The freedom and ability to do things the way I want them done.
What independence means to me, is to be able to do as much as you are able on your own in all facets of life. I.e. daily living and housing. Additionally, I also believe an aspect of independence is telling yourself that you CAN do something even if it may be challenging and don’t tell yourself you Can’t. (Replace can’t with can).
Independence is an interesting subject for me, because I have been longing for it a lot lately. I long to live in my own space, to be in charge of my own schedule – though I will always have to consider the needs of Personal Assistants. I long to have a more adult relationship with my parents, which I think will only be achieved when I am no longer living in their house, and they therefore influence my decisions less. For me, all of these desires have a common theme: choice. I want to make my own choices consistently, because I know that I will feel like more of an adult when I do so. I feel that a lot of people with disabilities probably share my feelings in this regard, and hopefully some of those people can become a part of Able Community so that they can make their own choices in an affordable, safe, and fun environment. Not only that, but they will grow as human beings as they also have to consider the choices of others. In short, I believe that choice and independence are completely linked, so with this the context of Able Community, that is what I am thinking about this Independence Day.
Joy (4 years old) – being able to take the compost out by herself.
Gracie (3 years old) – being left alone with a jar of jelly and a knife.
Daniel (9 months old) – being able to eat whatever crumbs he can find on the floor.
Paul – not depending on others more than is necessary.
Dreaming of Independence (a work in progress):
As we near the 24th anniversary of the ADA, people with disabilities (myself included) still face inequalities and barriers to Independence. We still invisibly live isolated in the margins of American society.
Independence is an ideal I’ve yet to achieve; my dream deferred
before I even knew how to dream. For me,
Independence is being able to live my life
the way I want, as easily as my friends without disabilities can.
Independence is not constantly having to fight with a landlord for accommodations.
Independence is not being the last person in my law school class to be looking for work.
Independence is not being unable to find personal care assistants for my day to day activities.
Independence is not having decisions dictated by others or factors like access.
Independence is what we’re working towards
as a community of people with and without disabilities;
towards our dream–a dream deeply rooted in the American dream, in King’s dream
of freedom and justice ringing from every mountaintop.
Dare to dream our dream of Independence with us.
Watch Michele and Carmen discuss what independence means to them:
Special message from Able Community:
As we celebrate America’s independence today, it’s good to reflect on the independence that we are working towards. All of our hard work will be well worth it when we are able to improve the quality of life for both people with disabilities and personal assistants! July 1, 2012 was the anniversary of our first meeting together. Can you believe that we have been meeting for 2 years? While it is easy to be overwhelmed by the mountain of work in front of us, we should be proud of what we have accomplished so far! Happy 4th of July Able Community; let’s stay strong!