Open Letter from Adele

I am the Speakers Bureau Coordinator at the McBurney Disability Resource Center. I create programming to educate and empower people in the community to think critically about disability, be comfortable speaking about diverse ability as part of identity, and address the stigma that surrounds disability in society. I believe that sharing our stories is one of the most powerful ways to connect with oneself and others.

When I speak about my experiences, I use my own words for my own experience and I assume that everyone has their own philosophy around their identity and are forming a fluid way to speak to that. In some instances, strict adherence to political correctness has a way of shaping and limiting language in that we can skirt around issues of discomfort, which leads to fewer opportunities to make mistakes, learn, and understand. Using people first language is preferable for most; treating someone with the respect behind that language is much more important. For this reason, I am not wedded to the rhetoric of liberal political correctness, and I try to avoid wide-sweeping euphemisms when I talk from personal experience.

My own perspective on disability is heavily influenced by my personal mental health narrative, as well as my volunteer work at a program for people with differing abilities.

From 2008 until the time I moved to Madison in 2013, I volunteered at a program in the Boston area as a companion and care-provider for people of all ages with a wide range of diverse needs. The program aimed to foster independence while advocating for inclusivity, and providing social support for people with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, and people across the ability spectrum.

My personal struggle with invisible disability came in the form of mental illness. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for over four years, and recently emerged further able to adapt, persevere, and understand myself and others. I am open about my experiences, my past and current struggles and triumphs, aware of barriers that disproportionally affect people with disabilities, and determined to change the way we think about the human experience in this regard.

Consider becoming a speaker, or interviewing for Spotlight Alliance!

Feel free to contact me at: mcbspeaks@studentlife.wisc.edu.

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