Disabled Community, Disabled Joy

In the foreground are three female presenting older people smiling at the camera. Two use power wheelchairs. They are on a paved garden path and in the background round is the San Francisco Bay with docked boats.

Hi everyone,

As I recently co-lead an accessible birding event on June 15th at Fort Mason, I want to take a moment to reflect on the importance of hosting events by and for the disabled community.

In an ideal world, all events would be accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to everyone, regardless of disability. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. From personal experience and hearing the stories of others, I’ve learned that the burden of ensuring accessibility usually falls on the individual with the disability. Accessibility is often seen as an afterthought or a privilege rather than a right. By creating events specifically for the disability community, we can alleviate the constant need for advocacy, explanations, and justifications regarding our access needs. Instead of having to fight for our right to be present, we can enter a space knowing we are genuinely welcomed. And that makes a huge difference.

Accessible events provide a unique opportunity for conversations about disability that often go unspoken or are one-sided in other settings. Being able to talk freely with others, share jokes, learn, and relate to one another is a truly grounding experience. I didn’t realize how isolating it was to keep so much of my experience to myself until I found a safe space and people to share it with. The joy that emerges when connecting with others in the disability community and feeling a sense of belonging is incredibly special. This joy helps us through the toughest days when it feels like the world or even our own bodies are against us. The disabled community fosters a unique kind of joy, one that exists precisely because of our shared experiences.

Sincerely, 

Mo

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