Throughout our lives all of us have probably had times when we wanted to be more or less anonymous and more or less memorable.
Things have been said that individuals with disabilities are often ignored or treated as “invisible”. My experience has been quite the opposite. Like it or not, our disabilities can make us less invisible and more memorable. What we do with that has to be our choice.
It feels to me that since passage of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) people with disabilities no longer have to hide-out in their homes and can more freely move around independently in the real world.
I live in a community where sidewalks, stores and bus lines abound. Very few things stop me from leaving home and traveling around my world whenever I want or need to do so. And that I do!
People see me all around town living seemingly fearlessly in my wheelchair. And they remember me. And they say that are inspired. If I were doing the same things without a disability I would blend in as just another shopper or just another neighbor.
As people have recounted how they been watching me and how my normal life has inspired them I have begun to understand the importance of my non-anonymity. My disability has turned me from being “the common man” to being a memorable image of thriving with disability.
Each day we all have the opportunity to memorably represent our community. Remembering the non-anonymity our disabilities can produce may help us to maintain a higher level of courtesy, optimism and friendliness. People are seeing us!