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If you call this ‘Normal’… – Jessica Sacks May 13, 2010

Posted by jewishdisabilityunite in If you call this 'Normal'....
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I am ‘healthy’. That is, I have not been diagnosed with any disability, I have full use of my limbs and senses, and I am able to live an active life in society. Sometimes a little too active for my liking. But otherwise, I am ‘healthy’, and ‘normal’.

I have always been a little involved, through my friend Cissie, with a different kind of normal. Together we used to go to summer-schools for children with disabilities; summer camps where the activities were accessible to people who used wheelchairs or who could not see or hear or think problems through in the same way I can. The camp counselors, though I did not know it at the time, included physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and special education teachers. For me it was just a summer camp like any other; moments I enjoyed, moments when I was bored, children I liked more, children I liked less.

Nowadays life is a little different. I work in an office which does not have a disabled-access toilet. This means that I will probably never have a colleague there who uses a wheelchair. Not because they could not do the job, but because they could not use the building. I live on the second floor of a building with no lift. I live in a hilly city full of steep slopes, irregular outdoor staircases and building-sites which spill across the pavement into the road. I have come to realize that I live in a world where not everybody is seen, not everybody is listened-to, not everybody can access the things, the culture, the human contact, that make my life good.

This hurts me, not because I pity these people – people can have good lives which are not the same as mine. It hurts me because of what it means about the society I live in.

Through my friendship with Cissie I have become involved with building this forum. I have begun to listen out more to the ways in which the society I live in defines who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. Through the Israel Disability Studies Network I am beginning to learn more about what this means and how we can make things change. For me this is one of the biggest adventures of my life: it means seeing my world in a completely new way. I am planning to keep a diary of this journey on the site, and welcome anyone who would like to join me on my way, to inform, share, comment, scream, laugh. Educate me, please…



1. Tamara - August 2, 2010

it’s strange that this population should be invisible when in other ways, it is so visible. the guide dog, the white stick, the wheelchair, the deformity, the instantly recognizable ‘otherness’ and yet….

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