2018 has been such a brilliant year for the disabled community in Ireland and across the globe. I finally feel like we (the disabled community) are making real, palpable change and are definitely on the verge of something truly great. Looking forward to whatever the future holds and not being concerned with the past is important to living a happy life, but I was to take a moment to reflect back on the things achieved by our community in 2018:
Most notably, in March 2018, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) was ratified in Ireland, 11 years after it had been signed by the Irish constitution. Following intense protest and activism by the disabled community, years of hard work finally came to fruition.
Hopefully, 2019 will bring with it the ratification of the Optional Protocol, the accompanying document to the CRDP that allows for a inquiry/complaints procedure to take place following an issue raised about the UNCRPD in Ireland, and allows investigation into abuses of the rights of those with disabilities.
2018 saw some great movements popping up on social media. Twitter has allowed messages to be spread far and wide with the use of hashtags. Some of my favourite hashtag movements this year have been #ChangingPlaces and #StopHiddingISL. Have a look at them on Twitter and join in on the conversation.
Social media also played a huge role in the repealing of the eighth amendment of the Irish Constitution, which made abortion illegal. It was estimated that, each day, there were 12 Irish women who were forced to go abroad to seek an abortion. The disabled community played a huge role in helping to educate the people of Ireland about the relationship between abortion and disability. This saw the emergence of many female disability advocates and the organisation Disabled Women Ireland (DWI) was set up. DWI has a great social media presence – join their Facebook forum here if you’re interested.
Standing and fighting together for disability advocacy makes for a stronger chance to make change. That being said, there are individuals from the disabled community who are making unique change in the world. Lee Ridley is a comedian with cerebral palsy who uses a voice synthesizer to tell his jokes and he was also the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2018. Sinéad Burke, an Irish advocate and writer who was born with acondroplasia, was placed on Vogue‘s list of 25 women shaping the world in 2018. Burke has done too many things to sum up in a single sentence, so I’ll leave the research up to you – give Sinéad a follow on Twitter to keep up with her crazy life. Seeing disabled people succeed in areas like comedy and fashion would have been unthinkable even a decade ago.
As with any year, there have been more and more people coming to terms with their disability and learning that ‘disability’ is not a dirty word. For me, this is a constant process, Having been diagnosed with a progressive neuromuscular condition when I was 13, I found myself in the middle of an identity crisis. My whole world felt like it was being hacked away by the word disability. Over time I picked up the pieces and constructed a new world – one in which disability was not a bad world, and one in which I was proud of being who I am.
I’m very happy to have showcased stories similar to my own on this blog. Check out two of my more recent posts, by Courtney McGrath and Jane Madden, respectively. They both reached out to me and decided that it was their times to share their stories. I can’t wait for more people to share their stories in 2019.
It would be impossible to mention every little thing achieved by us this year – because so many things happened! Comment below or tweet me with anything you’d like to share.
I have very high hopes for 2019 and what it will bring for the disabled community in Ireland and worldwide. Happy new year, everybody!