A Day in My Wheels

Press Release from the Independent Living Movement Ireland (ILMI)

Immediate Release 1st October 2021

ILMI response to the “A Day in My Wheels” campaign: Any campaign about disability equality needs to be led by Disabled People Full Stop

The practice of non-disabled people pretending to “experience” the issues disabled people face should be consigned to the history books.

Today (Friday, first October) ILMI strongly called into question PR campaigns such as “A Day in My Wheels” as at best simplifying the issues some disabled people face or worse, having non-disabled people talk about issues relating to access is patronising towards the lives of disabled people.

“That we are in the 21st Century and still see instances where non-disabled people simulate our lives speaks volumes where the discourse on disability equality is in this country” said Selina Bonnie, ILMI Vice Chairperson. 

“No celebrity or politician would dare to “black up” to show solidarity with the issues minority ethnic groups face. It would be seen as crude and offensive. “A Day in My Wheels” is similarly crude, simplistic, offensive and unacceptable” she added.

“Solidarity from our non-disabled allies is welcomed and celebrated. Allies can amplify our voices and be part of a Movement for change. But it must be our voices, our campaigns. “A Day in my Wheels” comes from the Disability Industry and has no place in building a conversation about access, about removing the societal barriers that disable us. In fact, by having non-disabled people talk about our lives it reinforces stereotypes that should be long gone in 21st Century Ireland” added Selina. 

“I am very disappointed and angry to see that in 2021 it is still seen as acceptable by some organisations to get non-disabled celebrities to push around in wheelchairs for a couple of hours as if this gives any meaningful insight into the lived experience of wheelchair users, or indeed the lives of disabled people who are not wheelchair users” said Colm Whooley, ILMI member.

“Commitment to equality and inclusion does not require someone to enact a simulation of our impairment. We do not need politicians taking to wheelchairs to understand the issues some disabled people face. They need to talk to us, through our representative organisations. Disabled Person’s Organisations (DPOs) would never organise PR stunts like this which are crude, offensive,  and designed to trigger a “poor them” in the watchers – the pity that lies at the heart of fundraising pageantry. DPOs bring an authentic and rich insider voice about the lived experience of disabled people. We organise collectively on a cross-impairment basis to bring change. We welcome allies to support that change, and ask them to avoid being tricked into speaking on our behalf” said Des Kenny, ILMI chairperson