Grant Yourself Some Kindness

Image ID: to the left is text that reads “ When we grant ourselves acts kindness, it makes us kinder. We deserve the kindness we give ourselves. Give yourself the love and kindness that you bestow upon others. Small acts of self love can change your entire life. Be kind to yourself today..” Next to the quote is a photo of Dominique. She stares at the camera, her kindness bracelet is hanging, she is resting her face on her hands. She is wearing an Italian amulet necklace, has curly hair and is wearing a tank top. Underneath her is text that reads “The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.”

I am proudly wearing my Kindness bracelet that was made by my friend Grace who runs “Kind SBY” in the photo above. These bracelets help you count your acts of kindness every day. Not only are they cute, but they also have a purpose. As someone who has a moral code founded on kindness— and creating a kinder, more conscious, and beautiful world: I love this. Grace is my kindred spirit, by the way, and you should support her nonprofit — if you can! She does wonderful things and really makes this world a better place. Especially in our city of Salisbury!


The thing is, we don’t talk a lot about what acts of kindness mean sometimes beyond doing it for others. What does kindness mean when it comes to how we treat ourselves?


I felt really guilty for taking a past Sunday for myself. I am a mover personality. I want to be in movement. July 26th was the 30th Anniversary of the ADA. I didn’t make a celebratory post. I didn’t do anything but restore myself. I recharged, unplugged from social media, and rested. I felt better. Except, I was supposed to be doing something to talk about the ADA! Right? I had that duty as an advocate. Except I also had a duty, as a person, to rest and slow down.


As I looked down on my wrist, I realized that I was granting myself an act of kindness. I was letting myself rest. I was giving myself the ability to rejuvenate. We often forget that we can be kind to ourselves. Most importantly, we owe it to our bodies to be kind to them. We owe it to ourselves to grant love to ourselves when we need it. Resting is not selfish. It is an act of kindness.

It is okay to acknowledge that is tiresome to not always want to celebrate. 30 years of the ADA is groundbreaking and wonderful. However, so many people (myself included) carry bone-deep exhaustion because the ADA is not perfect. I often wait outdoor stores due to lack of access, say “no” to events, and face discrimination still — despite 30 years of the ADA. This is why it is not wrong if you choose to rest sometimes — even if you weren’t tired in a traditional sense.


Everyone deserves rest whether they’re disabled or able-bodied people. We all need to unplug, restore, and grant ourselves some kindness. By granting ourselves a chance to step back, we can acknowledge that we have feelings instead of constantly moving. Disabled people, even with private formats, have to learn to advocate for themselves. We have to advocate in medical scenarios, in public formats, and in private environments. That’s a lot for shoulders to carry.

When we grant ourselves acts kindness, it makes us kinder. We deserve the kindness we give ourselves. Give yourself the love and kindness that you bestow upon others. Small acts of self love can change your entire life. Be kind to yourself today.


I think there are a few things about growing up traditional Southern Italian that is super typical. You eat a lot. You cook even more. More importantly, when August comes around, it signifies “Ferragosto” will be here soon. Italians close shop, holiday, and relax during the month of August. During the Assumption of Mary, it’s common for it to be a long weekend for Italians. The 1st of August signifies a time of relaxation and rest.


For us here, it has always meant that it’s time to carry on traditions, and family time. It means that summer is ending. We need to cherish the fruits of summer. After months into a pandemic, I hope we can all celebrate as my family does. I challenge you to implement some acts of kindness. Not just into others, but into your own. Take this month and unwind. Restore. Relax. Unwind. Cherish the fruits that you have grown.


If you want a bracelet, you can buy it here online if you’re not local.

Farewell, Disability Pride Month

Disability Pride Month! Thank you for a month of education, representation, & much needed conversations. May we all have become more connected and educated if you were able-bodied! Until next year! The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair (text logo)
Image ID: Farewell Disability Pride Month! Thank you for a month of education, representation, & much needed conversations. May we all have become more connected and educated if you were able-bodied! Until next year! The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair (text logo)


It seems so strange to think that an entire month has gone by already.

Yesterday was the last day for Disability Pride Month. August is now here. Time sure goes by fast during quarantine, right?


A month of learning, leaning in and listening. A month of crying out, crying along with my fellow disabled friends that ableism sucks, and crying about the sucky parts about being disabled.
A month of saying that I love being disabled. A month of grazing my fingers against across my chest where my atrophic scars stick out. A month of staring back with a crooked smile at the way my atrophy has changed my appearance. If I don’t smile back at that appearance: am I being a “roll model” for younger girls? I battled with these thoughts this month. These are the thoughts that I wrestle as an advocate and as a disabled woman. This is realness between you and I. These mix together somewhere in between the world of Disability Pride and realness.


I must admit that despite it all, it was a month of truly really wonderful things.

Disability Pride is beautiful for many reasons. We’re not always granted access to many things. But when it comes to our identities? We’re not always granted access to owning our autonomy; owning our identity. Disability Pride allows us to take ownership; to say that this is “us.”

We are proud. We’re happy. We love ourselves. We love one another. We hope you love us, too, and the complexity this brings. Disability Pride does not mean that disability is perfect. It means ownership of identity, of autonomy; of acknowledgment. A sense of belonging.


I hope the conversation that I held the month of July made you learn.


I hope you learned from me. I hope that I taught you about new things — especially if you were able-bodied. I hope you learned about inclusion. I hope you learned about accessibility. I hope you learned about inaccessibility. I hope you learned that it’s okay if you’re still learning. We are ALL learning still.


Most of all, I hope you learned that this conversation will not end because July is over.


The ADA celebrated 30 years, but the work is not done.


The same way that Disability Pride Month may only be 31 days, these conversations will continue year-round. Keep listening. Talking about ableism doesn’t stop when July ends at midnight. I hope you know that accessibility and inaccessibility are key points in my life. The lives of many disabled people. Keep having these conversations. Keep learning.

If you’re able-bodied, please keep learning for the sake of your loved ones who are disabled. Keep learning for the sake of other disabled people, even strangers. Keep learning and engaging because our lives depend on things changing. August is here and advocacy will continue on.

I must end things by saying that I thank everyone who has helped me celebrate Disability Pride 2020! Especially everyone who has celebrated #SBYDisabilityPride2020! Thanks, especially, Salisbury for proclaiming July to be Disability Pride Month! What a way to celebrate July 2020!


Love,
Dom

Thank you, ADA #ADA30

ADA 30, Americans with Disabilities Act - Celebrate the ADA! July 26, 2020. At the top is a circle made of stars and numbers that say 1990-2020
Image Credit: Credit: ADA National Network (adata.org) 1-800-949-4232 [Image ID: ADA 30, Americans with Disabilities Act – Celebrate the ADA! July 26, 2020. At the top is a circle made of stars and numbers that say 1990-2020.]

Every day for “Disability Pride Month” – I am committed to writing pieces that reflect the diversity, truths, and reality of our disabled community If you want to share your piece with me or be interviewed this month, I would love to share your voice! Please email me at: submissions@thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

Today marks 30 years of the ADA. I am what’s known as the ADA Generation. That means that I lived after the Americans With Disabilities Act passed in 1990. I didn’t experience what some of my community has. As a woman with a disability, I’ve personally experienced the rights it has granted me. I witness them— getting coffee with friends, going to educational institutions, or even to the pharmacy. The power of the ADA is evident.

There is so much that I can thank the ADA for today. While I feel so thankful, I’m feeling such a sense of emotions for disabled people who didn’t have the ADA to protect them. These are the people who fought endlessly for us at the Capitol Crawl via Adapt. I shared about this on my Facebook page. If you’re not familiar, I’m going to link to that story here.

Mostly, I have been lost in thoughts about how the pre-ADA generation fought for access and legal rights when there wasn’t that protection. I know many people who were not apart of the ADA Generation. In particular, I have a relative who was not apart of this generation. Her experience growing up was not like mine. Her disability was onset from birth — and we have discussed ways which we have experienced ableism. I was always curious in how the experience of being disabled was like without legal protection of access..

Without the ADA, she had to fight for access to education. She didn’t have the ramps or ability to demand access. It wasn’t illegal. There was no way to say that she had a legal right to get access to it. I was not apart of this experience. 

I think of them today. I honor them. I mourn with them. I think of that last sentence because I wonder how many disabled people suffered due to the ADA not existing. How would my experience look in the 80s?

I think too of how many disabled people have experienced protection and fostered an ability to defend themselves because of it. I know mine my disability experience is better because I am apart of the ADA Generation. 

I have felt blessed in many ways for this because I think often of how life would have looked for me (as a wheelchair user especially) if I didn’t have the ADA. I think of my loved one’s experience, of the stories shared by advocates, and even the experiences shared in ‘Crip Camp’ (a powerful documentary on Netflix) of the pre-ADA generation. 

While the ADA still has ways to go (and I would never deny this), I cannot deny the impacts it has made on the lives of the disability community. It’s a good thing to remember when we are fighting for disability justice. At times like these, I want to remember the people in our community who have championed for us and still are.

So much of my experience is dependent upon wheelchair access, needing physical access, and knowing that I have legal rights to accessibility in these physical spaces. 

At this time, I think of businesses that must meet the ADA requirements for access. If it weren’t for the ADA, I would not be able to frequent many places I love. I wouldn’t be able to get access to them. It’s a reminder that everyday, I am thankful for the headway that we have made and the impacts made. 

There is a lot to celebrate today, but mostly I celebrate knowing that the ADA has paved ways for the disabled community— and continues to do so. I await to see the ADA make progress in the future. 

Today I celebrate the #ADA30 by celebrating the impacts we have made together, will make, and uplifting the celebration today. On my Instagram, I will be sharing videos of some disability advocacy this weekend related to the ADA in regards to how it makes me personally feel. I think it’s important for us to celebrate onwards into the weekend. I’ll also be sharing a selfie of me with a personal nod today in regards to #ADA30. I encourage you to do the same!

For some important reading, I urge you to check out Alice Wong’s blog for her focus on ADA pieces on diversity (because diversity is important) as well as watch the video linked below:

Happy 30th Anniversary ADA! What a celebratory weekend that we’re going to have during #DisabilityPrideMonth — and especially during #SBYDisabilityPrideMonth at that!

Love, Dom

National Disability Voter Registration Week

Every day for “Disability Pride Month” – I am committed to writing pieces that reflect the diversity, truths, and reality of our disabled community If you want to share your piece with me or be interviewed this month, I would love to share your voice! Please email me at: submissions@thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

White square graphic with black text saying “In 2020, over 35 million people with disabilities are eligible to vote!” The “35 million” is emphasized in larger, red text. Below the text, and separated from the text by a black horizontal line, are the white, blue, and red logos for the National Disability Voter Registration Week on the left and REV UP on the right.
Image ID: White square graphic with black text saying “In 2020, over 35 million people with disabilities are eligible to vote!” The “35 million” is emphasized in larger, red text. Below the text, and separated from the text by a black horizontal line, are the white, blue, and red logos for the National Disability Voter Registration Week on the left and REV UP on the right.

Today is July 17th which is the last day of National Disability Voter Registration Week! It kicked off on July 13th. It marked a great week of learning, listening and becoming more educated on issues that affect the community. I’m also apart of this community too. These issues matter because they’re happening to me.

If you’ve been following my social media, you’ve noticed that I’ve been posting about it. We often see a lot of commercials, social media posts, and even radio advertisements about voting. Except if you noticed (which I have for so many years): we rarely talk about how it impacts people like me. It’s a major problem because policies have a major impact on disabled people, minorities, women, and I can go on. I hope by now, you have the picture.


The disability community needs a place at the table, too.


I have been sharing on social media about this because voting is not a privilege, but a right. Everyone should be able to vote regardless if they require assistance to vote, require mail-in ballots due to a need to self-isolate during a pandemic, or physical adaptations at the poll booth. So many amazing advocates have been raising wonderful ways that you can include disabled people in your voting turn out. I’m going to be making this a longer post because this is a topic that I’m passionate about.


When we talk about voting, it’s a topic of accessibility. Oftentimes, the issue of voting is simply inaccessible. How many people simply say, “I would vote, but it’s not worth the hassle?” That’s a problem. Voting should always be accessible. There is THIRTY FIVE MILLION disabled eligible to vote this election. They deserve to cast their ballots, their voices and be acknowledged this year.


Let’s get some citations going to talk about what disabled people go when we cast a ballot.

Outside the voting area, GAO was able to examine features at all 178 polling places and found that 60 percent (107) had one or more potential impediments. The most common were steep ramps located outside buildings, lack of signs indicating accessible paths, and poor parking or path surfaces (see figure).

Voters with Disabilities: Observations on Polling Place Accessibility and Related Federal Guidance [Reissued on December 4, 2017]

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOJ study the implementation of federal accessibility requirements in the context of early in-person voting and, as necessary, make changes to existing guidance. DOJ generally agreed with GAO’s recommendation.

Voters with Disabilities: Observations on Polling Place Accessibility and Related Federal Guidance [Reissued on December 4, 2017]

That’s right, folks. You didn’t misread it.


SIXTY PERCENT OF THE POLLING PLACES WERE INACCESSIBLE!

That’s a real number. Just imagine if every polling place had to be accounted for, not just a small number as we see here. As you see, they concluded that early in-person voting would a hugely beneficial thing, as well as changes to the existing guidance. Of course, this was before the pandemic. Right now, it’s pivotal that we protect the lives of disabled people when we vote so disabled people are safe too! That’s why we need to talk about mail-in voting.


During the 2020 election, I think it’s pivotal to stress that we must be diligent to remind people that mail-in ballots help protect our disabled community. I see A LOT (and I can’t stress that enough) of hatred towards mail-in voting. My dear cousin went to vote and had to stand in line for 3 hours. Younger me (who was ambulatory) would absolutely be knocked out by that because I had weakness in my legs.

This is way before I had a wheelchair. She described the scene that she witnessed while voting– and it made me wonder, “What’s going on for disabled people whose states are fighting against mail-in voting? What are OUR options?” If you’re not sure where your state falls or you want to know where other states fall, just click this great resource here that was geared towards educating disabled voters on their rights.


When people argue that mail-in voting is wrong, I think it’s important to remind them that being against it is inherently ableist because disabled people suffer inaccessibility at the booths, the booths are not safe for ALL, and that everyone deserves to vote.


If you have someone who is incessant that there couldn’t be a logical reason for why disabled people couldn’t vote at a booth if they did it previously, here are a few great pandemic centric reasons for why it’s imperative to be supportive:

  • immune suppressed and or comprised make up a lot of our disability community
  • lacking reliable transportation due to many relying on public transport that can no longer make it due to risks of exposure
  • having issues with PCA s (personal care assistants); i.e. many rely on nursing and or PCAs but the pandemic has affected that as well due to exposure risks and agency issues
  • laack of general accessibility while casting ballots that was already witnessed in the 2016 election and having assistance from poll workers could be an exposure risk

I could continue on why we need to be stress the importance of this, but these are some great reasons that are related to COVID-19. I know we live in a time where many deny COVID-19 or say that COVID-19 is only a threat to the “high-risk” – but that’s 35 million who fall into that category. Should 35 million votes be displaced due to that?

If you want to vote in person, it’s important to know that the ADA (who is turning 30 on the 26th – may I add) does protect you! While not every polling place is accessible (as we learned above): the polling place is supposed to meet ADA guidelines. The ADA does protect you and your right to vote. If you vote and the polling place is not accessible, you have the right to speak up. You have the right to cast that ballot!

Here’s a great video below from 2016 on what fellow disabled people were experiencing when going to vote. I think this is such an important video to watch because this is a real experience of what’s happening. Disabled people are struggling to vote. Think on that for a few minutes. Should it be a struggle? At all?

As we end this, I remind you to register to vote! Use your voice! These policies impact your health, your life, and so much more. Disabled people are extremely impacted by politics — even if we sometimes are left out of the conversation or ballot booth. We will not tolerate this in 2020. We should not tolerate this any longer.

If you’re not sure if you’re registered to vote, you can do it right with the AAPD! Just click this link! You can also click here for more information on how to register with your state and not via the AAPD if you’re more comfortable that way.

Even though this campaign is “over” by today, this election year is not. Disabled voters are still campaigning to raise voting in the community! I plan on becoming more proactive in my local community to get fellow disabled people more aware of their vote, how to use mail-in voting and or how to vote accessibly at the booths, and the protection they’re warranted at the actual booths via the ADA. Are you with me? Come along!

Are you a local Eastern Shore resident or a Maryland resident? Do you have thoughts about voting? Let’s talk. I want to discuss voting as a disabled voter with you! Email me at dom@thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

Joshua Wilson and What You Don’t Get About Autonomy

This is Joshua Wilson. He's sitting in his orange wheelchair and wearing a black shirt, gray sweatpants, and black Adidas sandals with socks. He's posed.
Image ID: this is Joshua Wilson. He’s sitting in his orange wheelchair and wearing a black shirt, gray sweatpants, and black Adidas sandals with socks. He’s posed.

Every day for “Disability Pride Month” – I am committed to writing pieces that reflect the diversity, truths, and reality of our disabled community If you want to share your piece with me or be interviewed this month, I would love to share your voice! Please email me at: submissions@thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

All over, I have seen Joshua Wilson thrown out of his wheelchair as he protested for BLM. I will not post that here. I will link to there article that was written up by the LA Times that you can read here. It’s not to spare my own feelings, but it’s because he has suffered enough. I will say that every time that I see it shared, it does upset me. I wish it upset some people as it upset some in my beautiful circle.

I watched that video and saw so much violence. I see a man who is crawling. You don’t get it if you are able-bodied, but fellow wheelchair users do. Anyone who relies on a mobility device does. As a full-time wheelchair user who is paralyzed and relies on her wheelchair to get her through life, I felt fear as I watched this. If you take my wheelchair, you take my freedom. You take my legs.

Do you understand that taking a wheelchair away from a disabled person is an act of a violence? To take away my mobility device is an act of violence in itself? To take away away my freedom is an act of violence against me? We have talked so much about the way that Joshua was violent, but we hadn’t talked about the violence that was committed to him once he was left to crawl. Let that stink in.

I see a Black disabled man and think of multiple conversations that are happening my community right now. A community I that love. I think of a lot of things happening. This is Disability Pride Month, but this made me sit in silence. We’ve been having conversations about this a lot– and I thought progress was happening. Then I see this and I realize that we have to fight. We have to fight harder. In case you were wondering: here is a good resource on this exact issue.

I see people saying that he was a felon, that he had incited violence, and so many things. I will not listen. I will not hear this. That means that you feel that multiple men (who are able-bodied) against a disabled man is equal. It’s not. I remember being a young girl and having a neighbor on my street who was quite testy. Let’s frame it that way for the sake of the argument. She often would yell out names and even had thrown rocks at a friend of mine. She was in her 80s though. Do you know why I never threw a rock back? I was a 11 year old, able-bodied, and could hurt her.

Are you following this logically?

If you watched this video and felt that there were no ways to deescalate this situation than it means that you do not see it as violence to take away a disabled person’s mobility device. It means you do not get me. It means that if someone took my chair that you couldn’t get my experience. You don’t get me at the core. It means you’re not listening to what people are saying about their experiences. It means you’re not listening when my friend is fighting to get listened to when they won’t treat her correctly for her sickle-cell or that the access to Black disability services are not as fair.

This is all I have left to say.

Salisbury Disability Pride Flag

It’s a photo of the Disability Pride Flag with the Salisbury logo. The logo is to the right. The text reads Salisbury and there's lines. Description of the flag: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a "lightning bolt" band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors.
Image ID: it’s a photo of the Disability Pride Flag with the Salisbury logo. The logo is to the right. The text reads Salisbury and there’s lines. Description of the flag: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a “lightning bolt” band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors.

Not only can you download your flag, but I’m going to show you a way that you can craft your own flag! From paper!

Download your flag below or by clicking this Google Drive link!

If you’ve been following me, you know that I am pretty darn excited that July was officially proclaimed as Disability Pride Month! In honor of that, I wanted to share that I made my own Disability Pride Flag. This flag was designed by Ann Magill. Thanks to Ann’s kind heart, I was able to add Salisbury’s logo because she has waived all copyright; aka meaning that it’s open to download, add other logos (like SBY’s), print and even make it into crafts or real flags! Way cool! Here’s the original post of Ann’s.

These are what the colors of the Disability Pride flag represent:

The Black Field: Mourning for all those who’ve suffered abuse and violence, because of ableism, also the connection to the pirates’ Jolly Roger flag, and general rebellion.

The five colors: the wide variety of types of disability: Mental illness, Intellectual disability, Sensory disability, Physical Disability, and Invisible or Undiagnosed Disability (I’d originally chosen which color goes with which disability, but everyone’s color associations are different, so you do you).

The zigzag shape: how disabled people have to always navigate barriers in the normate world & and the creative problem solving we do every day.

The zigzags are parallel to represent Disability Solidarity, even though our individual needs and experiences are different.

Ann Magill, Artist / Creator of the Disability Pride Flag

Create Your Own #SBYDisabilityPrideMonthFlag

As most of my friends know, I pride myself on being a crafty lady too! Due to it being focused on Disability, I want to stress this as an adaptable craft. A lot of times, I know that we often don’t see accessibility or adaptability included. However, this crafty lady (in particular) is a big advocate of both accessibility as well as crafting.

Due to my passion for both, I have included multiple ways to do this craft! Let’s go into the multiple ways to do it, so it’s accessible to all! By accessibility, I’m thinking of multiple levels of accessibility which includes level of physical access, as well as financial/physical aspects too, because oftentimes craft supplies can require shopping trips and be pricey! That’s just not always a possibility for disabled people, especially during a pandemic.

Let’s Make a Flag (More Accessible Options)

  • DOWNLOAD IT! Don’t feel pressure to craft it. Digital art is still art! We often push the narrative that digital art can’t be art, but it totally can! Draw on it, make a clip of yourself with it in the background, or even share it on social media! You can do so much. Don’t discount yourself if this is the only way that you can participate in crafting. I made the flag by digital crafting! It’s totally rad to digital craft. Don’t feel like you’re not a crafter if you can’t physically crafter. Seriously.
  • PRINT IT! Bam! You have a FLAG! Easy peasy. It makes it really easy! You can tape it to a mobility device, put it in your lap, or simply hold it! It won’t be exhausting either! Give some out to friends and family too! There are so many things you can do – include print it big! When you print it out, you can tape it anywhere! Flags everywhere! The options are endless! You can do different sizes! There’s also often ways to pick “sizes” in your printer, too, so you can do “mini flags”! (Stickers anyone?) Love, love, love it! Crafting does not always need to require scissors!

Make a Flag (with a Disabled Crafter)

Step 1: Print The Flag!

Make sure you have downloaded the flag (linked above)!

Step 2: Cut Borders (if necessary – omit if dexterity if is an issue, so I print it to size) 0-p;;

Step 3: Attach ‘Flag Pole’

For this part, I used a lone and random bamboo knitting needle that I had gotten when I was first learning to adapt knitting. (That’s a crafty post for another day!)

This needle has been floating around. As your favorite crafty girl and advocate of sustainability (which is a disability issue too), I ask you with love to use something that is also floating around! Use a paint mixing stick, a few popsicle sticks, a ruler, etc! Anything! If you have an issue holding them, I have ideas below. Whatever you use, just use something that you have floating around. Too many crafters buy when our own homes are full of goodies! This is an example of inaccessibility because a lot disabled people are limited budgets, or can’t leave because of the pandemics, so let’s making crafting accessible!

I used double sided tape that I had laying around from mask making because my regular tape is missing. A great question to ask is: where does the tape go when you need it MOST? You could use glue as well. Tape is a great option is because it’s low dexterity and doesn’t require much work!

This is a photo the SBY Disability Pride flag; the flag is described above. It's a close up photo, the wooden knitting needle is shown. It's resting on a table
Image ID: this is a photo the SBY Disability Pride flag; the flag is described above. It’s a close up photo, the wooden knitting needle is shown. It’s resting on a table.

Step 5: How to Hold Your Flag? Ideas for Wheelchair Users or Those With Mobility Aids:

a hair clip is holding the flag pole in place on the electric wheelchair
Image ID: a hair clip is holding the flag pole in place on the electric wheelchair

Make your own DIY flag pole holder by using a hair clip as seen above! I have a lot of hair (thanks Papino) — and always use my wheelchair handles as a good place to store a clip because hair in your eyes isn’t good for general purposes. It also makes for a great DIY flag pole holder! Just slip your stick in there! It works best for thinner sticks like knitting needles for example. This would work well on walkers too!

Other Ways to Show Off Your Flag

You can hole punch your flag – if you are feeling more excited about it! Let it hang on your house! Let it hang in your window (with tape)! Hang it on your doors! Whatever you do, just make sure that people know that it’s #SBYDisabilityPrideMonth!

If you make this craft, please make sure to tag me!

To finish off this post, please make sure to my Instagram for a photo of me with my flag! I can’t wait to share my flag with you all! What an amazing thing to be apart!

Love,

Dom

it’s a photo of the Disability Pride Flag with the Salisbury logo. The logo is to the right. The text reads Salisbury and there's lines. Description of the flag: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a "lightning bolt" band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors.
Image ID: it’s a photo of the Disability Pride Flag with the Salisbury logo. The logo is to the right. The text reads Salisbury and there’s lines. Description of the flag: A black flag crossed diagonally from top left to bottom right by a “lightning bolt” band divided into parallel stripes of five colors: light blue, yellow, white, red, and green. There are narrow bands of black between the colors.

July is Disability Pride Month in Salisbury MD!

At the top of the letter is a seal that reads, “The Seal of the City of Salisbury, Maryland 1732.” The imagery in the middle is a tree, a sailboat, and landscape general city imageries depicting the city.

Proclamation

WHEREAS, 
July is Disability Pride Month — it coincides with the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and offers an opportunity to celebrate and strengthen the pride, power, and unity of people with disabilities, their families and allies;  and

WHEREAS,
“Disability Pride” has been defined as accepting and honoring each person’s uniqueness, seeing it as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity; and

WHERAS,
this annual observance is used to promote visibility and mainstream awareness of the positive pride felt by people with disabilities— pride that comes from celebrating their heritage, disability culture, and the unique experiences they as people with differing abilities lend and contribute to society; and

WHEREAS,

President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990 to ensure the civil rights of people with disabilities by establishing a clear and comprehensive  national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and since  signed into law it has expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing barriers, changing perceptions, and increasing full participation into community; and 

WHEREAS, 
people with disabilities are the largest and most diverse minority within the population, representing all abilities, ages, reaches, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds, and

WHERAS 
the City of Salisbury works with its own Disability Advisory Committee which was established on October 1, 1990  to ensure that those with disabilities have an equitable opportunity to participate in, benefit from, and relish the opportunities their Community provides as the Committee assists and understanding the attributes of the attributes of people with disabilities; and

WHERAS, 
the City of Salisbury celebrates and and recognizes the 30th Anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the progress that has been made since 1990 by reaffirming the principles of equality and inclusion, and recommitting City effort efforts to reach full ADA compliance; 

NOW THEREFORE, I, Julia Glanz, City Administrator of the City of Salisbury, do hereby proclaim July 2020 as

“DISABILITY PRIDE MONTH”

in our City and invite everyone to learn more about the significance of this celebration of those who are differently-abled, and to advocate for a more inclusive and accessible world for all.

IN WITNESS THEREOF, I hereunto set my hand and the seal of the City of Salisbury this 13th day of July, 2020

Image of the seal of Salisbury at the bottom with a signature of the City Administrator Julia's at the bottom
Image Description: this is the Proclamation of Salisbury’s Disability Pride Day. Due to the length, I have added this caption to the Alt text box. Please click that for the caption. I have a full transcription available if needed.

July is officially DISABILITY PRIDE MONTH in Salisbury, MD. Can I say that with anymore excitement? I don’t think so.

Major cities like Philadelphia, New York City, and Chicago all recognize this with Parades and great celebrations! Now the city (where I call home) has decided to honor Disability Pride Month. This is a very personal and celebratory thing for me.

This is a big thing for so many disabled people who often hear the world disability and consider it to be a bad thing.It’s no great secret if you’re reading this that I use a wheelchair.


If you told the younger me that I would see Disability Pride, I would stare at you blankly. I could never grasp the concept of celebrating my wheelchair. I wasn’t proud of being disabled. I was beyond embarrassed by the pink wheelchair that has become centralized to my advocacy; almost to my outward identity.


I remember thinking that I could never imagine being proud of my disability because so much of the world had always told me that it was something to carry with shame. It’s difficult to put into words the progression that I have made. It started slowly, just like a seedling. One day this month, I’ll share more on that journey. Today, I want to focus on this specifically.


I want to put into words what it means to see the city I live in to make strides to make the progression to acknowledging me, my fellow disabled people, and all disabled people. It means something to have a seat and a table. My voice counts so does yours.

When people Google “Disability Pride Month” – they’ll now see Salisbury, MD. Seriously. Isn’t that incredible? We often joke about the Eastern Shore of Maryland and its archaism, but I’m proud of so many things that happen in Salisbury.


This is one of them.


It matters when your city is doing things to improve the lives of disabled people. They’re working towards the betterment of disabled people locally.

Disability is visible, invisible, and can represent people who are on the neurodiversity spectrum (Autism for example). Disability is a broad spectrum to display an entire representation of people. It’s diverse, just like the people themselves. No matter what, we must fight on for all disabled people.

Especially for those who can’t always advocate for themselves or are not in positions to do so. This is one step though that is huge. It means so much. I can’t say enough, but to simply say:


THANK YOU, Salisbury Maryland!


On behalf of this Salisbury girl,


Now go celebrate Disability Pride Month!


Even if we can’t celebrate here with festivals: go take a photo of your smiling face, snap a photo of you with the Disability Pride flag (yes – it exists), or go celebrate in your favorite adaptable way! No matter what you do, I promise you that this girl right here will be celebrating Disability Pride Month all month long! I’ll still be talking about Salisbury. I also want to talk about ways that you can “celebrate” with me.

With love,

Dom

My Disabled Body is Worthy of LOVE

It’s a crystal ball that’s purple with stars. On the crystal ball that has text that reads, “I SEE a disabled body worthy of LOVE.” The background is pink with stars on the back. At the bottom of the photo is www.thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com
Image Description: it’s a crystal ball that’s purple with stars. On the crystal ball that has text that reads, “I SEE a disabled body worthy of LOVE.” The background is pink with stars on the back. At the bottom of the photo is http://www.thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

Every day for “Disability Pride Month” – I am committed to writing pieces that reflect the diversity, truths, and reality of our disabled community If you want to share your piece with me or be interviewed this month, I would love to share your voice! Please email me at: submissions@thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

Life would be pretty cool if we all had crystal balls with the answers. Today, I actually consulted a “joke” crystal ball. I felt relieved when it gave me an answer. That prompted a thought about myself and the present. I was lost in thought. I looked at myself and how I don’t hate my reflection. There’s a lot of contentment in who I am. There’s a sense of liking my skin, the way I am.

I wish I had a crystal ball when I spent multiple years of my life telling myself that I was not worthy of love. I wish I had a crystal ball when I thought a man being flirting was a cruel joke, almost like a pity. I wish I had a crystal when I was being cruel to myself as a way to deal with ableist beauty standards. 

Basically, I wish I would’ve asked the crystal ball if I was worthy of desiring someone romantically and being desired. Was it normal to desire someone – even if I felt that I couldn’t have that because I wasn’t “normal”? Even if people said I wasn’t allowed to have those connections or my body wasn’t worthy of those desires?

Mostly, I regret that I could not see that my disabled body was worthy of love in any form – including self love. It was immensely hard to see value in my disabled body. I regret that it took me until me until my 20s to see something beautiful about the weird curves of my spine, the way that my leg calves are big from NMD, and the way that my arms are atrophying. I wish I saw a lot of things differently.

I was very adverse to the idea that I was lovable. I seriously could not fathom that this body was desirable. It was difficult for me to see myself as desirable. Finally, I realized that so much of what I felt about myself came from things rooted in ableism and self-hatred. Things rooted in toxicity. 

It was hard to get here. I did though. You are desirable, too, even if you feel unattractive. You are worthy of desires in any sense and especially romantic. You can want people. You can want dreams. You can even find yourself desirable.

Disabled women can want love. They deserve love. They are lovable.

I see a body worthy of LOVE. Now go and look into the ball and ask yourself if you’re beautiful. Wait. Don’t bother. I already know the answer is YES.

I’m Why You Should Care About Disability Pride 2020

TGITPW logo, woman in pink wheelchair, posed with legs crossed and reads “The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.” 

Underneath it on image to the left has a large quotient mark then reads, “Disability Pride Month happens once a year. Except my disability is something I live with year round. I challenge you to learn this July. Accessibility starts with YOU and listening! Dominique, The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.” To the right is a teal background. Dominique is posed in her pink power chair, her face is covered by her iPhone, she’s wearing a hippy floral headband, a pink sweatshirt and cotton shorts
Image Description: TGITPW logo, woman in pink wheelchair, posed with legs crossed and reads “The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.” Text on image to the left has a large quotient mark then reads, “Disability Pride Month happens once a year. Except my disability is something I live with year round. I challenge you to learn this July. Accessibility starts with YOU and listening! Dominique, The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair.” To the right is a teal background. Dominique is posed in her pink power chair, her face is covered by her iPhone, she’s wearing a hippy floral headband, a pink sweatshirt and cotton shorts.

Every day for “Disability Pride Month” – I am committed to writing pieces that reflect the diversity, truths, and reality of our disabled community If you want to share your piece with me or be interviewed this month, I would love to share your voice! Please email me at: submissions@thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com

Last night my dear friend and I were discussing apathy. I won’t go on about it (because I totally can), but it got me thinking. Sometimes people are apathetic because they’re not always exposed to why they should care. Apathy isn’t always a lack of caring per-say, but sometimes it’s just because people aren’t aware of how issues are affecting the world. When we talk about educating and the act of educating others, we don’t always realize that sometimes people don’t realize that their lack of exposure to issues is hurtful to people. It’s hurting a collective of people.

Sometimes apathy is because people don’t realize that we (the marginalized) need them to do something, too. I’m disabled and I advocate, but it’s a really beautiful feeling when able-bodied people do their fair share of remembering me. 

I have people tell me, “I forget you’re in a chair!” I have people tell me, “You don’t strike me as a person with a disability.” I’m not sure what I should be striking people with. Do you think that people except me to strike them with bathroom grab bars potentially? 

Sometimes apathy is forgetting that things matter because it affects people we love— or even that it affects people at all. That’s how it affects you, even if you’re not the person with a disability. Yes –even if you’re able-bodied and don’t experience life with any form of a disability. People with disabilities are people you love. They’re the people in your communities. They are people with feelings, thoughts, and are living lives. You know disabled people. They’re making art, they’re making love, and they’re making waves.

Maybe I am that one person with a disability you know. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking of another name. Maybe you are the mother, father, or sibling of someone with one. Maybe you’re not disabled and you’re reading this in hopes of trying to understand where your place is in becoming more aware and conscious. Either way, I assure you that disability affects all of us and we have to raise our voices

I’m not the only person with a disability in the United States — even if I am sometimes the only person that many meet with a disability or who uses a mobility aid like a wheelchair. Believe it or not, there’s 61 million people in the United States with a disability. [x

SIXTY ONE MILLION PEOPLE RESIDE IN THE UNITED STATE WITH DISABILITIES! That’s people like me who use wheelchairs, those who have visual disabilities, hearing disabilities, and so many more. Something we also rarely talk about is that anyone at any age can become disabled. I was able-bodied and suddenly I was not. Disabled people represent multiple, races, sexualities and religions. 

I am Dominique. I am a disabled woman. I live on the Eastern Shore. I have a neuromuscular disease. I ask you to learn from me, but also learn from my community. When we pause, we realize that things can get better. We can do better. I know we can.

Disability Pride Month happens once a year. Except my disability is something I live with year round. I challenge you to learn this July with me. Accessibility starts with YOU and listening!

Think about that man you saw in the handicapped parking spot. He could have an invisible disability. Think about lack access in your local city. Think about how out of the few disabled characters on television, they’re only played by a mere percent of 2% disabled actors/actresses vs. able-bodied actors/actresses portraying disabilities. [x] This is reality for me and others.

Let’s lean in and listen this month.

Let’s remember all the faces of Disability Pride for this July 2020. 

Inaccessibility

Inaccessibility is not just physical barriers. It’s emotional barriers too of living your life as a person with a disability. 

The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair
“Inaccessibility” (The background is a dark teal)

The text looks like the sea
Image Description: Inaccessibility is not just physical barriers. It’s emotional barriers too of living your life as a person with a disability.
The Girl in the Pink Wheelchair“Inaccessibility” (The background is a dark teal, the text looks like the sea)

Every day for “Disability Pride Month” – I am committed to writing pieces that reflect the diversity, truths, and reality of our disabled community If you want to share your piece with me or be interviewed this month, I would love to share your voice! Please email me at: submissions@thegirlinthepinkwheelchair.com


When you’re disabled, you think about inaccessibility. A lot. If your disability requires a mobility aid (like mine does – for example), your life is dependent on accessibility to live. Disabled people are continually reminded that this world was not designed for their needs. 

If you want a reminder that it was not designed for us, take a look around at in your  current city’s ramps and critically look at their designs. Majority of them are not accessible for most wheelchair users. Or walk around and see how many buildings actually have ramps or disabled access. You’d be surprised how many times that a building doesn’t need to have a ramp.

Except ramps are just what most people equate to accessibility. Not all disabilities require ramps. Not all disabilities require mobility aids either.

Day to-day, I live with reminders that this world is lacking basic access for disabled people to live their lives. Some days, I get angry because it’s not just affecting me. It’s having an effect on all disabled people. Occasionally, I get sad, too, even if I don’t like acknowledging that. It’s a mixture of so many emotions. Truthfully, I try to separate myself from the flux of emotional stressors. Except in all honesty, I can’t separate myself on how inaccessibility affects my emotional and physical life. 

We don’t talk enough about inaccessibility. We don’t talk about the serious impacts and effects that inaccessibility has on us. 

 I’m not talking about the kind of inaccessibility that the able-bodied community may imagine such as needing more handicapped parking or lack of ramps. While those issues do matter (and should matter): these are just basic facets of our existence. I’m talking about the fact that ramps are usually too high to push up, wheelchair vans cost too much, and PCA (personal care assistant) services are often cut or not covered by insurance.

I have missed major moments of the lives of people who I love because I haven’t been able to get into the venue. It means that I have to tell friends that I can’t go to that fun place with them. That place (which does seem cool) is not accessible. I can tell you, however, that it does not feel very cool to say that or miss out on the event. This is what I what I think of when I think of inaccessibility. 

Inaccessibility is not just physical barriers. It’s emotional barriers too of living your life as a person with a disability.

It’s hoping that you don’t pee yourself because the restaurant’s handicapped stall is not functioning, so you start counting. It’s crying because you missed another family event. It’s emotionally draining. It’s battling humiliation or rage. It even means that someone has even told me outright, “I think you are, like, really nice, but I don’t think that we should hangout since you use a chair. I don’t know how to handle all of it, you know?” – directly quoting my journal entry 

The positive was that this person immediately let me know that she was less than stellar. I was hurt because she found the idea of cancelling plans to be easier than working out plans that were accessible. The idea of staying away from a disabled person was easier than finding ways to make my life as a disabled person easier.

Able-bodied people have no idea what disabled people go through to live their lives in a functional way. Disabled people have so much responsibility on their weary shoulders. Imagine if able-bodied people had to work out everything including bathroom trips — even for a day? This is the life of a person with a disability. We have no choice, but to make sure our lives are accessible. Everything is always planned out. I don’t go to a doctor’s office without calling to ask if they’re wheelchair accessible.  

I plan everything out. I don’t have a choice.  

There is a running joke about disabled people’s bathroom breaks too. We’re calculated people. In a world like this, we have to find a way to make it accessible to us because the world won’t. We make access where this isn’t any— and that’s really not okay. 

I do not have the choice of cancelling on my disability — like that girl did to our hangout plans last-minute — even if it would be nice on the days where it rains. I can’t cancel on it when I’m unsure if I can handle another medical procedure. I cannot take a break from my illness, my wheelchair or any of the things about being disabled that are not fun. I can’t take a break, even when I’m tired. And really tired of the fear of COVID-19. I can’t take a break because this is my life. 

I sometimes wonder what it would feel to wake up, get dressed, and not plan out my day with precision. Wouldn’t it be lovely to go somewhere without messaging or calling the venue first to see if they’re wheelchair accessible? Or to not be nervous that the person didn’t relay poor information? That has happened more than once. I know that it will happen again.

This world, as I said, is always thinking with able-bodied people in mind. The homes, store-fronts, and even public buildings serve us forget that disabled people have lives too. We want to live freely too. 

When you live in a world that is not accessible to you: it becomes normals in aspects to experience exclusion. To me, that’s what inaccessibility feels like. It’s being excluded and continually reminders that this world is excluding you from experiencing it.

That is the life of inaccessibility.