On International Day of People with Disability – pondering what it means to be me

Logo for International Day of People with Disability - blue background, white figure.It’s International Day of People with Disability – oddly worded but important day for reframing the perception of disabled people across the world. And tonight we have the cinema premiere of Total Permission in both Bradford and Bristol, the documentary part of PUSH ME, the project I’ve been working on all year, which aims to do a similar thing.

Unsurprisingly then, I’ve been mulling on disability and what it means to me.

There’s been a big debate on the Facebook page for Disability Arts Online following a review by Denis Joe . It’s been quite wide-ranging, covering art criticism, definitions, therapy and language – yes, we are back on what counts as ‘disabled’ and what doesn’t.

With my hearing aid on, in good surroundings and when I’m in a position of control (i.e. leading something), my access needs are minimal. Take any one of those things away though, and I struggle without support.

But how do I define ‘struggle’? What is enough? What is… basically, do I count? And do I care?

Clearly I do, or I wouldn’t be writing this. But, to be honest, I’m caring less and less, these days.

To borrow a phrase, I am what I am.

I can hardly go round with cotton wool in my ears to appear ‘more deaf’ just to make a point.

I’m not caring less about the politics. In these times of cuts and crisis, there is more to fight for now than ever before. The figure going around is that 74 disabled people are dying each week despite being found fit for work.

But politics aside, I’m just not defining myself simply by one aspect of myself any more. I’m more than my ears, however they work or don’t.

Dance Digital have just announced their Associate Artists for 2013/14 – and I’m one, working with Luke Pell!

I’m not dropping my disability label and picking up an artist’s one, but I am broadening out my focus and finding out more about what it is to be me.

Logo is from International Day of People with Disability, and remember if you have enjoyed this and want to read more, you can subscribe to Jo Verrent’s blog by email.




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