speaking up

I have a disability called spina bifida. When I was born, my spine had not properly closed; so that a surgery was done shortly after birth to close it. With all of today’s technology, my parents would most likely have known before I was born. There are even surgeons who attempt to deal with the problem in utero.

However, I was born in 1967, long before all the advances were probably even thought of. I wore leg braces for a short time, but my feet now have deformities that cannot be corrected. I walk with a limp.

I tell you all of this not to gain sympathy, but because my disability has shaped who I am as a person and a helper. I have learned to advocate for myself when I need some kind of accommodation, and I’ve learned to advocate for the people I support (in whatever capacity). I speak up for people whose voices often are not heard loudly and clearly. And if everything goes well, those people will learn something about speaking up for themselves.

It’s part of my calling, and it’s scary at times. Sometimes keeping my mouth shut is the easiest thing to do. There’s not nearly as much conflict when you don’t rock the boat. But there’s not as much progress and inclusion either.

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