By: Kayla Hunt, Columnist
Here at Towson University we pride ourselves on our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive community. To start off the school year, I would like to share a new campaign that has arisen and opened many people’s eyes. I hope that this article enlightens those who are reading!
#AmbulatoryWheelchairUsersExist is a new campaign founded by Annie Segarra, an activist for LGBT and disability rights. Merriam-Webster defines ambulatory as being able to walk and not bedridden. Segarra created the campaign to debunk the portrayals of disability in the media and to change people’s perceptions of what it means to be disabled. Segarra shared her experience of being an ambulatory wheelchair user and describes how she receives judgment from people in public places when she is moving in and out of her wheelchair. Segarra and other ambulatory wheelchair users have shared that they are scared to stand up from their wheelchair in public because of the harassment they may face from others.
Segarra used her personal story to show that not all people who are equipped with wheelchairs are paralyzed or lack mobility and she explained that this is how wheelchair users are mainly depicted in films, television shows, etc. For instance, characters in films are usually shocked when the person in a wheelchair is able to stand up; it is portrayed as a revelation.
This campaign has created a spark and provided a platform for other ambulatory wheelchair users to share their stories.
Cassie Wilson, founder of the non-profit Half-Access, an organization striving to make live music more accessible and provide information about venues for disabled people, was one of many to speak on their experience and shared on Twitter. She said she loved the hashtag.
“Disabilities are fluid,” Wilson tweeted. “Sometimes I need the chair and other times I don’t. No one is faking anything just because they can stand/walk sometimes. Let’s work together to have more conversations and fewer assumptions.”
The campaign has shown that there are various medical conditions and illnesses that require people to use a wheelchair other than paralysis.
As the conversation continues, the message is becoming more clear that disability is not binary.