With the London 2012 Paralympic Games getting under way this week, disability is more visible than ever before. When we look at these fantastically fit athletes though, we only see the tip of the iceberg. Many people living with a disability do not have that level of physical or economic freedom. Many of them find day-to-day live very difficult indeed, and that includes their relationships and sex lives.
Not all intimacy issues are simple to solve, but there is much that can be done to help develop or rediscover disabled people's sex lives. By recognising what thoughts, feelings or issues are creating barriers, disabled people can make steps and adjustments towards having a happy and healthy sex life.
Dr Tuppy Owens, the founder of Outsiders - a charity which helps disabled people to meet others and form relationships - says:
"We live in an era where everybody expects a quick fix to their problems, yet the sexual problems of disabled people are shied away from. Many young disabled people who are integrated in society feel they should have a able bodied partner. But it's not until you love yourself, including your impairments, that you can expect to be loved by someone else."
To help with this, Dr Owens has set up Sexual Freedom Day for Disabled People.
The 2012 event will be taking place on Monday 24th September, 2-6pm at the Doodle Bar near Battersea Park in London. There will be a debate, performances, a tactile fashion show, Japanese bondage and LGBTI information, plus a chance for disabled people to ask questions about sex.
Most humans crave physical intimacy with others, so why should having a disability - physical or otherwise - make you any different? Everyone should have the opportunity to discover their sexual side and learn what works for them. Let's hope that information services provided by Outsiders, Brook, and Leonard Cheshire Disability help some people begin to enjoy life to the full.
Lori Smith is the BitchBuzz Sex & Relationships columnist. She is bisexual, non-monogamous and extremely curious about all things sex-related. That doesn't mean she's tried all of them just yet though!