How to Sabotage Your Self-Advocacy in Several Difficult Steps

I’ve done something sickening. I’ve sinned against myself and against those for whom I advocate. I am ashamed.

Dramatic? Yes.

Sincere? Most definitely.

It just happened so fast…

Our apartment lease is coming up for renewal, and I’m in the process of negotiating a major kitchen upgrade with the property management. I’ve made many complaints regarding the shoddy workmanship of their maintenance crew and contractors over the years, so I insisted on inspecting a completed kitchen before committing to the project.

I met with the property manager (PM). This is what transpired:

*small talk & pleasantries*

PM: “I hope you don’t mind; the show unit is upstairs. Is that going to be ok?”.

Me: “Sure, I can handle stairs if you aren’t in a hurry. I might be a little slow.”.

She toted my walker up the stairs behind me.

Here’s what I should have happened:

Me: “No. It’s not ok. I’d like to see a downstairs unit, please.”

The legal implications of this scenario are important, but also obvious, so that’s not what I want to emphasize right now. This woman and I have discussed the state of my mobility and the accessibility of my apartment at length. My limitations are easy to see. She never should have put me in that situation. Most importantly, I should not have allowed it!

I assume my own competence. I say “yes I can”, and then figure out a way. I can create my own accommodations so smoothly, the average bystander may not even notice. That has been my default answer to “can you do ___?” MY. ENTIRE. LIFE.

There’s a lot to be said for the skills and fortitude developed by living while disabled, but it is not our responsibility to prove how we can bring ourselves up to “passing”. You do not have to assimilate to “normal” for someone else’s comfort or convenience, particularly if you are paying for their services.

Accessible housing is not a favor. It is they law, and we do not owe anyone an explanation.

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