Episode 6 Transcript 

[intro music]

 

Sarah Todd:

Hi, I'm Sarah Todd Hammer, and this is Positively Opposite, the podcast where you'll discover through the experience and knowledge of myself and others that disability is not always a negative thing — but in fact, it can be quite the opposite. 

 

[intro music]

 

Sarah Todd:

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Positively Opposite podcast! Today I have Victoria Rossi with me. Victoria is 20 years old and is diagnosed with congenital muscular dystrophy. We first met in New York in 2019 at a fashion show we were both featured in showcasing all disabled models modeling adaptive clothing, which is clothing made with unique features that make it accessible to disabled people. We became close friends and have bonded over our love for fashion, our need for adaptive clothing, and our disability experiences. Victoria is so, so sweet, and I always love chatting with her, so I'm so excited for our conversation today! Victoria, thank you so much for being here with me! 

 

Victoria:

Hi Sarah Todd! It's great to talk to you. I'm so excited about today! 

 

Sarah Todd:

You too! I can't wait. I always love getting to chat with you. I know we're gonna have so much fun, and let's just get on into the questions! 

 

Victoria:

Okay! 

 

Sarah Todd:

So, since you were born with your disability and I wasn't born with mine, I bet that our experiences have been a little bit different. So I'm wondering when you first realized you were disabled, and when did you start identifying as disabled? 

 

Victoria:

So like you said, I was born with my disability, and I was officially diagnosed at nine months old. But I was so young at the time that I obviously wasn't aware that I had a disability. I probably didn't even know what that word even was until years later. And I guess another thing is that the first few years of my life I was able to do more things on my own. I was able to sit up straight on my own. I was able to reach for more things, and things like that. And I guess that changed once I started getting spinal surgeries, because my surgeon put rods in my back, and I guess once that happened, it limited my movement a little bit. So between that and when I actually started using a wheelchair when I was around four years old, that was when I really started to be aware that I had a disability and I had more limitations compared to other kids my age. And I would say another factor was when I was a kid, the first few years of my life I went to P.G. Chambers in New Jersey, which is a school that is for all disabled students. And when I saw that all my classmates were in wheelchairs or walkers or had other important disabilities, that also was a way that I recognized that. 

 

Sarah Todd:

It seems like you were realizing that you had to do things a little bit differently pretty early on, and that makes sense. And I think it's super interesting to think about this, because for me, I of course became disabled when I was eight, so I immediately knew that something about my body was different from everyone else's. So it's just a whole different experience, so I always love to hear about the differences there. So how has your journey been with developing a positive mindset around your own disability, and how do you think this journey has differed for yourself versus people like me who weren't born disabled? 

 

Victoria:

So I would say that honestly, it took me a long time to have a truly positive mindset about having a disability. And I think in the beginning, I was okay with it, because I was surrounded by other kids with disabilities. But in second grade, I left P.G. Chambers and transitioned into public school, because my parents and the administrators at my school agreed that I was ready to move on from being with kids with disabilities and to just move on to a next chapter in my life where I can try to be more independent and do things that other kids my age do — whether they have a disability or not. So once I left P.G. Chambers in second grade, that was sort of a shock for me looking back, because for the most part besides I think one year in high school, I was the only student surrounding the other students that had a wheelchair. No one else in the school district had a disability. Maybe there were some with other kinds of disabilities, but there was no one else in a wheelchair or that had any other physical disability. The only chance for that to happen would be if someone broke their leg and was in a wheelchair or crutches, and even then, it's only for like a few weeks. So I feel like that sort of made me feel left out. Not left out necessarily, but more like the odd one out. Like a big fish in a small pond I guess is the best way to say it. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Right. 


Victoria:

And I guess another factor was that growing up, I had a lot of other medical complications. Like I mentioned earlier, I got rods in my spine because I have scoliosis. That's another secondary diagnosis that I have. So I received several spinal surgeries growing up from when I was seven to when I was I think 13 or 14. So between that and some respiratory illnesses, hospitalizations, and all of that, I just associated that with having limitations. Having a disability. And just blaming all of that instead of just realizing that these things can happen in life. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Right. It's always a really long journey I think for us disabled people to accept our disabilities and come to terms with our identities. And it could be made so much easier if places were accessible and people were more accepting and had the right attitude about disability. So I can definitely relate to you feeling a little bit like the odd one out at school. Especially because most people don't really notice my disability right when they look at me, and so that in some ways has been easier for me, because I don't experience a lot of mistreatment that people who use mobility aids do and things like that. So I'm grateful for that ,and I realize that I'm fortunate in that way. But there were still some times at school where I couldn't participate in something my friends were doing at recess, or I had an accommodation to sit in a chair instead of on the floor, and people would be jealous of that for some reason. So there were some times where I was treated a little bit differently. So it's definitely a very relatable experience for sure.

 

Victoria:

Yeah, and like you said, if the world was more accessible and accepting towards our community, I think that would have helped. Honestly, I feel like if there was just one more person in my school that had a wheelchair or some sort of mobility aid kind of like that one year in high school — I think I was a freshman. She was a senior. Like just that one small difference — it can definitely have an impact, which is why honestly, the time where I really started to accept my disability wasn't until basically college, because that's when I entered the world of adaptive fashion and met other disabled adults like you and other people from the fashion show. So I would say that having a disability when you're born with it... it can be different from having it later on in life in terms of that acceptance journey. But I also feel like there are probably people my age with a disability who've had their whole life that still can have a negative mindset. I feel like everyone just accepts it at their own pace. There really isn't a specific guideline or expectation for that. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Yeah, that's so true. Everyone has their own experience with how they come to terms with their disability and if they even do so. Not everyone is able to accept their disability. It's not an easy thing to do. And I think that one of the main differences between you being born with your disability and me not being born with my disability in terms of the whole acceptance journey is that you don't know what it's like to not be disabled, and I do remember what my life was like before. So I think that can definitely play a big role in how the acceptance journey plays out. And I also love how you mentioned that meeting a lot of disabled people through the fashion show and things like that has helped you with your acceptance journey, because meeting people who just have a better understanding of what you're going through and what our struggles are like really does make a difference. And I've totally felt like that has made a really positive impact on my own acceptance journey, too. 

 

Victoria:

Yeah, because even like you said how you remember what it's like to not be disabled... when I was, I guess, probably in middle school or something like that, and I would think about how I used to be able to sit up on my own, and I had a little bit more independence. Even when I was a kid, if I felt uncomfortable while I was sleeping, I could turn over to my other side or onto my back or over on to my belly. Once I got my rods, that stopped. And I remember feeling frustrated about that. So even with little changes throughout your life, when you're disabled, they can be a big deal. So I think that independence is something that I definitely am grateful for. For the things I am able to do on my own. But if there's something that I have lost independence in on the way, it's almost like having a second minor disability, if that makes sense. And it's because disabled people are applauded so much when they are independent that if they're dependent on something, we're expected to feel guilty about that. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Right. I love that point so much. And it's so funny that you bring up the rods as well, because I have rods in my back, too, because I got a spinal fusion surgery in 2016 because I also had scoliosis because of my condition. And even though I do remember what it's like to not be disabled because I wasn't born disabled, I can relate to what you're saying about feeling a little frustrated with your sleeping position, for sure, because I used to sleep on my stomach a lot, and now that's not comfortable for me, and my back does still feel a little bit funny. But I definitely am grateful I had the surgery. I needed it, and I feel so much better now that I had it. But it's funny that we can kind of relate to each other in that way as well. So I know you have a brother who is also disabled, and I'm curious about what it's like to have a disabled sibling when you're disabled yourself ,and do you think your disability has made your sibling relationship stronger than it would have been if you weren't disabled yourself?

 

Victoria:

I would absolutely say that having a younger brother with a disability definitely helped me embrace my own, because similar to school, knowing I'm not the only person that has a wheelchair — it definitely helps. And I would say that our bond wouldn't be... I mean I'm sure it would still be close, because I really do love and care for my brother, because he's my brother. But I think that it would be a different dynamic, I guess, if one of us didn't have a disability. We just both have that mutual understanding. And with my brother especially, he also has autism, and growing up with an autistic brother, I feel like I honestly learned more about my brother's disabilities than my own, because he receives more kinds of therapy than I do. And because it was different and new, I feel like I always wanted to learn about that, and I'm still learning about his disabilities even as a 20-year-old. So I think it's nice to have not only a sibling with the same disability, but a sibling with an additional disability, because it helps me be more aware of the different kinds of disabilities. There's physical, there's mental, developmental, and all different kinds. And it's really helped me learn ways to communicate and spend time with my brother in a way that I can't really with anyone else, because there's no one in my circle of friends that has autism. There's no one else in my family that has autism. But if I meet someone along the way with autism, and they, maybe, don't make eye contact with me, for example, I won't be offended, because I know that's just how it is with autism. Their social skills can be different from ours, and we should understand that. 

 

Sarah Todd:

That's so sweet! I figured you would say that you had a really close bond. I know you're a great sister, and you two seem to be really close. And I love how you can learn so much from him, and I'm sure he learns a lot from you, as well. And it is super cool how you're able to learn about other disabilities through him, like autism, because it's something that you don't experience yourself, so it's just really cool how you can learn from each other.

 

Victoria:

Yeah, and the great thing is even outside our disabilities, we have also the regular brother brother-sister relationship. Sometimes, we'll get on each other's nerves. We'll fight about what kind of music we want to listen to. I want to watch a certain movie; he wants a different movie. It's the little things like that, where you can still have a regular sibling relationship, but also have a deeper respect for each other because of your disabilities. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Yeah, I love that so much. You have what most siblings have with that nice just sibling relationship, but you also have more added on. And it seems to have a really positive effect, and I think that's great. So steering into a little bit of a different direction... I know that you're a disabled college student yourself, and I'm wondering what your experience has been like, and what are you studying, and what do you hope to do after college? 

 

Victoria:

So I would say overall that honestly, I've had a really great college experience. The whole application process went really well for me. I actually got accepted into all five colleges that I applied to, and it was a really big accomplishment to me, just because as a kid and even in middle school, I really didn't think I was gonna go to college. I never really heard about someone like me going to college, so I really didn't see that as a possibility. But once I started doing research with my parents and saw that a lot of schools do make accommodations for disabled students, it made me feel more comfortable and ready to go on that journey into finding the perfect match for me. So I am currently at Seton Hall University, and I study journalism. That ended up being the major I chose, because towards the end of high school when I had a lot going on in my life — both positive and negative — I resorted to writing, and it just became a big passion of mine. So I think it was really the right choice at the right time for me to do that. So sometimes with college, I get overwhelmed with all the work, but I'm honestly okay with it in a way, because even if I didn't have a disability, college can just be stressful if you have a lot of papers or tests or both at the same time. It's just expected at college. So I guess I'd rather be stressed about that than not be able to take a class because it's inaccessible in some sort of way. So in that way, I'm definitely grateful for my experience. My professors (for the most part) have been very understanding of my accommodations. They sometimes will even meet with me in the first week of class to make sure everything is able to meet my needs. And I always found that really considerate of them, because I think education — especially education after high school — is something that disabled students, for the most part, haven't been able to experience in the past. I think of generations before me that couldn't go into school at all if there was no ramp or lifts, and now I can take that for granted because of generations in the past that advocated for the need for disabled students to have equal educational opportunities. So I really have had a great time at college. I've learned so much about myself and the world around me. And I think that with everything I learn and with my major, I hope to have a career that involves writing. I don't know if I would report news, or if I would be more of a critic or an advocate. I kind of go back and forth, because besides of course advocating for the disabled community, my biggest passion is anything related to the entertainment industry and theater, especially. So sometimes, I think about, “What if I spent my time interviewing celebrities or reviewing Broadway musicals?” But then I go back to, “What if I want to educate people on issues in the community?” or, “What if I want to sort of combine those two, and maybe write about accessibility in theaters or accurate disabled representation in the media?” So it's not fully figured out, but I think once I find that perfect solution for me, I'm gonna be very happy about it.

 

Sarah Todd:

Oh, my gosh. I love that so much. I think you can do it all. You have so many great ideas. I love your idea about writing about accessibility in theaters and disability representation in the theater industry. That is so cool. I love that. I think that's something that needs to be talked about more, and it's super cool, because you'd be combining your love for writing with your disability advocacy work. I think that's super cool. And I think, seriously, you can do whatever you want with your journalism career. There's so many things that you can do with it. And I've seen some of the writing you've done on your Instagram. I especially loved the letter you wrote to your body — the “Letter to My Body” piece you did a while ago. That was so good. So I think no matter what you do, you'll definitely be really successful, and you have a lot of ideas. You have a lot to offer, so I really love that. And also regarding college, I think it's really interesting that you were thinking ahead of time wondering if you'd be able to go to college, and then you've gotten to go, and you've seen how possible it is for you. And I definitely had some similar thoughts with myself. I always knew that I wanted to go to college, and I knew that I would find a way to go to college, but I definitely did have to think a lot about it ahead of time and make sure that I was prepared so that I could go and be independent. So for us disabled college students, we definitely do have to do a little bit of extra thinking before we head off to college so that we can study and have our accommodations met and just be a college student like everyone else. So I  could definitely relate to what you were saying about your worries beforehand. 

 

Victoria:

Yeah, and honestly sometimes, there's still a couple complications in college — at least in my state. I don't know if it's different because you're down in southern U.S. and I'm northern U.S. But Seton Hall would not provide transportation for me, which usually is not a big deal, because when I was in high school, I would just take the bus that had a ramp. But once I left high school, that obviously wasn't an option, because it's a completely different district. So it would sometimes be hectic to figure out if my parents were driving me or if I was taking a van through the transportation company through my brother's school. So I guess that was the one other issue that I've faced. But again, compared to everything else that could happen in my college experiences, I am grateful, and I definitely would say it's a little easier, because I commute, which means I stay home. I don't stay in a dorm, because even if I wasn't disabled, I'm just a person that enjoys being at home when they're not at school. And I've been so used to sleeping in my own bed for my whole life. And I didn't know if the dorms would be big enough for all of my medical supplies, and I don't know how I would have felt if I had a roommate that I didn't know before college. How they would have felt about me having a disability. And with all those things, I just figured I'd rather commute and figure it out that way than have to find someone to stay with me overnight in a dorm and who would help me get ready for the day. And it would have been a completely different thing, because when it comes to getting ready for the day, I'm really not independent at all. I can't get dressed on my own. I can't take a shower on my own or do anything like that. So I would say that commuting is a great option, and I'm happy I chose a school that is so close to my home, because I'm able to commute. It's only 20 something minutes away from my house. So again, I'm really nitpicking at this point of the complications, but really, I can't complain too much about my college experience overall. It's been great all things considered. 

 

Sarah Todd:

I'm so happy for you! I think it definitely sounds like you made the right choice and you're happy with commuting. Everyone has their own preferences, and some people do enjoy living in a dorm, and other people don't, and it's just whatever works best for each person. And as a disabled person, it definitely can be so much harder living on campus, especially if you're someone who might need an aide. And trying to figure out how you're going to be independent can be so difficult. And that's something I wondered about before I went to college, because I do need help with a lot of things, like doing my hair and getting dressed. And I can't take a shower if the shower is not made for me, so I can take a shower in my bathroom at home, but that's it. So I wasn't sure what I was going to do, and I briefly considered hiring an aide, but I was fortunate enough that my school made great accommodations for me, and I've made some friends who helped me do my hair and stuff like that. So I definitely have been very lucky to be able to live on campus, so it's been a great experience for me as well, and I'm so happy you've had a great experience in your college life, too. So shifting gears to how we met. So you and I met at the Runway of Dreams Foundation fashion show in 2019. We were both models together. We were modeling adaptive clothing, which is clothing made for disabled people. And this was so fun. This was one of the greatest experiences in my life, and I'm sure you would say the same for yourself. So I would love to hear more about how this experience impacted you and how adaptive fashion in general has just impacted your life. 

 

Victoria:

I would honestly say that adaptive fashion and that whole industry is the main reason why I have come to terms with my disability and have finally accepted that part of my disability. So in 2019, I was a senior in high school, and I was having a hard time finding a prom dress, because there were a lot of things that weren't working for me with any regular prom dress based on my wheelchair, my disability, my size, and other issues. So that year, my mom reached out to a friend of my physical therapist who I've known for years now, and his friend's name is Mindy Scheier, and she is the founder of Runway of Dreams, which is a non-profit organization for adaptive fashion. So when mom reached out to her, she decided to make a prom dress for me with the help of a high school student in upstate New York, and that event made me feel so happy and beautiful. Not even because I was having a great time with my friends — because of course, that was great, too — but when I look back at that, I just think about how it was me at my most confident, because I was wearing an outfit that was completely adaptable to my needs, and it was something I never really experienced before. Usually picking an outfit — especially for a wedding or my prom — it's usually such a hassle with all the factors I have to consider. So that really was the start of my journey of accepting my disability. And then once I finished high school and started college, that journey went up to the next level I would say, because when I was ending high school, Mindy asked me to be in the fashion show that we were in together. And that was in September, so it was only a few months after my prom. And that night, I just was surrounded by so many disabled people for the first time probably since I was in P.G. Chamber School when I was seven, eight years old. And it was just such an eye-opening and wonderful experience to know that I'm not the only young adult with a disability, and that disabled people are allowed to have hopes and dreams and career goals and educational goals in a way that non-disabled people are. And it was so amazing to share that mission of making the world more adaptable and accessible with the world, honestly, because New York Fashion Week is such a big event in the world of fashion, and having the disabled community be a part of that was something really special, and I will always hold that day so close to me, because I met so many amazing people that night. Especially you, because it was the first time I really talked to someone my age with a physical disability that was so friendly and open. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Aww, you're so sweet! 

 

Victoria:

It was just so much fun, and I still consider it one of the best days of my life. And I really do give it credit for why I am so open about my disability now, because I'm no longer ashamed of it now. I'm ready to tell people about it and to teach people about things that I could have taught them about when I was in middle school or high school. But back then, I just didn't feel like anyone would care. But now that I know that there are people out there like you who also are disabled and advocate for these things, it's been a big change in my life for me. 

 

Sarah Todd:

That is so sweet. You are so adorable. I'm so glad that we got to meet. I remember it exactly. It was so fun, and that just makes me so happy how much of a positive impact that whole experience had on you. That's incredible. And I feel so similarly. It was an amazing night — easily one of the greatest nights of my life. It was so fun, so I'm so happy that it was so special for you. And I always love hearing your prom dress story. I know you know that it is such a good story, and I think it's so cool how all of that came together for you and how Mindy asked you to be in the show that day. That's just one of the coolest stories ever. 

 

Victoria:

Yeah, it was really one of the highest points in my life. Just everything that happened in that year... it was really such a happy time in my life. 

 

Sarah Todd:

That makes me so happy. I remember — I think I told you I was at lunch with Mindy, and she told us that she was going to film for Access Hollywood — I think it was — with you. 

 

Victoria:

Yes, it was! Yes! 

 

Sarah Todd:

So cool! 

 

Victoria:

Yeah, and there was things like that where that whole story about having my prom dress designed — it actually got a lot of attention in the press. There were newspapers not only in New Jersey, but all over the country, that shared my story. And I think it's just really important to have stories like that in the news, because as important as it is to focus on other areas of the news like politics, business, I know sports is covered a lot, I feel like stories about the disabled community and the things they need to be able to get around and live among everyone else in the world... it's very important. And especially when it comes to adaptive fashion, because fashion is such a big part of everyone's lives. Feeling confident in your style and what you wear, especially, because there are other kinds of sizes out there, like plus size and petite size. Adaptive fashion should be in that same category. And I think the more we talk about it, and the more it's shared, the more likely it will happen. 

 

Sarah Todd:

I completely agree. It's so important, and it's something that a lot of people just haven't thought about, because we all get dressed every day. Most people who don't struggle with getting dressed just do it without a second thought. They'll basically just think about what they want to wear, and put it on. That's about all the thought that goes into it for most people. But for us, when we're really struggling to do it and we can't find any options that work for us, it can be really disheartening, and it makes the experience a negative one, and it's a negative experience we have to go through every day. So having the adaptive clothing is just super important to improve our independence and our mood, because we can't avoid getting dressed. So it is super important. And more companies — more people — all need to know about it. And I also do want to mention that I have been working with Zappos Adaptive. They're amazing. They have tons of adaptive clothing, and they have so many options that can help people with all different kinds of disabilities. And I'll be putting some links to some adaptive clothing options from Zappos in the description of this podcast episode, so be sure to check that out to see if there's anything that could help you or someone you know. 

 

[sponsored segment] 

Sarah Todd:

This episode is sponsored by Zappos Adaptive, which provides functional and fashionable products to make life easier. Remember that Zappos always has free shipping and returns up to 365 days. Super exciting news! Students, teachers, and members of our military will get a special discount when they use the link in the description of this podcast episode. 

 

[end sponsored segment]

 

Sarah Todd:

So, steering away from adaptive fashion... what's one thing you know because you're disabled that you wouldn't know if you weren't disabled? 

 

Victoria:

So the thing I learned that had the biggest impact on me is honestly such a simple statistic, and I actually learned it the name of the fashion show. And again, this is why this night was so important to me, because that night, I learned that over one billion people in this world have a disability, and that they're the largest minority group in the world. And it's so important to me, because many people — especially if they're not disabled — would probably see this as a tragedy and would say, “Why are there so many people with a disability? It shouldn't be like this,” or something like that. But I honestly saw it as a relief to know that there are this many disabled people in the world, because it made me feel much less alone than I did growing up and sometimes even in high school. And I think this just speaks to how society views disability, because it has encouraged me to educate others on disability issues, because there are so many people in this world that have it. And I think it's important for me to speak on behalf of the 1 billion people in this world who share similar experiences to me, and that there are so many things that disabled people miss out on because of the ableism in everyday society, and that the other 6 billion people in the world should realize that there's a whole other billion out there that should have the same opportunities as they do. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Yeah, I don't think I would know that if I weren't disabled, either. And I actually learned that when I got involved in the whole adaptive fashion industry as well. And it's so wild because as you said, we are the largest minority group out there, yet we're forgotten about so often, and we're such a huge group of people that is underserved, and were underserved in many ways in terms of accessibility in society, in terms of the fashion industry, so many different ways, so that's definitely something that I wish more people knew. And I definitely don't think I would have known without my disability. So this is kind of a similar question, but a little bit different. What's one thing you wish more people knew about being disabled?

 

Victoria:

I would say that I wish more people knew that each disability experience is different. No one disabled person is alike. There are many different kinds of disabilities. You can have a more visible disability like me, who has a wheelchair, who uses a ventilator at night to help sleep versus someone like you, who has no mobility aids and unless someone really looked at your arms because of your paralysis, they probably won't even think that you are disabled. And then there's people with more mental or developmental disabilities like my brother, who you see his wheelchair, but then once you realize he's non-verbal, then that comes into play. You can be born disabled or you can become disabled like our differences. And on top of all that, disabled people also come from different backgrounds when it comes to race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, social class, and all of these factors are so important, because each of these people in the disabled community all deserve the same opportunities, whether you're physically disabled, autistic, black, white, gay, straight, Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, no matter what identity you are in addition to your disability or disabilities that we all deserve the same rights, the same opportunities, the same equal treatment, and the same respect, and that is why it can be upsetting to see how society can put stereotypes on certain kinds of disabilities, and that there is such a lack of accessibility in this world. And I think because we need to put away those stereotypes, that is why I care so much about calling out why disabled people, for the most part, are not accurately represented in the media. There is such a small percentage of disabled characters in movies TV shows and plays that are actually portrayed by disabled actors. It's no different than having say a gay character being played by a straight actor or an Asian or black character being portrayed by a white actor for some reason. It's just as important. 

 

Sarah Todd:

I completely agree, and a lot of people will, for example, know one person who's autistic, and then they just assume that every autistic person is like that one person they know. And people tend to do this with all different kinds of disabilities. If they know one person with one disability, they just stereotype that entire disability, and they think that everyone with that disability is like that one person,and that's just simply not true. We may have some things in common, but we're all unique, like you said. So I think that people definitely do need to be more aware of that, and that all just comes down to education. And it would be impossible for everyone to be completely aware of what every single disability is like, but what I think could be a good solution is just telling people what we said today. Just reminding people that everyone's unique. Every person's disability is unique, and how they present in terms of their disability is unique. And so if people just keep that in mind, then they would be more aware of how different everyone's disabilities can be. And I also love how you brought up the points about all of the different factors that can come into play if someone is disabled and if they're part of any other different minority group. I think it is important to talk about the intersectionality of being disabled and having another minority group identity, because that can make for some extra challenges that other people who are only disabled and aren't part of another minority group might not deal with. So I think that's also a very important point that you brought up. 

 

Victoria:

Absolutely. And the thing is, even for me, I have a disability, and there is so much that I don't know about our community. And I think if we all just go into learning about the community with a more open mind, I think it would make a lot of great impacts. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Definitely. I think just being open-minded about everything in general can make such a positive impact. And especially with the disability experience, as you said. So I always like to end the podcast on a positive note, so what has been the most positive aspect of your own disability experience?

 

Victoria:

I would say that the most positive part of having a disability is meeting other disabled people and finding solidarity within your own community. Meeting people like you, who are also in college, who also have a physical disability, who also likes One Direction. It honestly is just so great to know that disabled people really can have interests and hobbies and passions just like any non-disabled person that's our age. And just learning about all the different kinds of disabilities, learning about adaptive fashion, learning about how to advocate for the disabled community by creating petitions, for example. That was a big part of my start advocating for the community. I had a frustrating experience when it came to traveling one time with my wheelchair. It couldn't necessarily fit within the cargo of the airplane, and because of that, my mom was out there for a long time helping the people load the chair onto the plane. And luckily, it did get on there, but the whole time, mom was worried about, “What if it breaks? What if it gets damaged?” because if my chair gets broken or damaged, then that's it. I don't have any other choice, because for me at least, my chair has to be customly made for my body because of my scoliosis and other diagnoses. So I think the most positive thing in general is learning about my community, finding my community, and sharing that knowledge with others. 

 

Sarah Todd:

I love that so much. I agree completely as well. It's been so fun meeting so many other disabled people, and I feel like I learn from every disabled person that I meet, because as you said, we're all unique. And it's so wild to think that I wouldn't know you if I didn't have a disability, and I'm just so grateful for all of the friends that I've made and the connections I have with people. And I'm just so grateful for that. It would just be so weird if I didn't know any of these people that I know, so I definitely think that is a very positive aspect of the disability experience for sure. So thank you so much, Victoria, for being on my podcast! You are amazing! You gave such good answers. I love chatting with you so much! 

 

Victoria:

Thank you for having me. I honestly had a great time. And whenever I talk to you about these things, it's just so great, because I feel like I really can't talk about this with my non-disabled friends. Not because they don't care or that they don't understand on some level, but it's just not the same as when you and I talk, because we both get it. We both understand each other in that way. And it's just so great to talk to someone who can really relate to you. 

 

Sarah Todd:

That's so true. I completely agree. I love getting to talk to people who can relate and who kind of understand my struggles. And I feel like that makes for a deeper bond and a greater friendship, honestly. It's so nice. 

 

Victoria:

Yeah, I agree. Thank you for having me. I had so much fun. 

 

Sarah Todd:

Thank you so much for tuning in to this week's episode of Positively Opposite! If you'd like to connect with me, visit my website, sarahtoddhammer.com. Transcripts of each episode will be available there. Also be sure to follow the Positively Opposite Instagram for all the latest updates and special content regarding the podcast. I hope you'll join me and another amazing guest at the next episode!

 

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