Part of a Whole

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

What’s Wrong About Going On Stage In A Wheelchair?

People use negative language about disabilities without realising they do it. I was watching a musician’s interview on YouTube and he made a comment about wheelchairs as a jest. Only it’s not really funny.

I have great respect for the musical talents of Paco de Lucia, Al DiMeola and John McLaughlin. I love their work together, especially on the album “Friday night in San Francisco“. I came across an interview they did for NBC about how they got together to play music. The interview is great as it mixes the musicians talking and their music.

Here is the interview from YouTube. Please note there are no caption – sorry about that.

They were saying it was about time to do it, that they’d been wanting to do it for about 15 years already. At about 0:38 in the video, John McLaughlin says:

If we wait another 15 years, they’ll have to bring us on stage in wheelchairs.

My immediate thought was “so what?”. What is wrong about going on stage in a wheelchair?

Perhaps he meant that in another 15 years they’ll be too old to play? I don’t know. He made a jest, I didn’t find it particularly funny. I don’t believe he intended anything bad by it. But it’s a pretty good example of how people routinely use language that is negative towards people with disabilities.

That won’t stop me from listening to their music though!