Part of Who I Am

November 17, 2016 | Ahilan Amirthanayagam

I used to walk past the 2013 H Street building wondering what it was being used for as I saw numerous events and functions taking place through its glass windows. I was curious as to what organizations were housed within it. I was always on the outside looking in and I frequently passed by the building since I became student at the George Washington University in the Fall 2013 semester.

It was not until after becoming an AAPD intern this summer that I found out that it was the stronghold of the disability community – a community to which I belong and a community with which I strongly identify. In my opinion, identifying as a person with a disability is something entirely dependent on how the word is defined in different contexts. I have come to realize that disability has been a common theme throughout my life but I do not believe that my life has been defined by it. Instead, I feel as though having a disability has given me a perspective that has benefited my overall attitude towards and judgment of others. It wasn’t until this summer that I felt any sense of a disability community. I think it was difficult to identify as a person with a disability when everyone around you seemed to be free of any. When a friend opened up to me and discussed her disabilities, it was not characterized in my mind as something that was part of her identity but something that she was dealing with.

I no longer feel that my disability is something that I am dealing with but rather something that is part of who I am. And it makes me all the more aware and understanding of the people I come across in all areas of my life. I am grateful for the opportunity be part of a program that allows me to celebrate and advocate for the rights of those with disabilities. I envision a future that is accepting and accommodating of the disability community and a society that celebrates diversity in all its forms, starting with an acceptance of disability as a natural part of the human condition.


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Ahilan Amirthanayagam was a 2016 AAPD Summer Intern who interned with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He is currently a student at George Washington University in Washington, DC, studying communications and psychology.

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