Learning to accept and love your disability is a journey every person with disability goes through. The journey they take differs from person to person. Even the concept of accepting one’s disability varies, based on who you ask. To me, disability acceptance means embracing your disability and seeing your disability not as the problem but how the rest of the world views disabilities as the problem. For example, when a building is inaccessible due to stairs, it needs to be understood that inaccessibility is the problem and not your ability to get in and out of the building.
Accepting Who I Am
I had not learned to accept my disability until the last two years. Becoming a Q Roll Model has played a big role in acceptance of my disability. Before entering the Q Roll Model contest in 2019, I never posted a picture on social media where my power wheelchair was visible. Through messages in the media and my lack of self-confidence, I saw my motorized wheelchair as a “bad thing” or something that was in the way. So, I did my best to conceal my chair.
The summer I applied to be a Q Roll Model, I also accepted a job at my local Center for Independent Living. That summer, I was immersed into the disability community. Suddenly, I was no longer one of few with a disability, but one of many. Growing up, before meeting my now fiancé, I was the only person I knew with a disability. I was constantly trying to fit in with the nondisabled world and prove that I was like everyone else. This caused me to hide my disability and feel ashamed of it.
The Power of Social Media
Having a partner who is also disabled did a lot for my confidence. I had somebody to connect with and who understood my day-to-day barriers. It wasn’t until I applied to be a Q Roll Model that I started to embrace who I am, disability and all. When submitting my application, I was surprised by how little content there was on social media for people who use power chairs. There was a ton of content for people who use manual wheelchairs but not those who use motorized wheelchairs. This bugged me. I felt like I needed to change it.
So, before even winning the contest, I started posting content on social media about my life as someone who uses a power wheelchair. Through my posts and finding other people’s posts, I connected with other disabled people and people who used power chairs. I realized I was not alone and not the only disabled person who felt what I felt. I had learned to accept myself and my disability.
I can never thank Quantum enough for letting my voice be heard and helping me to find my voice.
About Isabella Bullock: Isabella, or Izzie for short, is an employment specialist for the Center of Independent Living. She is an iced coffee enthusiast who enjoys getting lost in a good book. Click here to learn more about Isabella.
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