Try treating disabled customers as customers, world? Just a thought.

There’s a presumption – a very widespread, deeply rooted one – that disabled people should be grateful for anything we get. Whether that’s tech or a new tap, representation in books, or a new wheelchair.

When we’re used to seeing disabled people in the context of charity, is it surprising if that affects the way people deal with us? 

We’ve had a week of totally avoidable disasters, all coming at us from the outside. Everyone can have bad luck. But we do have a LOT of bad luck. Plumbers, gardeners, salespeople, tech shops (not even going to go there rn).

We pay the same as everyone else, but I don’t think I’m imagining that the starting point is often different. That it’s not going to matter if a workman smashes a few of our things, or what day they turn up.

Or what’s a year or two, when it comes to fixing the stairlift so I can get to my daughters’ bedroom?

I think more and more people now accept the idea of microaggressions – small, difficult interactions which are hard to pin down as racist or ableist. The million presumptions we make about people from first impressions, which then set the way we deal with them.

The impossibility of pinning them down is what makes them so slippery and confounding.

I just saw a post that said something like: stop applauding able-bodied people for being friends with disabled people. We’re not charity cases.

Which should not need saying, but yes.

But also – if you’re a business, could you please see your disabled customers as customers? Especially as we, erm, actually are. And we pay, just like everyone.

Don’t presume our houses matter less to us. Or our email systems are less important to back-up.

I was buying a very important dress once.  The lovely dressmaker said her friend had told her not to do it. Not to take the job, just based on the facts of my disability. She thought she’d get sucked into some situation… I don’t know. I just wanted to buy a dress.

Disability does not = charity. If you can’t provide us with the same level of service you would to anybody else, maybe just steer clear.

The end.

P.S One day we’ll clean this mirror. But the smears work like a real life filter so…

Lucy Catchpole

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