It’s time we reconsidered the term ‘disability’ – both within our department and at the college.
The word disability can carry damaging implications with the power to offend and even strip people of their worth. However, the truth is, many people with disabilities are actually grateful for and enjoy having them. In their eyes, they see their unique disability as an advantage – even a superpower.
It’s this shift in perspective that has the power to turn disabilities into strengths; struggles into superpowers. And it’s a new viewpoint we’d like to challenge our community to embrace.
My name is Kali, and I’m an accessibility specialist here at the college. Supporting students who face learning barriers is dear to my heart because I understand their struggles all too well.
I have cerebral palsy and growing up, I was labelled as disabled – and not in the superpower sense. However, in my eyes, I didn’t see my disability as a bad thing. Maybe I couldn’t ride a bike as easily or run as fast as other kids, but I had talents they didn’t. My ability to do up a button with a single hand, for instance! I saw – and still see – my cerebral palsy as a strength.
As I’ve learned to manage my condition, I’ve been able to see the world in two ways:
- Through the viewpoint of someone who struggles, because I also do
- Through the lens of an ‘average person’ because my cerebral palsy isn’t obvious to outsiders
This dual vision has given me an advantage of perspective, and this is precisely what drives me in challenging the way we see disabilities.
When we choose to see disabilities through a new lens, we open ourselves to experience a shift in perception. It’s this change that helps to foster a more supportive environment – one where we can harness our strengths and share our joys.
Did you know that everyone (students, staff, faculty, etc.) has superpowers of their own? It’s true! Everyone carries unique talents and gifts – ones that should be celebrated. Perhaps you have a great capacity for empathy, or maybe, like me, you’ve developed impressive new abilities through the barriers you’ve faced.
Take a moment to reflect on your own superpowers, considering questions like:
What talents do you recognize within yourself?
What words would you use to describe these superpowers?
How can staff and faculty support the growth and development of your superpowers?
How have you been supporting the superpowers of other members of our community?
Finally, I encourage you to facilitate conversation about superpowers with others in our community. Because it’s through open dialogue, that we can pave the way for powerful new perspectives to emerge.
Thank you, fellow superheroes!