I recently read an article written by Emily Ladau on the Mobility Resource blog, about disability simulations- I highly recommend everyone take a moment to read the original here.*
The author was of the opinion that walking was not an experience that could be recreated, shared or simulated in a way that would ever be fully understood by the participants or even have the ability to come close to representing what life would be like with a pair of fully functioning legs.
The article drew attention to the fact that “for so many, disability is an identity and a culture” (Ladau, n.p.), that there are some things that simply cannot be simulated, replicated or compared. You have to live it to understand it. And there is no substitute for the real thing.
These central ideas 1) simulations and their effectiveness and 2) the concept of identity and culture sent my brain into over drive 🙂
Your experiences may be similar, you can empathize with and relate to different people and things but it will never truly be “the same” because individuals, our lifestyles, backgrounds, hopes and dreams are all unique and there are so many variables that nothing can ever really be 100% identical to the original.
Really, I think that everyone and everything has a unique culture and identity. But nobody and nothing should come to be defined by just a single element. Look at all the information, all of the possibilities.
I am a woman, a person with a disability, a musician, a friend, an employee… Each of these elements represents an identity, a viewpoint, a way of life. I am many different things, to many different people, in many different situations. And to want to use just one of these terms as a descriptor for an entire person and set of experiences is ridiculous.