In this story: COVID-19 /

"But I wonder, for once, why can’t society accept and support the needs of people like me?"

“The pandemic has pushed us into the “New Normal”.

But I feel it’s not necessarily going to be a better normal for me, or many other disabled people. At least not without a fight.

We’ve learned over the past 18 months to sanitise surfaces, respect people’s personal space and think very carefully about whether we should hoard toilet paper.

Some things have changed for the better – I’m hoping the prospect of flexible working will continue to shine brightly. Not because I have SMA Type 2 and offices are woefully ill equipped for my needs, but because working from home means I can get a banana cake mix ready in ten minutes and it can rise in the oven as I type emails over the next hour.

But the pandemic has been a shared experience and affected everyone on the planet. And the adaptations and accommodations made as a result are because the majority of the population needs something.

But what about when the minority needs something? What about all the things I’ve needed pre-pandemic and continue to need?

Funding for a new stairclimbing wheelchair so I can finally access all terrain. Access to specialist medical procedures and innovative expensive medicine for my health condition. Or just being able to go outside without having to dehydrate myself or hold it in (yes, in the 21st century we still don’t have real accessible toilets in most places).

These are the things that cause an unequal playing field. These are the things others can’t fully relate to. There’s no shared empathy.

COVID-19 has overtaken everything, every time, attention and fund. And it is important that everyone who’s been affected by the pandemic receives the outstanding support they need and deserve.

But I wonder for once, why can’t society accept and support the needs of people like me? If the pandemic has proved anything it’s that diversity is what gets us through the storm – we need diverse leaders who look at problems from all directions. So exclude me, and people like me, at your own cost.

When will we learn?”

Watch Kiana’s hip hop film, Tax on Me (this link will take you away from our website).

Photography by Kevin J Thomson.

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