STOCKTON, Calif. — 21-year-old Glenda Watterson pushed her walker through Panella Park, looking for an advertised disability meetup. A glimpse of handlebars and the tops of heads over the horizon suggested that she was in the correct place.
Watterson considered that this could be another group of disabled people, or that they all came individually and happened to be near each other.
“I didn’t want to assume that the five or six wheelchair users in the general area of the meetup were there for the disability meetup,” said Watterson. “That would be ableist.”
Watterson hesitantly approached the group, looking for a sign or a group leader to wave her over.
“They probably don’t want to assume I am here for the meetup just because I’m disabled,” reasoned Watterson.
She looked at the meetup location on her phone again to make certain that she had found the correct spot. She glanced over at the group and noticed a few members looking at her.
It became too awkward not to acknowledge each other, and that was when Watterson learned that she had found the correct group.
As Watterson introduced herself to the group, she saw another wheelchair user approaching. She wondered whether to wave them over or wait.