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What Have Disabled People Learnt About The Ableds During The Paralympics?

September 10, 2012

Kaliya Franklin asked this question on Twitter this morning. The Guardian picked up her Tweet and collected some responses here. 

I responded:

This question reminded me a bit of a post I wrote a few years ago about a sighted person who went to a blind school for evening classes. There I wondered if real inclusion would happen when disabled people let able bodied people into their world.

Well, for the last ten days, with some help from Channel 4, that was exactly what happened. Disabled people let able bodied people into their world. We played sport on our terms to the best of our abilities, and they came to watch. We sincerely hope they got some pleasure out of it- and we sincerely hope they realised that in spite of differences, in spite of challenges that they may not yet face, we have the same wishes, hopes and dreams.

If the parade I’ve just seen was anything to go by, they did realise that. I could never have dreamed that Sarah Storey and Victoria Pendleton would hug each other in the middle of Central London. I could never have dreamed that Ellie Simmonds and Rebecca Adlington would be standing next to each other live on national TV.

At this parade, the Paralympic flag and the Olympic flag flew together alongside the Union Jack as hundreds of talented athletes danced together to the Pet Shop Boys- and no one cared less that half of those athletes were dancing on wheels or prosthetic legs.

In order to be fair, the Paralympics needed to be different. I think most people now realise that. However, by merging the athletes at the parade, the organisers sent out one clear message. We may be different, but we are most certainly equal.

I have learnt that ‘the ableds’ have realised this about me- and I sincerely hope they always remember it. If they do, these Paralympics will lead us closer to real inclusion in all areas of society.

Thank you Paralympians. Goodbye Paralympics. You were fantastic.

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 5, 2012 7:44 am

    Hallo, there is something I’ve been wondering as I wander around your Blog and site: How does a person use the term ‘the ableds’ correctly? Where did this word evolve from? I’m the President of a Centre for Independent Living in the US and language is something that fascinates me greatly.


    Post Script ~ It has been rather enjoyable to read your Blog and information. For years now I have been wanting to learn more about what it is like in other countries for those with Disabilities and I preferred to learn first hand from somebody who has direct experience but had no knowledge of where to begin my search. Just sort of stumbled across your site by accident and it is something I’m going to Bookmark and return to after a few hours sleep. (It’s quite late where I’m at.) I hope to be able to read more and ask more questions about things I don’t understand. Thank you for your time.

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