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To: TedXSydney

#StellasChallenge was to fix things!

#StellasChallenge was to fix things!

Dear TedXSydney,

Make #StellasChallenge about finding and implementing real, practical solutions for the real problems faced by people with disability, led by people with disability. We need education, employment and the opportunity to make our own decisions about how we live our own lives - not well meaning conversations with prying strangers.

Why is this important?

Stella Young irreversibly changed the landscape of disability politics. She pioneered phrases like "inspiration porn" and reminded us that "you get proud by practising". She was firm in the belief that her disability shouldn't define her, and that she should be able to control the conversation she has with people about it.

She hated when people said things like 'the right attitude will get you everywhere'. No it wont. "No matter how much I smile at a flight of stairs, it won't turn into a ramp!"

And yet, #StellasChallenge, launched by TedXSydney and a host of other sponsors today, does nothing to address the real problems faced by people with disabilities - the things Stella was actually passionate about. There are no jobs being offered, no new funding for Stella's amazing website RampUp - a place where people with disabilities had the capacity to share their own stories on their own terms.

Instead, this campaign is asking able bodied people to speak to, or on behalf of, people with a disability - completely ignoring the fact that people with disability can talk for themselves or start conversations themselves. Like Stella did, every single day.

The first question recommended by TedXSydney to ask someone with a disability is "Would you mind if we talked about your disability first, so that I can understand how best to refer to it, and would you mind if we explored how it has impacted your life?"

Thus defining that person by their disability, as opposed to, you know - their career or their interests or their intelligence or you know - however they would want to be defined.

Stella refused to be defined by her disability - in fact to this day most of us don't really know what Stella's disability was. Nor do we care - because it doesn't make a difference.

#StellasChallenge aims to "share stories" and "create connection" or "raise awareness". But that was not what Stella's legacy should be. We know that there is no point in lamenting and sharing stories about how hard a life is when there are only stairs.

In fact, I do believe Stella's words would have been "Stop asking me about the fucking stairs, and build a fucking ramp!"

Please, TedXSydney, stop the inspiration porn and reframe this conversation. Give people with disability an opportunity to lead a campaign, and support us in obtaining the real solutions we need - because, there should be nothing about us, without us. And that means we should direct the conversation.

Reasons for signing

  • I am not a disability or a disorder I am a person who happens to be autistic.
  • I met Stella Young and she has formidable integrity, a heart of gold, and intelligent leader
  • It's very simple; disabled doesn't mean unable. It just means sometimes having to approach normal activities in a different way. Stella was about dignity, and being approached by randoms is not dignified, it perpetuates the myth that we need other people to "rescue" us. We're quite capable of rescuing ourselves, thank you very much! A better approach is to assist us to live our lives the way we want to!


2015-05-25 12:34:18 +1000

1,000 signatures reached

2015-05-22 17:23:58 +1000

500 signatures reached

2015-05-22 08:24:04 +1000

100 signatures reached

2015-05-22 05:45:39 +1000

50 signatures reached

2015-05-22 01:16:58 +1000

25 signatures reached

2015-05-22 00:36:46 +1000

10 signatures reached