Erasing stereotypes, with your jobDec 29 02:01
If there’s one thing that makes me happy, it’s discovering a person with a disability with a career, or doing a job, you totally wouldn’t expect.
I feel like chastising myself for saying that a person with a disability working in a particular job is “unexpected," but I must confess it feeds my soul better than any bowl of my grandma’s chicken noodle soup.
When a person in a wheelchair is putting themselves out there, in a field where few wheelchair-users has traversed before, the most magical thing happens: Stereotypes turn into putty. They become these malleable silly ideas and is the opportunity of a lifetime where we can swoop in and obliterate out-dated views on disability in a snap, simply by showing up for work. It’s annoying that people’s expectations are so low and that by being in a particular job we can impress people, but it‘s a reality we can combat.
From chefs to medical doctors to magicians and cowboys, wheelchair-users have conquered all types of professions, and everytime a wheelchair-using doctor visits a patient for the first time, or a tattoo artist in a wheelchair comes in to give the waiting customer their tattoo, previously held ideas on what that person might have thought “disability” is, what people with disabilities are capable of, and even if they like us (the collective “us”), can be changed in that moment. Life is all about moments, really important ones, and this is our special moment to make our unique-to-us impact.
I’ve seen people in wheelchairs work a ton of cool jobs since I first became disabled. I remember being bowled over everytime I would hear about a gimp in a cool profession, like a lawyer in a wheelchair, a waitress in a wheelchair, or a sommelier (wine expert) in a wheelchair. Discovering these folks helped me realize we can get into more careers than you’d ever realize, and that the supposed “barriers” to jobs is fewer than you’d think.
While being a lumberjack, a furniture mover and countless of other jobs are forever be off-limits to us, breaking into professions we might even have the slightest chance at is one of the most powerful things we can ever do, so hey, get on it already.
What is the coolest profession you’ve seen someone in a wheelchair rock at?
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1. Alondra | Apr 26 12:43
i just want to say that your hilarious! I love your vocabulary and way of expressing yourself! I'm 100% in accordance with you! :)
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.