The Problem with Standards -- Advocating Disability Awareness
Updated: Jul 28
When it comes to work, including this very site, the problem with standards is not necessarily with the workers themselves, but with others who are not aware of the hidden aspects of their lives. For example, if you are disabled in some way and your disability prevents you from reaching a certain standard that an "average" person is capable of, your readers, followers, and customers may ignore or disregard your personal difficulties simply because they have a universal standard for all workers and content creators.
The problem I am trying to convey is that there are unfair expectations towards all workers and content providers simply because these expectations are "equal" to all, regardless of individual shortcomings. To further explain the issue, one can simply ask: Why do people (AKA, the content providers) face condemnation from their consumers for not complying with standard content creation, simply because they are disabled or have any other weakness or shortcoming that makes it more difficult for them to comply with average demand? In other words, why is it the fault of the content provider that they are disabled in some way?
People do not choose to be born with or to acquire any disability or disadvantage throughout their lives, and yet it is still, allegedly, the fault of someone for having said characteristic, all because it prevents them from complying with the content-providing demands expected from any other, non-disabled, "average" content creator.
I can give many examples throughout my career as a writer of the occurrence I am trying to convey in this article. Since I am easily exhausted by reading or being read to (I have chronic fatigue), there is only so much research I can do. It has nothing to do with laziness but with my own possibility of becoming physically paralyzed. Therefore, if I "dared" aspire to the same standards expected from everyone else in my niche, I would risk becoming extremely exhausted on a regular basis.
I am not ashamed when I say that continuous research is too much for me. When someone literally told me he would "punch my articles if they were people" simply because of that, I only felt the frustration of having to explain, over and over again for the rest of my life, that I am disabled and thus cannot keep up with the standards some readers may expect of me.
One of the primary reasons I disabled commenting on Quora is because people in general are not aware that there are people with disabilities in public spaces. Because of the fact that it does not even come to their minds, they are quick to judge one as if that person does not have any disabilities whatsoever. The attempt to explain over and over again is something I have enough trouble doing because it's not my job to tell people the obvious fact that there are many people with many disabilities online and in general.
It should be obvious that in order to be disabled, you don't have to be blind, deaf, or in a wheelchair; sometimes the people you may assume to be the most normal are, in fact, disabled in some way.
It is absurd to have universal standards for various works with no exceptions, because this is an unrealistic premise about existence and, more specifically, humans. When I comment on something online and people find me strange, I expect them to think of the possibility that I am not "normal," i.e., that I have a disability they are not necessarily aware of. The fact that some people have difficulties with communication does not make them "horrible writers," just like being in a wheelchair doesn't make you a "horrible walker" or whatever. The fact that I don't do much research on my craft doesn't mean I'm too lazy to do so. To avoid offending anyone, try to expand your mind into other possibilities about people, no matter how esoteric they may be.
The thing that was probably the worst experience in my life as a disabled person was when I commented somewhere about something I did not understand, and hordes of people laughed at me for being stupid. None of them thought, "Does he suffer from a disability?" Perhaps he has Asperger's." None of these realistic possibilities came to mind, even though people with autism and other "hidden" disabilities also use the internet.
The problem in all of this is the universalization of standards; the belief that everyone who does something should do it the way it is expected, and if they do not do so, then they "suck." There are no exceptions for hardships, and there is no consideration for certain disabilities that may impede -- you're either a "normal" person who excels at their craft or a "normal" person who sucks at it.
Consider the possibility that there are things in their lives that you are not aware of that may prevent them from meeting the standards that are expected of them. If they fail to meet those standards, it is not necessarily due to a lack of skill or intelligence, but rather to having a disability or a special need. And no, being disabled does not mean that you are stupid, senile, or mentally insane. Disability is a much broader spectrum than that.
In short, people should not be condemned for being disabled, whether they are aware of it or not. All it takes is to consider the possibility that there are other factors at play that have nothing to do with their skill or intelligence. I myself have written seven books and hundreds of articles, even though my work does not always meet the standards that are expected of non-disabled people. There is a reason why I quit university and did not earn a degree.
It was simply too difficult for me, even though I understood the material well. There was no assistance available, and I could not afford to hire a tutor. If I had resumed university, I believe that my mental health would have only worsened. For the sake of my mental health, I have consciously lowered my standards for myself as a writer.
I am genuinely exhausted from being blamed for things that are not my fault, such as being born with special needs. All we need to do is raise awareness of the "hidden" disabilities that exist in humanity, and these unjust condemnations will hopefully stop over time.