Stella Young was an Australian comedian, journalist and activist for the disabled community. Stella had Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as Brittle Bone Disease. She began using a wheelchair at the age of 14.
Stella Young went on to receive a BA in journalism and public relations. She worked as the editor for Ramp Up, Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s on-line magazine.
Stella Young died as result of an aneurysm on December 6, 2014 at the young age of 32.
Inaccessibility is my greatest barrier, not necessarily my disability. I rarely can go to the homes of others because the majority of homes are inaccessible. I can not attend most family functions unless they are held outside. The lack of accessible bathrooms limits me even further.
It is difficult for me to explore new towns or places, as I never know if my wheelchair will be able to navigate sidewalks and shops. Parks and trails have many barriers that prevent me from fully enjoying the sites. Recently, I was turned away from a new laser tag facility because despite having ramps, I was told I was a “liability”.
My cerebral palsy does not necessarily prevent me from seeing and doing everything I want to do. The barrier is inaccessibility. In essence, Stella Young is correct. My cerebral palsy is not my disability. My wheelchair is not my disability. My disability is the inaccessibility of my environment.
I have great hope that with time, these barriers will disappear. People with disabilities are becoming more visible and awareness of our needs is spreading. Businesses are becoming more proactive in accommodating disabled consumers. There are also advances in adaptive equipment and assistive devices. There are wheelchairs that can climb stairs and travel over rough terrain. I believe we are moving in the right direction. I hope in the near future inaccessibility will no longer be a disability to anyone.
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’
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