One of the challenges of editing a ‘Disability Issue’ is that my mobility is not something I think about much. You might start to worry about my state-of-mind if I were to look in the mirror every morning, and say ‘Ah, yes, I still have two hands, feet and dark brown eyes.’ And just as I was born with them, I was ‘born like this’, which is not a very politically correct (or even accurate) way to describe my quadriplegic cerebral palsy. But while I don’t define myself by my ‘level of mobility’, the struggle disabled people face in their day-to-day lives both inspires and motivates me. Not least because it is one I face myself.
But I was also tired of hearing about ‘obstacles’ for disabled people. So in this magazine you’ll hear from Anoop Kumar, a disabled citizen journalist, who interviews a visually-impaired science whiz who is breaking the mould in India. Then, from Britain, Francesca Martinez recounts how she shook the idea she was ‘faulty’ and found fame as a comedian. On a more serious note, Maysoon Zayid returns to Palestine to assist a new generation of disabled children born under occupation, and Luke Dale-Harris uncovers human rights abuses against disabled people that continue to tarnish Romania’s reputation.
Since writing my personal account for this issue, I’ve started catching the bus again, and playing football; albeit one-a-side, and in the lounge of my flat. Both activities make me realize how much has changed since my childhood. And yet, just over a year since the Paralympics came to London with much fanfare, I think we have some way to go before the achievements of disabled people from all walks of life are encouraged and celebrated.
Elsewhere in this edition we interview John Pilger about his latest film Utopia on the resistance of indigenous Australians, and expose the domestic slavery that can await South Asian brides under the smokescreen of arranged marriage in Britain.
Jody McIntyre for the New Internationalist co-operative.