I'ntroducing me
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No, I'm not 'that woman with callipers'

I'm simply a woman - without the appendage

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My name is Julia and I was born in the south of England in 1961. When I was four
years old, while accompanying my parents in foreign parts, I contracted polio. The
consequence was that I was left paralysed from the waist down. Apart from that, there's
nothing to distinguish me from anyone else. I do everything that I want to do;
I go wherever I choose, and I mix with a group of friends just like any other sociable person.

So, why have I decided to produce this page? Well, it's for a two-fold reason really.
Firstly, because I feel that although I promote myself as an independent, self supported
woman, I am not recognized as such. Secondly, because I think that in order to change
that situation a large proportion of the public need to be enlightened about certain aspects
of physical disability.

First and last it is the visual impression that has the initial impact. Without blowing
my own trumpet I regard myself as fairly attractive - but I also wear callipers. In a
situation where I am walking along, it is the way I am moving that instantly becomes
the predominant attraction - not the fact that I have appealing features or that I am
a smart suit.  When I get out of the car I cause a scene; people stare at me - they think
it's their right to stare.  I don't stare at them.  There is also the infuriating way in which I
am referenced. The instant impression seems to be that I am different. I am a person who
is physically challenged - whatever that might mean. Yes, I'm disabled, but I don't want
to be referred to as 'that disabled woman' or 'that woman with callipers'. I know it's very
easy to pick on the obvious descriptive features, but why can they not identify me as, for
example, the woman in the black dress - just like they would identify anyone else?

The reason we are regarded as 'different' is because people with obvious disabilities, and
particularly calliper wearers, are not an every day sight. Like animals in a circus - we go
to see them because we don't see lions and tigers roaming around the streets. If we did,
there would be no circuses.

Without doubt, the situation has improved over the last few years, but the question I
cannot answer is how can we improve it still further? All I desire is to be recognized and
treated as an ordinary woman - and not labelled as 'a disabled woman'.

What are your views?