I’ve always thought that being invisible would be a cool superpower to have. Not just because I would be able to have a cheeky spy on people but also because I would be able to play tricks on them. However, being in a wheelchair has taught me that invisibility is not all it’s cracked up to be. A common complaint disabled people have is that people do not speak directly to them; most will address the carer as if they are pushing a baby in a pram. I thought that attitudes were changing following the Paralympics and those in wheelchairs were becoming less invisible. That’s not strictly true.
Yes, the invisibility cloak around disabled members of society has been partially removed and I feel that a decreasing amount of people look straight through me as if I am not there. That is the case but instead of people not seeing me, the new thing is to just dismiss me as if to say that I have no worth as a human being. For example, when I start talking to people (normally some sort of complaint), I can just see them switching off and not paying any attention to what I have to say. My opinion clearly doesn’t matter and I don’t exist in their world.
Not being acknowledged has to be one of the worst feelings in the world. You regrettably end up questioning whether you exist and if anyone would notice if you weren’t here. Obviously, the people who matter don’t look right through you but it does nothing for your self-esteem when members of the public don’t even notice you and/or pretend you’re not there. It’s even worse when someone you quite fancy ignores you. Talk about awkward. I’m not less of a person just because I’m in a wheelchair. You’ve only got to tilt your head slightly to see me!