The Golden Rule of disability etiquette is not about being politically correct, just about good old fashioned respect and courtesy. The 2010 Disability SA Conference illustrated again how we need to be wary of making decisions on behalf of people with disabilities. Graham Mylett from DANSA gave this personal recollection of what disability etiquette is truly about.
“During a meeting another person assumed that I wanted my information in a particular way. There were two options, but she made the decision for me about which option I could have. My friends watched with interest, and I suspect amusement, to see how I would respond. I smiled sweetly and asked politely for both options. That way I could decide for myself. Sadly I don’t think she got the point. Giving me the choice at the outset would have been the way to go.”
Dignity for disability is about providing people with disabilities with respectful channels to own their “dignity through choice”. The tide against the past Orwellian approach is now significantly strong and we need to stay on this path of respect and deliver the disability etiquette into the Community so that people can own their decisions for their own lives and make their own choices.
The strongest advocates for the disability community are people with disabilities themselves. In March of this year the Hon Kelly Vincent MLC was asked by Patrick Emmett from 7.30 Report whether she felt equipped to handle the pressures of political life due to her youth. Kelly quipped instantly and I quote “I am more than equipped. I have already had 21 years as an Advocate in my wheelchair and so, I have more experience than most. In this state at the moment, you become an advocate for your rights from the moment you are born if you're born with a disability, because you will have to fight for equipment, you will have to fight for transport, for accommodation. And so, really, there's not a lot of choice.”