DISABLED SPACE: Able by ability, not disabled by disability

Oxford Mail: Gavin Hageman Gavin Hageman

I have recently heard the term ‘able by ability and not disabled by disability’. In a way this is like perceiving the person with a disability positively with a half full glass which I have mentioned here before.

But to consider yourself able rather than disabled is a perception of yourself, or the way that you think about yourself.

Six years ago, when I had the massive haemorrhagic stroke which left me partially sighted and unable to move one arm and one leg, I was absolutely mortified and distressed by the many, many things I could no longer do.

But six years on from then I really can consider myself able by ability and not disabled by disability.

Since that time, I have been to an outdoor music festival and camped in a tent, grown vegetables on my allotment with help from friends and supporters, re-learned the art of cooking (as I write this I have just been making some beef and horseradish sausages downstairs in my kitchen).

Before my stroke I was a keen wildlife photographer and this week I’ve been photographing, with much help from a tripod and some good technology, woodmice living in the Ivy in my garden.

Having said all that, I was still a little bit bemused when a friend recently said to me why don’t you try the Jubilee Sailing Trust.

It has tall ships that sail around the world specially adapted for disabled people.

This sort of thing is right up my street and something that I’ve always wanted to do, although, in fact, I have been to sea before for a long length of time volunteering on a marine conservation vessel, rescuing marine mammals and birds.

Having looked into it, I found out that the disabled (sorry able by ability (ABA)) people on board work alongside the able-bodied people to sail the ship and all ABA people are given jobs.

That sounds brilliant, but when I began to think of all the gangways stairs, steps, stairs, rolling decks ropes, trip hazards and other things on board, for a moment, just a brief moment, I thought I don’t know if I could do that.

However, then I thought I am ABA, I can cook, share marine life knowledge and offer many other skills and knowledge that might be useful on board. So now I’m seriously considering it if I can scrape together the cash.

Why shouldn’t you do things? Remember you’re not disabled your ABA.

I have learned that the ships are incredibly well adapted for disabled people whether blind, in a wheelchair or whatever.

In fact people in wheelchairs can even go up the mast if they want or steer the ship.

Just remember that where there is a will, there is a way.

So why don’t you google the Jubilee Sailing Trust and have a look on their website you will be amazed, but most of all just remember that you are able by ability.

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