Personal Stories

PLEASED TO MEET YOU

Hi, I am tickled and honored to be a participant in this blog. My name is Traci and I am a 55 yr old woman with the congenital birth defect of Spina Bifida. Now that alone doesn’t really say much about me. It is a mere fact of my life, just like the fact that I have blue eyes and brown hair.

What I hope to come into discussion with you here is what disability has meant in all of our lives. When it has been the deciding factor, good and bad and when it hasn’t mattered at all. In my life I know that those have been the golden times.
I believe that I have lived in an awesome time for a person with disabilities. I started school when children with disabilities did not have to be taught, and especially were not required to receive an education in a public school – and yet I went. I have lived in a time when science was booming with the ability to work at making my body more able to deal in the physical world. And I grew up in an age where Vietnam Veterans were returning and looking for self-sufficiency with their new disabilities, and so those opportunities benefitted all with disability at the time.

I am old enough to remember how wonderful it was when those of us with physical problems then were called cripples and FINALLY got to be called handicapped. Even though I know I am outdated, that word is still very special to me, as I remember when it was a very long time coming. But also I welcome the word disabilities as it means we are still progressing.

My body motates on forearm crutches and has continued to do so for the last 50 years. I have seen the times change where I struggled to enter buildings and now go with ease. I have lived the times when getting a driver’s license was unthinkable to having one and showing others those “cool controls”.

Like many of you I have met with resistance in the outside world in recreation, education and in the working world. Who among us has not? There was the high school that would not let me attend because I could not carry my own lunch tray. The teacher who refused to give me the grade I deserved because I needed to learn that a person with disabilities would not make it in the world. The college entrance test where I was asked to please leave the room because most students had not seen a person with disabilities and it could distract them and lower their scores. The professor that refused me in his class because I would never be employed and the study room for people with disabilities because it was “too hard” for able bodied people to have us around. And many times, the ‘not hire’ because they needed people to “look pretty” in their business.

As all of these are true i also know many scenarios in my life that are true and affirming. I will never forget that first job where I was hired without a blink of the eye. Also the first job where there was a physical aspect to it and not a big deal was made for revisions for me. Another golden moment was when I participated in dance for the disabled and then found a friend /teacher who makes sure that it continues in my present life. And the most golden moment when I was asked to be a wife, by a man who loves me, knows my disability, but does not seem to see it.

This barely scratches the surface of what I hope we will talk about. I hope that sharing my experiences prompts you to share yours. Now, if you would like, please introduce yourself too. Thank you.

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