Friday, August 2, 2013

Why Is Accessibility Such A Big Deal?

Disabled make a point in social media and says that hotels do not respect accessibility rules
Ricardo Shimosakai, Tourismo Adaptado - July 31, 2013

I like this strategy … using social media to get the attention of businesses with big accessibility failures. It's a good addition to reporting accessibility details on dedicated accessibility rating sites like AXS Map and AbleRoad. Maybe the thing to do is rate all the businesses, good and bad, and reserve the Facebook and Twitter dings for the most egregious cases.

Man in a wheelchair facing a short set of stairs
The article also clarifies for me one of the reasons why accessibility barriers can be so annoying, sometimes more annoying than the actual consequences would seem to justify. The reason is that so many accessibility barriers are so damned easy to fix or prevent. It's hard enough dealing with legitimately difficult barriers barriers that require expensive construction or equipment to fix, without also facing barriers that are there solely because of a person's thoughtlessness … like a wheelchair accessible restroom crammed with wine boxes. The same goes for handicapped parking spaces used as dumps for plowed snow, elevators used to store delivery carts, and store aisles narrowed by product displays. Even if the consequences are small, these problems are doubly galling because we know a person made a decision that resulted in another barrier … a decision that could easily have gone a different way, at no extra cost and little extra inconvenience.

And by the way, that's why accessibility overall is such an emotional issue, as well as practical. When you have a disability, there are lots of difficulties you can't change, you just have to live with. But accessibility is something we know how to do. So, when it doesn't happen, we know our misfortune isn't random, it's the result of either ignorance or a conscious decision that that the money, effort, or creative thought were determined by someone too much to expend to make life a little easier, or remotely feasible, for us. Even though we're not supposed to, it's hard not to take that just a bit personally.

In Search Of Disability Culture

I don't think there's really a "Disability Culture" yet. There are several Disability Subcultures. Some of them are unique and more or less undiluted, coming directly out of the disability experience itself. Most are manifestations of otter "Cultures" mixing with and processing the disability experience. I feel like I want to expand on this, but right now I can't find the right words. To be continued ...