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Do you feel lucky, 2019? It’s time for disabled voices to be heard

It’s a new year and a fresh start at making this world inclusive and your voice heard. With that in mind, we have a New Year’s message from Disability Horizons journalist, Fleur Perry. She’s got a New Year’s resolution to keep and wants you to join in using #sayithowitis, to make sure your frustrations and wins are heard and celebrated. Read on to find out how you can get involved…

Anybody ready for 2019? No? The real question is: Is 2019 ready for us?

2019 is going to be the year of saying it how it is. Let’s kick off by using #sayithowitis today to get people talking. If something’s rubbish, say it’s rubbish. If something’s great, say it’s great.

If someone: goes above and beyond to make sure things work properly; double checks what they heard is what you meant; shows solidarity, or in any other way makes themselves stand out for the right reasons, tell the world and say it how it is.

“Have a gold star! You rock!”

“You actually listened to what was important to me!”

“I was expecting an awkward conversation about access. Instead, it was all sorted before I got there!”

Thumb up on a hand

Equally, if someone: patronises you in public; pushes you around; doesn’t listen; asks for the impossible; dodges a question, or in any other way fails to treat you like the freaking awesome superstar you are – yes, I mean you – then say it how it is.

“Hands off my handlebars!”

“I’m sorry, you appear to have got me confused with a stereotype!”

“Nope. Just nope. I said nope!”

#sayithowitis

Saying it how it is isn’t something we’re taught to do. But it’s something I consider an essential life skill. As a journalist, it helps me to reframe an issue and look at all different sides of the story, and then bring it back to something real that needs no explanation.

In day-to-day life with a complex medical condition, I can testify that it has saved me time, hassle, money and drama.

It takes practice. In a tense situation, it can be tough to keep collected and carry on. In a good situation, it can be hard to pause and applaud and make sure the person understands why you’re praising them.

Woman annoyed pointing her finger

General tactics to get your voice heard

  • Don’t drag in something that happened 6 months ago. It’s about right here, right now.
  • Keep it short. Social media has whittled away our attention spa – squirrel!
  • Hold your ground. Use exactly the same wording until your point is acknowledged, even if that means sounding like a broken record.
  • Say why. You don’t have to justify how you feel about something, but someone unfamiliar with what’s going on may need a few clues before they can understand.
  • Evidence is everything. Back up facts with more facts.
  • What’s next? Think about the next time. Yelling now doesn’t change anything, but talking calmly about the next time will.
  • Own it. What you think, feel, and experience is yours. Someone else may think entirely differently, but that doesn’t automatically make them right and you wrong. The opposite is also true.
  • Ask questions. Lots of them. If your instinct is telling you there’s something you need to pay attention to, then keep asking questions until you find out what it is.
  • If it’s important to you, it’s important. Don’t let someone else tell you it’s nothing without giving you a proper reason.
  • Call for back up – you are not alone.

Your experiences, good and bad, have value money can’t buy. #sayithowitis and share them with the world. What you say, know, notice and care about matters. By using #sayithowitis, you can show what matters to you. You can make a difference and get heard. You deserve to get heard.

Now go do your thing, #sayithowitis and ask the world: “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

I’m looking forward to hearing you #sayithowitis. Get involved on Twitter and Facebook now.

By Fleur Perry

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