Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

Don’t use disability as the bogeyman

The latest driving accident prevention campaign in Quebec leaves me somewhat disturbed, and probably not in the intended way. The message “don’t do this otherwise you could end up disabled” seems to me to be reinforcing the negative of disability. Clearly, preventing accidents is a desirable thing. But the way the message is coached promulgates an ableist view of disability. There must be other ways to deliver that message without focusing on the “horrors of having a disability”.

This post coincides with Blogging Against Disablism Day.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2013

Amélie Croteau was in a head-on collision 4 years ago as a result of sending a TXT to a friend. As a result of the accident, she is dealing with the effects of a traumatic brain injury and hemiplegia. She has written a book “Fatal texto, La fin d’un beau rêve” (Fatal TXT, the end of a beautiful dream) and is touring schools to speak to students about prevention. I salute her efforts.

Car accidents destroy lives. They must be avoided. Getting through to teenagers can be difficult. I do hope that Ms. Croteau’s efforts will get through to them.

Yet, I can’t help wishing that the message was more along the lines of “death is horrible” rather than “disability is horrible”.

The pain, the trauma, and the upheaval in one’s life after acquiring a disability can be huge. By all means, let’s talk about that. But let’s not use disability itself as the bogeyman. I’m tired of people with disabilities being used as an example to scare kids into good behaviour, even if the message is delivered by someone with a disability.