International Day of People with Disabilities

Friday, December 3, 2021

Hi, Pathfinders and Starfinders! We’re lucky to have a community full of awesome people with so many different identities and experiences. Today, we want to give the spotlight to members of our community with disabilities. These folks are game designers, content creators, players and GMs, business owners, writers, and artists. Please take a few moments to learn more about them in their own words.

Two separate illustrations of the pathfinder and starfinder iconics with 'community blog' in white text overlayed over the top

Zigvigix, Illustration by Sebastien Rodriguez, from the Starfinder Society Organized Play Program
Zigivix, Illustration by Sebastien Rodriguez: An insect-like, bipedal alien in a silverly space suit, sitting in an automated wheelchair with a data pad popped up

GM Numbat (they/she)

I started playing RPGs in the mid-late ‘70s, enjoying the original D&D with its flimsy booklets and fun dice. Within a year, I was running games at my all-girls high school. I’ve played many systems over the years, though usually only briefly and with long breaks between. Partly this was because of a complex interaction of several chronic mental and physical conditions which can limit my abilities. I am grateful for the Paizo Organized Play community, where I found an accepting and welcoming home.

None of my health concerns are obvious by looking at me. The major advantage to this is that when I have a good day, no one prejudges me simply based on appearance. The major disadvantage is that when I am having a bad day, it is difficult for some to understand, as I look “normal.” Over time, I have become better at learning my limits and predicting some of those times that I need to cut back on commitments. Still, I can be caught out with an unexpected flare and have to pull out of playing, or worse, running a game. I always feel terrible when I do, even though most of our community has been wonderfully supportive. Dietary restrictions are a challenge, especially when traveling or wanting to socialize. I catch myself annoyed by someone’s fidgeting or apparent distraction at the table and remind myself that this may be their coping mechanism, just as I have mine. We are each so individual, with our own needs and concerns, often not obvious to others. Let us celebrate those differences and the unique perspective they bring.


Ivis K. Flanagan (she/her)

Disabilities come in many forms. There are disabilities that the world can observe and recognize. There are others, though, that people fight in the dark, because the social stigma of them can be a silence spell, where the anxiety of the possible response is more encompassing than the darkness of suffering alone. PTSD is one of those.

PTSD is the demon that I fight. While many often associate this fight with former soldiers or others who have been in warzones, those are not the only demons at hand. Any traumatic event can be a catalyst. This is my fight—utilizing weapons of words, medications, and therapy in the ongoing battle. I now add to these this transparency in the hopes that someone else will see that they aren’t alone. You have allies who know these battlefields well.

Another weapon against it is finding safe spaces and friends who care. I have been able to do that through this community—the players, volunteers, freelancers, and staff who I am lucky to call colleagues and friends. This community is ever growing, and its values of inclusion, diversity, and honesty are why it is a safe space, a space I am grateful to help create, and a place where no one has to fight alone.


Tassada Kor Full, “Illustration by Milos Rocenovic from SFS #4-06: Combatants’ Concerto: Prelude to Revolution
Tassada Kor, Illustration by Milos Rocenovic: A vesk in a white uniform with gold trim, sitting in a high backed automated wheelchair

Avi Kool (they/them)

Hi all! I’m senior editor at Paizo (on Twitter at @legalizegoblins) and multiply disabled, both physically and mentally. Due to hypermobility and congenital muscle issues, I have numerous joint conditions and when walking for more than a few minutes, I have to wear braces on my knees to reduce pain. This can lead to awkward questions, uncomfortable assumptions, and a sense of self-consciousness. Sticking out in public is challenging, whether it’s the braces themselves or the need to use the elevator when all my friends automatically go for the stairs. Additionally, I have a whole cocktail of mental and learning disabilities. This isn’t uncommon; comorbidity is the norm for mental illness and learning disabilities, which is why you often see people listing out a number of disorders. Here’s my list: bipolar disorder, OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, and dyscalculia. I struggle with feeling self-conscious about the number of health problems I face, but there’s no need to be ashamed. Disability is actually extremely common, though we don’t talk about it like it is, and many people with disabilities have more than one.

It’s been a huge pleasure to see disability become more prominent in our games. I feel so lucky to have worked on books like Grand Bazaar, where I gave my NPC, Arhan Benimaya, a service dog. Disability *is* normal, and we should treat it as such.


Dave Nelson (he/they)

Hey everybody! I'm Dave Nelson and I live with a handful of disabilities, mainly autism, dyslexia/dysgraphia, and anxiety. Often these "invisible" disabilities get either swept under the rug or have their legitimacy questioned. It makes it quite the uphill battle to get recognized and taken seriously. I feel very strongly that more exposure to what folks with these disabilities are actually like and what they go through will help combat these issues. So from the very start of my writing career I have tried to champion neurodiverse causes and representation as best I can. You can find examples of my neurodiverse characters both in Lost Omens Grand Bazaar in the form of Erikanesh, or the upcoming Absalom, City of Lost Omens with Chun Hye-Seung. You can find me on Twitter @davicthegrey, talking about my experiences, games, and all other manner of things.


Chun Hae Seung, Illustration by Alex Stone, from Pathfinder Absalom, City of Lost Omens
Chun Hae Seung, Illustration by Alex Stone: a warrior in a green tunic with a sword at their hip and a glaive in their hand, looks into the distnace

Stefan “Waffles” Timmons (he/him)

Hello, I am Stefan, better known in the TTRPG sphere as Waffles from WafflesMapleSyrup LLC. I am a disabled US Navy veteran with major depressive disorder, tinnitus, as well as other depressive contributing factors such as insomnia and chronic pain. I have battled with suicide in my life and strive to have nobody need to fight that battle alone.

I am one of the two CEOs of WafflesMapleSyrup, who run two separate streams and podcasts. I am the GM of our Starfinder show Journeys Adrift, and I play an android magus (Arc II) in our Strength of Thousands show, Outcast & Outclassed. TTRPGs have given me a close-knit group of friends and a significant other that keep my head up and let me strive to do better in life.

WafflesMapleSyrup strives to reduce the stigma against mental health with our platform in TTRPGs, and because of their similar standards, love to do so with Paizo. We've participated in PaizoCon streams, Jasper's Game Day, and Paizo events, among other events with various creators since we began.

We aim to build our platform into something large enough to have the reach necessary to reduce the stigma against mental health and show that it is okay to be different, it's okay to be disabled, and there should always be a place for everyone at the table.


Esther Wallace (she/her, zhe/zher)

Hi y’all, I’m Esther Wallace. I GM Chromythica, a Pathfinder 2E actual play, and I’m multiply disabled. I have myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), two types of OI (osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare bone disease, and orthostatic intolerance, which mostly means I get really dizzy when I stand up), and other as-yet-undiagnosed chronic illnesses.

My disabilities come with frequent symptoms of brain fog, intense pain, and exhaustion. I’m still learning how to navigate as a disabled person in the tabletop community. Gaming spaces are so often not constructed with disabled people in mind; for me, it makes all the difference in the world if a GM and fellow players ask me about my access needs and work with me to implement accessibility practices. As a player, this can take the shape of GMs building in time for me to move my body or encouraging me to play online games from bed or a couch. As a GM, this frequently takes the form of my players helping me recall rules on particularly bad brain fog days!

I created the hashtags #tabletopaccess and #ttrpgaccess as a way for disabled people to discuss our experiences in tabletop, and I host periodic Twitter chats about disability and tabletop RPGs using these hashtags. Disabled people are welcome to respond to any of the prompts I’ve posted, and nondisabled people are welcome to follow along and learn!

You can find me on Twitter @dungeonminister and catch me GMing @Chromythica on Twitter and YouTube!


Illustration by Lucas Villalva Machado, from Pathfinder Lost Omens Grand Bazaar
Wheelchair Adventurer, Illustration by Lucas Villalva Machado: an adventurer, wearing blue and white robes with their hair pulled back, sitting in a wooden wheelchair and brandishing a wand

Owen K.C. Stephens (he/him)

Hi, I’m Owen K.C. Stephens. I’ve been playing and homebrewing for TTRPGs for 39 years, been a professional game writer for 25 years, a developer for 21, and a publisher and consultant for 9. My involvement with Paizo goes back to the early days of the company putting out DragonMagazine. I wrote the original Guide to Absalom as a freelancer, was a Paizo developer on-staff from 2014 to 2019, am a co-creator of Starfinder, and have done regular freelance work for Paizo since I left. I am also the publisher and co-owner for Rogue Genius Games, and the Fantasy AGE developer for Green Ronin.

Content Warning: Trauma, abuse, and suicidal thoughts discussed in the rest of this bio.

I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I have Civilian Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (also known as Non-Combat PTSD) and Major Depressive Disorder. I must be medicated and undergo psychotherapy in order to remain functional. This is much like having a broken leg and needing crutches—the crutches don’t let you act normally, but they do make it possible to get more done than you possibly could without them.

Gaming, both game-writing and game-playing, have been a major source of therapy and the ability to build a social safety net for myself. Before I was diagnosed, without RPGs, I would not have survived high school. I know games are important—they saved my life—and believe representation is a crucial part of that.

You can find me and links to my social media at owenkcstephens.com.


For content designed by disabled authors and game designers for playing characters with disabilities, check out Pathfinder Grand Bazaar and Starfinder Tech Revolution! For some great fiction, read “Wheels Aflame” by Sara Thompson.

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15 people marked this as a favorite.

As a Disabled gamer, thank you for this.


12 people marked this as a favorite.

As a blind gamer myself, I appreciate this. Thanks to everyone else in the community who also struggles with their own issues.

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

30 people marked this as a favorite.

The iconic summoner Ija was written to represent ADHD players and we have a new Starfinder iconic coming in Galactic Magic who uses a hover-chair. It's a goal of many here to continue offering more representation for players with disabilities of all sorts in our products and our iconics for years to come.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

We can all slay dragons together.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Proud to call you my friend, Numbat! ✿❀❁

Sovereign Court

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for helping so many people with disabilities, visible and otherwise, feel welcome in a community of skilled contributors like all ya'll. Thank you for your contributions, and here's to years of further contributions as we continue being awesome.

Contributor

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Numbat, Ivis, Avi, Dave, Waffles, Esther, and Owen, thank you so much for sharing your stories!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for your contributions. I wish everyone here plenty of good days.

Disability visibility is one of the things I became invested in quite early into adulthood (due to some experiences showing me how deep ableism runs and how badly people are affected by it) and continue being passionate about (due to being vocal about my own health issues and motivating and helping friends and acquaintances that they should make themselves heard and get the support they need. Which unfortunately nowadays is still stigmatised and often just difficult and unwieldy for a lot of people.)
Even if you don't want to be open about all your diagnoses/disabilities/health problems with everyone/strangers/at a gaming table:
Know that you still deserve support and should be able to ask for accomodations.

I hope to see more in the vein of Grand Bazaar from Paizo, since the disability aides and how these things were handled was a great hit with my players :)

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you all for sharing on this very important topic. I very much appreciate what each of have done for the community even amidst your own struggles.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

6 people marked this as a favorite.

I received a correction request via Discord from Waffles after the work day ended.

"My last name is "Timmons", it's currently listed at Timmon.
And my pronouns are (he/him)"

We will edit the blog as soon.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for sharing your stories with us.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As a disabled gamer with both mental and physical issues, I really appreciate this a lot. Thank you

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
The iconic summoner Ija was written to represent ADHD players and we have a new Starfinder iconic coming in Galactic Magic who uses a hover-chair. It's a goal of many here to continue offering more representation for players with disabilities of all sorts in our products and our iconics for years to come.

Thank you. I do love Ija. But also our friends the Skittermanders seem very ADHD representative too (in general).

Thanks for representing us, your disabled gamers <3

Also, all the love to Ivis, who is a privilege to play with and be friends with.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you Paizo. I have a form of schizophrenia and it took me years to accept that the voice in my head wasn't real and to actually want to take my medication. Fortunately I'm back on my feet with a clean apartment, a loving GF, and a decent car (even if it's used, heh) but I had to STRUGGLE with my disability to get where I am now. I can't even imagine how hard it is for others with even more severe forms of disability. So thank you for recognizing their struggles and mine.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Really appreciate this blog.

Has there been any autism representation in Pathfinder?

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mark Moreland wrote:
The iconic summoner Ija was written to represent ADHD players and we have a new Starfinder iconic coming in Galactic Magic who uses a hover-chair. It's a goal of many here to continue offering more representation for players with disabilities of all sorts in our products and our iconics for years to come.

I look forward to their "Meet the Iconics" entries.

Contributor

11 people marked this as a favorite.
keftiu wrote:

Really appreciate this blog.

Has there been any autism representation in Pathfinder?

Hey, Keftiu! Yes, there has been. Erikanesh, the owner of the Historia Reliquary and Chun Hye-Seung, the commander militant of Absalom's First Guard are both autistic. I try to add another autistic character or piece of representation with each assignment I do for Paizo.

The lore on the Changelings in the Lost Omens: Ancestry Guide is also autistic representation, as confirmed by their author, as well. Probably more representation I'm unaware of or forgetting, but if you find any more, let me know!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thanks for sharing your stories--I appreciate these so much.

Davic The Grey wrote:
keftiu wrote:

Really appreciate this blog.

Has there been any autism representation in Pathfinder?

Hey, Keftiu! Yes, there has been. Erikanesh, the owner of the Historia Reliquary and Chun Hye-Seung, the commander militant of Absalom's First Guard are both autistic. I try to add another autistic character or piece of representation with each assignment I do for Paizo.

The lore on the Changelings in the Lost Omens: Ancestry Guide is also autistic representation, as confirmed by their author, as well. Probably more representation I'm unaware of or forgetting, but if you find any more, let me know!

Glad to hear you have been steadily expanding the autistic representation!

The way the Lost Omens changeling lore hit me in the heart, I should have guessed it had been informed by autistic experience. Who was the author on that entry?


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I never thought being autistic that I would find representation of my difference so enjoyable to have. But Paizo proves that representation can do a great deal. I never thought about playing a cleric until the deity write up for Tsukiyo was released in Faiths of Golarion at which point I began to feel a strong connection with the idea of playing a cleric. Heck, even the D&D 5e Twilight domain fit well with him.

So I'm glad to see this representation continue.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

There were weeks when "can't do anything drastic, I'm running a game friday" was probably the thing that made the difference.

Lantern Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I am disabled (autism, PTSD, heavy depression).
Thanks you, Paizo for this.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for this. Really great to see representation on this (yes, representation matters!) and get a glimpse of folks beyond the names we see on the products. Huge respect to these creators.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Hello disabled gang!

Severe myalgic encephalomyelitis here, too. It's probably worse than the PTSD or the amputation, honestly.

Solidarity.

Grand Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

Huzzah! You're all amazing people!
*celebrate*

Wayfinders Contributor

7 people marked this as a favorite.

I love that this blog exists. I have two loved ones with hearing loss, a child with autism and have a few cognitive problems of my own, including dyscalcula. Disability is not this thing that happens to other people. It happens to all of us -- we age, we change and hopefully we adapt. Accessible design and societal acceptance just makes things better for everyone, no matter what stage of life you are in.

Grand Lodge

4 people marked this as a favorite.

As someone with disabilities I fail to see why it should be celebrated or that I should be identified by them, but if it increases awareness that those who suffer from them are still capable of contributing meaningfully and reduces discrimination, then it is appreciated.

Acquisitives

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Thank you for those sharing their stories, that's courage. Blessings to all.


11 people marked this as a favorite.

I had meant to comment here a few days ago, once I thought of more to say than solidarity with my fellow disabled people. Alas, I am suffering a fatigue flare-up from my Myalgic Encephalomyelitis /Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for a few weeks and many of my intentions are delayed. Fortunately, TwilightKnight's comment got my mental gears turning.

TwilightKnight wrote:
As someone with disabilities I fail to see why it should be celebrated or that I should be identified by them, but if it increases awareness that those who suffer from them are still capable of contributing meaningfully and reduces discrimination, then it is appreciated.

The celebration is to honor disabled people who persevere despite their handicap, just as we honor athletes who persevere in sports competitions. I don't identify with my disabilities: identifying with four distinct chronic illnesses and the aftermath of a stroke would give me an identity crisis. Nevertheless, they are a situation that I must deal with every day, like how I dealt with being a graduate student with little money or a parent juggling child care with my more-disabled wife.

Without appreciation from other people, we disabled people can easily view ourselves as defective rather than as immensely inconvenienced. Tabletop games are a nice outlet for us physically disabled people who cannot handle sports or even long walks. They are also a comfortable social situation for people awkward in social situations, such as from disabilities like autism. We gain appreciation from our fellow players for our tactical or roleplaying skills or just for participating and filling a useful role in the party.

Paizo including disabled NPCs in their Golarion setting fills their world with a richer diversity and gives an acknowledging nod to us who deal with such matters personally.

Handicapped NPCs also serve story purposes. The Ironfang Invasion adventure path begins with one NPC 6th-level ranger/cleric Aubrin the Green half blinded from eye damage while adventuring and walking on a peg leg due to a birth defect. The player of a ranger in my campaign decided to be the apprentice of Aubrin the Green, and even worked out a method by which the Point It Out action would let her character direct Aubrin's archery against distant foes. When the villagers had to flee the Ironfang Invasion, the party rescued Aubrin, who otherwise might have fought to her death. Aubrin became the obvious leader of the refugees. Yet due to her disabilities, the PCs ran the errands for her, which made a great party dynamic.

Later the party encountered Cirieo Thessadin, an NPC ranger, I mean summoner, who had recently lost a leg bitten off by a dragon. That module was building up to an encounter with the dragon, and Cirieo was an example of how dangerous that dragon was. Cirieo temporarily joined the party as a guide and the party worked to accommodate his disability to make him an effective party member.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

OMG this is so touching. I mean I have my issues, but I have been pretty successful in managing them.

However, I have *always* been proud of the way that the Gaming community is inclusive of all peoples.

Heck a huge percentage of the gamers I have met seem somewhere at least tangential to AD, HD, or both.

As to the comments about Autism, in my ~40 years of gaming, I'm pretty sure a LARGE percentage of gamers are somewhere on the spectrum. Heck, when a little girl asked Neil DeGrasse Tyson if anyone in STEM was dyslexic, he had the greatest response. He said "I have colleagues who have dyslexia. I have colleagues who are on the Autism Spectrum; I *especially* have colleagues who are on the Autism Spectrum..."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBD_LTPjYVQ

Liberty's Edge

8 people marked this as a favorite.

I had a big post talking about how some of the messaging here rubs me the wrong way and I deleted it and stepped away, that was last night, and now I see that I'm not exactly alone.

I very much appreciate the intent of this blog post and each of the staff and authors who told their stories, I know very well how hard living with certain disabilities can be as I too suffer from a handful of mental/cognitive disabilities myself and have both family and friends who struggle with their own mental and physical issues.

I am happy to know that the company is placing an emphasis of understanding and accommodation for the disabled but I do just want to take a moment to express that I am very much deeply unsettled whenever I see people talking about how one is or should "celebrate" the disabilities and "how they make us different" wherever I see it. I'm not going to harp on it but it's extremely tone deaf to SOME of us to see people, even other disabled persons, speak about embracing these things that actively and in some cases catastrophically impact our daily lives.

I know that sentiment is nowhere near the "meat and potatoes" of this blog or the commentary about it but I didn't want to let my discomfort go unheard since I know for a fact that I am not alone in feeling this way. I see some... erm, lively discussion above about permission, offense, and intent with push back against those expressing similar sentiments who don't get it so I guess the best way to make others understand would be to just tell you flat out, hearing people talk about how our disabilities should be "celebrated" is VERY much a trigger for some of us and I would kindly ask those who don't like that we are made uncomfortable by it to try and understand where we are coming from.

Again, the representation and compassion for the wide and varied disabled community are very much appreciated regardless, thank you for the kindness.

Customer Service Representative

25 people marked this as a favorite.

Hi everyone! I have removed some not so nice comments and others that quote them.

I would like to point out that not everyone's journey with disabilities or chronic illness is the same. Some people are able to make the most of bad situations far better than others.

I chose to not participate in this blog because I do not see my chronic, incurable disease as something to be celebrated. At best it has been an inconvenience, and at its worst it has been crippling. However, as has been stated in the comments, I do agree that there should be more awareness around the fact that there are many people suffering, not just from what we can see, but from things we cannot. Saying that, it brings me to what I always seem to be posting here, be kind. None of us knows what any of us may be suffering from. That is certainly one of the many things living with my illness has taught me.

At one point I was on several medications that were making me horribly ill while trying to get my symptoms under control. I was a hot mess of bad attitude on one particular day where I was angry at the universe for making me sick, angry at the doctors for poisoning me, and just fed up and bad-tempered in general. Lying in bed that night thinking about my day, I realized how horrible I had been to several people I had encountered. Normally I am quite a nice person and go out of my way to be pleasant out of fear of offending people, but that day I was a downright despicable human. In that moment it hit me that WOW, you really DON'T know what people are going through, and being kind to the people you may feel like punching in the face, may actually make a real difference to them. Not all of them, some of them probably still could do with a swift kick, but on the surface? You never know. It saddens me to see all the anger directed at someone admitting they may not be too different from those in the original blog.

Just like when we lose someone we love, when we become chronically ill or disabled, we go through stages of grief. Some of those stages we sit in longer than others, or skip, or repeat, or get stuck in. I know denial was one I sat in for a long time, before becoming quite angry and bitter about the whole thing. None of us experience our journeys in the same way, and since we have all lived different lives, and are wonderfully diverse people, we shouldn't expect others to feel as we do.

For those of you struggling, I see you. I understand you. My heart goes out to you. There is nothing as terrible as a "healthy" person telling you what you should do to be well, so I get that. While I accept my illness, and am grateful for everything it has taught me about myself, I will never be celebrating it. It is as much a part of me as my gray hairs, and I don't celebrate those either.

I commend my co-workers for speaking up about their disabilities so I raise my glass to them. For those of you not in a place of acceptance, I acknowledge that too. Learning how to play the hands we are dealt comes far more easily to some than others, so just know that you are not alone.

Thank you for listening. Be excellent to each other.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Wow! I'm at a loss for words!

Regardless of how you do/don't categorize yourself Heather F, you are a huge asset to the community and a great person!

Liberty's Edge

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Heather, thank you very much for sharing and for expressing yourself far more clearly on the subject and how we handle and feel about our personal struggles and disabilities than I was able to personally muster in a kind fashion on my own.

As my mother told me long ago, some people live with their demons and some of us fight them. I have respect for everyone here to has come to embrace their personal challenges and disabilities, their demons so-to-speak, but I cannot count myself among them as I have always felt they are truly the enemy within. Again, thank you sincerly.

-TMS


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I am somewhat confused where the idea that we are celebrating disabilities and chronic conditions comes from. Acknowledging, discussing, recognizing, accepting even, all of these are true to some degree. I would not have participated if I had thought of this as a celebration of those same conditions that make my life challenging.

I might choose to celebrate a community that has allowed me to reach further than I otherwise would, and has supported me even during difficult times, but that is as close as it gets.

Even within that wonderful community, we don't always get it right. I am ashamed of the times I have been less accepting and empathic than I wish. I will continue to try to do better. The community acknowledging and discussing those challenges others face can help us all to understand and adapt. At least, that is my hope.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
GM Numbat wrote:
I am somewhat confused where the idea that we are celebrating disabilities and chronic conditions comes from. Acknowledging, discussing, recognizing, accepting even, all of these are true to some degree. I would not have participated if I had thought of this as a celebration of those same conditions that make my life challenging.

The word celebrate has three meanings:

1. to praise someone or something with joy and festivities
2. to commemorate an event with ceremonies or festivities
3. to perform a religious ceremony

Descriptions of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities say "celebrate" because special days are celebrated in sense 2. Similarly, this week in the USA on December 7 we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. No-one likes that attack, the Japanese themselves regret it, but we keep it in our memories as a day which will live in infamy.

Thus,
- we celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities,
- we honor people with disabilities on that day, and
- we acknowledge their disabilities.

Shortening that list to "celebrate disabilities" sows confusion and forces "celebrate" into sense 1, but people have a tendency to clip phrases. It is like how William Shakespeare's lines about activities that make no improvement, "To gild refined Gold, to paint the Lily; To throw a perfume on the Violet," was shortened into the less accurate, "Gild the lily."


5 people marked this as a favorite.

I celebrate parts of my disability - my neurodivergence (autism, ADHD) are key parts of who I am, and I love them for that.


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thank you for this post, it's taken me a few days to digest it, and it hit home yesterday.

Parental disability:

My father loved being a volunteer firefighter with the local fire department, and was going on forty-something years with the department when he began having balance issues.

His workplace said that he was 'making it up' so he 'didn't have to work'. The balance issues progressed because he was too stubborn and did not want to lose the thing he loved -- being a volunteer firefighter -- because of taking Disability from work.

After my mom found him laying on the floor in the kitchen one morning, he went in to get tests, and while the work-sponsored doctor found 'nothing wrong' and made base accusations of laziness my father went to get a second opinion.

The second opinion verified without a doubt that he had a previously undiagnosed and unknown neurological disorder that was causing the balance issues, and it was proven conclusively during the testing.

His workplace then tried to say that he wasn't qualified for Disability, because he was 'gaming the system'. He'd worked for said employer for over thirty years at that point.

He's doing better -- for a given measure of the term -- but he still can't go on ladders and he has to take his time on stairs.

He had to quit being a volunteer firefighter, and his Employer thought he was 'making stuff up'.

That was in '03

In the workplace:

I have a coworker who has had more work-related injuries than the most injured (American) football players have in their entire careers, within the last fifteen years he's been out for back, ankle(both), hip, abdomen, neck, shoulder... the list is long and comprehensive.

He WANTS to work... but the employer is yanking him around because they don't want to make 'reasonable accommodations' .

They've done this every time he's gotten hurt, and when he rushes back from rehabilitation, they try to treat him as a fully functioning worker -- and then he gets hurt again, usually in some new location because he's trying to avoid injuring any of the previous injuries.

A different co-worker had developmental disabilities, but was one of the hardest-working people in the store -- his work ethic put most of ours to shame and he'd been working for the company for thirty-five years.

Yet when the District Manager came through, and saw him working at his best level that wasn't good enough for the District Manager (who had given us a defective and absent Store Manager). Said District Manager attempted to get said co-worker fired, and then when the 'good' manager refused, performed such machinations to get rid of the 'good' manager.

The replacement manager fired said co-worker without any of the employees having knowledge of it at the start of the pandemic (the co-worker had taken time off for legitimate concerns of health over COVID and was touching base regularly despite replacement manager's claims).

The spectre looming over anyone who has a disability is incredible.

It was only recently that my home state passed a law that requires employers to pay the disabled workers at the same rate as everyone else -- previously it'd been a fraction of the pay and that was perfectly legal. Imagine 'minimum' wage, now chop that in half for a disabled person.

Yes, that's what some of my coworkers were earning LEGALLY.

There's this false preconception that everyone can work at 'optimal' levels all the time, and any deviance is forbidden -- and this mythology springs from the infernal 'time and motion study', the 'work metrics' school of thought.

Being aware of and somberly reviewing how people can still work at the things they love while having health concerns should be at the forefront of all workplaces.

Thank you for posting this blog.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Thank you for this post, it's taken me a few days to digest it, and it hit home yesterday.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **...

Droskar really does take inspiration from Earth . . . .

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