04 October, 2011

3. Real Life Facts


This is just sort of a combination of part two. But I want to tell you some things you might not know (I guess).

In college, a person with a disability needs documentation in order to get accommodations. Even if the person comes in with severe CP and is like, "I need a notetaker," they still need a professional to have signed off on the fact that they can't take notes.

Usually the documentation has to be from the past three years, in case someone who has dyslexia might have stopped having dyslexia and lied about it just to be an asshole.

A lot of the time, if you are supposed to get an accommodation on tests, you have to get signatures allowing you to do this every time you have a test. Not everyone really has the brains to get signatures every time, but oh well. Not everyone has the brains to go and talk to a professor about their accommodations on the first day of class, which is also something you're supposed to do. But PWD don't get any support in doing that stuff.

If you don't mind me saying, this strikes me as a situation where people with disabilities are assumed to be con artists who are just trying to get sweet deals like enlarged handouts in class or their own special room to take a test in because they think they're too awesome to be in the same room as other people. It seems like PWD basically are supposed to get punished for being disabled and thinking that it might be their right to have school be as accessible to them as it is to everyone else.

I don't have experience with this, but my impression is that a lot of this stuff also happens when a person is on (or trying to get on) Medicaid or SSDI, or when a person is on disability leave from a job. They are assumed to be lying. Pretty much anything will prove it. I remember reading about a woman who was fired because she appeared smiling in a picture on Facebook, while she was on leave for depression. I think we have all seen people (including politicians) Tweet about how anyone who gets any kind of disability benefits, and also socializes on the Internet or in a bar, must not be really disabled. Doing anything fun or political or emotionally important to you means you are not disabled. If you can get yourself together to go to a bar for one hour, you clearly can get yourself together to work full-time. Even if you were in bed for 20 hours that day?

I saw a person Tweet during the TPGA dialogues about how self-identified disabled people writing TPGA posts and participating in comments could not possibly be struggling that much, which brings me around to what I was saying. These snap judgments of ability (and automatic attempt to discredit people who claim to be disabled) are exactly like real-life snap judgments that can have a significant effect on a disabled person's REAL LIFE.

So when you say, "You obviously can live on your own,"

and the person actually can't, and it is really scary because she can't live with her parents anymore, but she also knows that most people would assume she can live on her own and she won't be able to qualify for any kind of help, or even ask people she knows for help because they won't believe that she actually needs help,

her response to you is likely to be:

(Realistic Haunter.)


  1. I don't know if the very last bit was about you or me (or was more general) but YEAH I felt like that realistic haunter looks like it feels when my "ability to live independently" got brought into the conversation. I don't know if I can live independently yet! I'm trying to figure that out! This is why when I write about my relationship to independent living I write it like "(semi-)(in)(ter)dependent living". Because I don't know which one it's going to be yet! But clearly my ability to use all those parentheses means I'm lying. Or something.

  2. You know what? Someone I'm close to (a young teenager in my extended family) did use some accommodations to cheat on a test. He used them in about the same way that someone with more precise fine motor skills might write facts on their arm beforehand. He should not have cheated on the test. Sometimes teenagers screw up and cheat on tests, and need supervision and oversight to prevent it. THAT DOES NOT MEAN IT'S OKAY TO KEEP HIM FROM GETTING ACCOMMODATIONS NEXT TIME, AUGH, AUGH. There's a moral double standard there that I just do not get.

  3. Good post. This is what I am going through now as I realize that if a person seems at all "high functioning", he or she will have to do quite a bit to prove the need for assistance in order to get anything. I am living on my own now and finding it difficult, but I am determined to try my best to make it work.

    BTW, I like the Realistic Haunter.

  4. I wonder what people like me do when they start college, I can't imagine dealing alone with that, I can't see myself talking to strangers, dealing with bureaucracy, etc.

    The invalidation I see, like that from twitter, is really hurtful and dangerous in many levels, like getting accommodations and even emotional security, many people with disabilities have traumatic backgrounds and this can be triggering because is very common others to assume a person without a obvious disability to be faking it and be punished by it, I talking about personal experience here and I don't think I am the only with this problem.

  5. sapote, I forgot to mention how much I LOVE your comment.

  6. Wow, that actually *does* look like my face some times...