Disability is the impact of an unjust society on people whose body-minds don't comply with the demands of that society. That's right. Disability doesn't take place in our bodies. It takes place in society. Having a body that moves, perceives, experiences, thinks or feels differently from the majority isn't a disability. Society refusing to accommodate the real variety of humans turns a condition of being into a disability. When the early disability rights movement demanded ramps and rails, they proved that being in a wheelchair wasn't the obstacle to full participation in education, work or other activities. Inaccessible construction was.
We live in a society obsessed with youth and vigor, but all bodies age, and all bodies are vulnerable to illness and injury. In fact, the degradation of our environment is causing a dramatic increase in chronic illness. All minds are vulnerable to depression, anxiety, stress, trauma and breakdown. Universal design, designing all our spaces and all our activities to be fully inclusive of people with all kinds of bodies and minds, should be built into everything we do.
People with disabilities are disproportionately imprisoned, disproportionately targets of police violence and at far greater risk of injury and death at the hands of ICE than currently ablebodied/ableminded people. People with disabilities and chronic illnesses are far more likely to be poor, and to be isolated. Because our society puts so many barriers in the way, and refuses to provide basic resources, disabled and chronically ill people are far more likely to live in poverty, face profound isolation and have to work extremely hard, with limited capacity, to meet basic needs like housing, transportation, food preparation, help with ordinary household tasks and life supporting medical care. Access isn't just about keeping aisles for wheelchairs and providing zero gravity reclining seats and ASL interpretation, although all these things are necessary.
Full inclusion means understanding that all our bodies are under attack by capitalism, that all of us have been taught to override our most basic needs in the service of a system that is destroying our world, and that disabled and chronically ill people are the front line communities resisting those assaults. When we commit to disability justice as part of our spiritual and communal practices, we're not doing favors for the "unfortunate." We're following the leadership of the sick and disabled toward a greater liberation for us all, one that includes the sovereignty of our bodies and minds.
Rimonim is working on a ceremony of true inclusion.