Remember two weeks ago when everyone was posting their Facebook avatars?? When I saw friend after friend sharing their adorable, hip selves in cartoon form, I was naturally curious to see what all the fun and fuss was about. So, I clicked a few buttons, chose a few facial and fashion features and…voila!
Sure, I had the polo shirt and Big Hair Energy, but it was incredibly disappointing to find out that there wasn’t a way to show my disability, though. My wheelchair is a huge part of who I am. In fact, there weren’t any assistive devices, which is pretty ableist and not at all inclusive.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, in which I make the case for the importance of inclusion and how disability representation matters, even in Facebook avatar form…
Disabled people deserve to be represented just like everyone else. All too often, disability inclusion is an after-thought – things become more inclusive only after disabled people speak up and demand change. It would be great to live in a world where this inclusion is part of the plan from the very beginning.
Facebook Avatars may seem like a small thing, but making them more inclusive will show people with disabilities in a better, more accurate way. We’ve got places to go and things to do and our walkers, canes, and wheelchairs help us get there. Those devices deserve just as much prominence as our hair color or eye color.
I’d wanted to create the best version of myself with my avatar, but as it turns out, that was impossible. Without my wheelchair or any representation of my disability, that redheaded, polo shirt-wearing woman just wasn’t me at all.
AND…thanks to the talents of someone on Twitter, my wheelchair is now included in my Facebook avatar!!! Isn’t it perfect?? I took one look at it and immediately exclaimed, “YESSSSSS, this is me!!!”
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo