Friday, 7 September 2012

Newsflash: the 'lympics are still on (for another two days at least).

Dear Roflympics,

A thing called the Paralympics exists. They're awesome; you'd like them. And just because the US isn't winning doesn't mean that you can ignore disabled people's successes.

I could understand concerns of offending disabled people, but seriously? We can be funny too. Surely disabled people should be given an opportunity to be in on the joke, and can non-disabled people really not manage to laugh with us?

Yes, there are complete idiots out there that might want to laugh at people different to them in any way, but surely that's a risk with any site where randomers can upload content? And considering the majority of the content on the site seems to have been uploaded by Cheezburger staff, it shouldn't be difficult for them to check and approve content fairly regularly.

An apparently 'disabled' person


On that note, during my PhD funding applications this year, I came across a rather confusing form. I was asked if I am disabled, and given the options 'yes' or 'no'. After ticking no, I was then asked to tick which options applied to me, with no indication as to whether or not I should skip this section if I had chosen no. So as 'long-term illness' applied to me. Twice over. I ticked this so that it would be on record should I have problems later on that affect my PhD (I regularly missed chunks of lectures during my undergrad, but have been lucky to just lose about 3 weeks worth of lectures this year.)

I then got a phone call from the person processing my form asking if I was disabled with a long-term illness, or not disabled without any long-term illnesses. I'm not the only person who doesn't feel that I can be summed up with tick-box options on an equal ops form. A student for whom I have been a notetaker this year is partially-sighted and has some difficulty with one of his arms and legs. However as he is capable of living his life as he wishes, he doesn't feel that he should be classified as disabled.

I'm not sure how I feel about people referring to Paralympians as 'inspirational'. I agree that they are, I would never be able to achieve the feats that they have, however I find them inspirational in the same way that I find the Olympians inspirational. Both groups show that hard work and determination can overcome a lot and allow you to achieve things that many people will never achieve.

Disabled people are disabled by society. Should Paralympic sports be more available to the average person, both for disabled people to partake in and for disabled and non-disabled people to support, should they be funded to the same levels as Olympic sports, and should they be better advertised, then what would be the difference between the two? The only additional obstacles the majority of Paralympians need to overcome are ones dictacted by society.


And finally, I have PhD funding! I'll be starting at the end of the month. There'll be a couple of months' overlap with the end of my Masters research, but sleep is for wimps!

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