Thank you, disability campaigners, for the difference you’ve made to my life

 Imagine how ashamed of my body I would have been as a girl, being told that it was offensive enough to merit removal

Without people like Jane Campbell, who fought for the Disability Discrimination Act 20 years ago, I can’t imagine where I would have been today
‘Jane Campbell, one of the leading lights of the Disability Discrimination Act campaign, describes how much she envied her sister for getting a regular education while she was taught how to cook cheese on toast.’ Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

I was 11 months old when the Disability Discrimination Act became law, 20 years ago this week. As I approach my 21st birthday, it’s sobering to think that when I was born, there wasn’t a single piece of legislation protecting the rights of disabled people in the UK and that as I lay on the floor with my soft toys, people just like me – but infinitely more courageous – were out on the streets fighting to be recognised as equal. From where I sit now, it is hard to believe.

It is even more sobering to consider what my life may have been like without the act. Of course it’s impossible to know, yet I am certain that I would not have fared as well as I have.

As a child, I was often upset by being unable to do certain kids’ activities, especially at birthday parties (the thought of adventure playgrounds still makes me feel a bit ill). Through tears, I would tell my parents that I didn’t want to be different. At some point, they must have shown me the Disability Discrimination Act, because by the age of eight I could recite crucial chunks of its text.

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