Brain Injury Alliance of Washington Scholarships

Listen to this post: 

One thing that chaps my hide about “See my ability, not my disability” is that it puts all the focus on the individual and none of the focus on resources or society. While some people really don’t want anyone to see their disability, some people can’t hide it or don’t care or want to show it off. Any of those choices is fine. But if we really, truly, completely, and honestly refuse to see or acknowledge someone’s disability, well, then, I guess they can’t get reasonable accommodations, can they?! You can only be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and other disability legislation if you have a disability. Since we have that legislation, why do people keep telling us to stop being disabled or to stop making them have to notice it? Just because you associate disability with something negative, and you want to reduce or eliminate negativity in your life, doesn’t mean that we see our lives as negative.

If you have an impairment and could benefit from accommodations, you should get them. So no matter where you fall on the spectrum of wanting people to know about your impairment or not, no matter your intersecting identities, I want everyone who needs resources to have access to them. In this way, I’m not socially or politically conservative. But neither am I a happy-go-lucky liberal, who is the type most likely to demand that we “not define ourselves by our disabilities” or that “once I got to know you, I forgot you even had a disability!” What does that even mean? That once you like one of us, we don’t need ramps, low lights, large print, medications, canes? I’m sure people don’t mean that we don’t deserve accommodations when they say that. But if you choose to ignore disability, that means you’re less available for access when we need it. (Also, some of us do not want a crucial and often beautiful part of our identities and life experiences to be erased because someone else doesn’t want to face it or thinks it’s icky.)

Where this leads me next is to poverty. A lot of people with brain injury disabilities (and many disabilities) live in poverty or near it or with the threat of it. We also are a group that tends to have difficulties with some school subjects because of cognitive, sensory, physical, and/or mental health impairments and social life struggles. So here are the Brain Injury Association of Washington annual scholarships. They offer these by way of accommodation, something that takes a little of the edge off of paying for school or paying for life while you’re in school. And in my opinion, simply offering academic scholarships sends the message that, guess what! People with brain injuries can, in fact, go to school and even thrive. Yes, even with a disability. (For many of my readers, this will come across as obvious. But it’s not obvious to everyone.)

Please visit biawa.org/scholarship.php to apply. If you’re a high school senior or undergraduate in Western Washington State, you can apply for the Em Finlay Western Washington Annual Scholarship. If you’re in Eastern Washington State, you can apply for the Eastern Washington Student Scholarship. There’s a scholarship for people who are studying in a field that will advance brain injury knowledge. These scholarships aren’t large, but they are something. They’re a little boost and a message that people with brain injury disabilities can and should go for college, university, or vocational school if that’s what they want to do.