I am currently in the process of making the first Ruh Global Communications podcast. As a long time podcast listener, I have always thought of dabbling in the world of podcasting. Luckily everyone here at Ruh Global was excited when I presented the idea of making our own podcast. The subject that I am hoping to explore is disability in our world and from the viewpoint of those with disabilities. I am still in the process of putting out my first book about tattoos and those with disabilities. I have collected a bunch of really great stories from those who have been nice enough to share their experiences and opinions with me. I think each podcast will have a spotlight on at least one of these stories.

Kevin Ruh
Kevin Ruh

I am very interested in the idea and taboo of tattooing as I have many myself. I am also part of the community of persons with disabilities.  To me they blend together to create an easy crossover. Most of the responses have been about the empowerment that one feels when they fully express themselves in the ways they like. Getting a tattoo is definitely not for everyone. Simply having a disability does not denote that you would never want to get a tattoo. Some have a stigma of both tattoos and disabilities. Some believe you must be a criminal to have a tattoo. Some also believe that those with disabilities are not capable of deciding a decision like getting a permanent tattoo by themselves. Unfortunately there is a lot of ignorance out there. Fortunately we can dispel this ignorance through immersion and teaching. People are not sure what to think sometimes and need a context to be comfortable.

When you see a person who has a tattoo on the street, chances are they did not get that tattoo for you. It was a decision they made for themselves to make them look how they wanted. Those with disabilities are simply people and why the heck should they not be getting as tattooed as they feel like? If it makes you uncomfortable to think of someone with a disability choosing for themselves, then you must learn to open your mind.

Sara Ruh’s dolphin tattoo done by Brandon Saunders
Sara Ruh with artist Brandon Saunders

 My sister has a tattoo on her ankle of a dolphin jumping out of a wave. I have over thirty, and not all are as cool as my sister’s dolphin. My sister also has down syndrome, no one told her to want to get a tattoo, she just wanted a tattoo because she thought they were cool. She went with our mother to a local tattoo shop and they felt out the comfort level of the artists around tattooing someone with down syndrome. My mother thought there may be some who would feel uncomfortable, but found the opposite. The artist they first spoke with was totally up for the tattoo. Not even the bat of an eye, because he understood that she was simply a client just like any other. The only thing that was any different was that my sister was having to get permission from her mother before getting a tattoo. Most of us just come home one day with ink in our skin, much to the dismay of our parents. My sister still visits her tattoo artist when she is near the shop to show off how well it healed on her. He is always happy to see her and is very kind. So before you pass judgement on someone who has a neck tattoo, think about how you may be the one with a closed mind who is not seeing the book beyond its cover. Things are not always as black and white as they seem and simply expressing yourself is no crime.

Our country needs to be educated on how to deal with one another on a personal basis. Hearing stories of police that have shot and killed someone who is mentally ill or seeking help for a mental health issue scares me horribly.

The recent incidents of people like Kristiana Coignard have weighed heavy on my mind. I hate to think that if our police forces were better able to talk people down rationally we would not have arrived at outcomes where emotion and violence have taken over a situation.

Kristiana Coignard
Kristiana Coignard

Coignard’s story is one that should not have ended in her death. Family says that she was simply seeking mental health help from the police. Instead she was seen as a threat, she was a slender 17 year old girl, and shot dead in the lobby of the police station. Hearing about this and other similar stories such as the schizophrenic man in dallas who was killed by the police after coming to the door holding a screwdriver and the man who had down syndrome who was killed by police in a movie theatre.

Imagining my sister with down syndrome in a public place, afraid, yelled at by police officers, I can only imagine her reacting in an erratic way. I hope to god that she would not be gunned down for not obeying orders screamed at her in the heat of the moment. She processes stress differently and slower than most. This should be considered by police when dealing with anyone.

People have all types of different processing methods in their own minds. Especially those who have a mental disability, invisible disability, so many ones we cannot see. Wheelchair users are an example of those with visible disabilities, but there are many many invisible disabilities. If we are to trust in our police forces and not fear their presence then we need to train them to deal with any situation. Dealing with someone with emotional disabilities can be tough, but is not impossible, nor should it be treated as impossible.

I would love to hear from the readers of this as well. I have asked my followers on Twitter to give me feedback or opinions to discuss on the podcast. If you have any tips, ideas, opinions or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] I think discussing these topics further will help us all. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I hope to hear from you soon.


To learn more about Ruh Global Communications, please visit www.RuhGlobal.com


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