As I think about the "reality" of a disability condition, I wondered about the reality functionally and the reality socially. I think that one can actually change the reality of one's condition. The reality functionally has been changed through curb cuts, TDD, and electric wheelchairs. Universal design has at times changed the environment such that the functional reality has indeed changed. Being someone with quadriplegia no longer means that I must live my life relegated to a bed, or unable to move about the community. Through creativity of people, the functional reality of many aspects of disability has changed and increasingly, people experiencing needen't accept many of the functional aspects of disability. Clearly, many aspects may never change. However, many aspects are truly due to an unimaginative environment.
The social reality is equally difficult to change it seems. How does one change the enviornment such that it sees people first? I have friends who have intellectual disabilities, yet they hold jobs, live in their own apartment, receive support from a variety of people, and generally enjoy their lives. Yet they are not seen as typical because the environment imposes a social reality on them that they have great difficulty escaping.
Clearly there is overlap between social and physical reality so that the distinction might be somewhat arbitrary. And the negative effects are clearly cumulative.
However, we as the church should be on the forefront of changing the reality of a disabling condition.
If I babysit for a friend's child with a severe disability, I have changed the reality of disability for those parents.
If I take a man with an intellectual disability out for lunch, I have changed the reality of disability for that man.
If I make a previously inaccessible building accessible, I have changed the reality of disabilty for anyone endeavoring to enter that building.
If I seek out persons experiencing various disabilities in an effort at evangelism, I change the reality of disability for those people regarding the Christian church.
Some aspects of disability must be accepted. Some aspects of disability need not be accepted if only the environment, in particular the Church would be what it was meant to be.