When you live with a disability or health condition, you generally know things that able-bodied people or others just don’t get. For instance, people who use wheelchairs don’t always use them — and it’s actually not shocking to see someone using a wheelchair stand up.

No two disabled people are the same, but we’re constantly subjected to stereotypes or misunderstandings, questions about our disability and shallow representations of disability in Hollywood, often played by abled actors.

Hollywood representations are what inspired Imani Barbarin, the communications director for Disability Rights Pennsylvania, to start the hashtag #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow on Twitter. Barbarin recently wrote a blog post on her site, Crutches & Spice, about able-bodied actor Bryan Cranston playing a disabled character in the new movie “The Upside.” She wrote:

Among my many major qualms with the entertainment industry… they seem too comfortable with profiting off of disabled stories while keeping disabled people on the sidelines.

(Isn’t it ironic that storylines about how disabled people can do anything are always on the screen, yet their justification for not hiring us is because we ‘can’t do it?’)

Barbarin told The Mighty people were angry after reading her blog post, saying those with disabilities “have nothing to add to Hollywood productions and that we should just be grateful at all for representation.”

“Depictions of disabled people are often one-dimensional and devoid of the grace and nuance with which we live our lives,” Barbarin said. “Hiring disabled people and letting us be involved in our narratives would help give the community a more multi-dimensional voice.”

So, adding to that voice, Barbarin created the hashtag Thursday, which has since gone viral.

Others started sharing not only things that disabled people know to be true but also things people without disabilities probably don’t think about or understand because they don’t have the same perspective.

What would you add?

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Author: Elizabeth Cassidy