An able-bodied person’s desire to understand what she takes for granted and the resulting research, complete with links to blogs by people with physical disabilities.
This post is being cross-posted on sarah draws stuff, my personal blog.
I drew this picture after seeing someone sitting alone outside a building. I assumed they were waiting for someone to open the ADA door. I think it’s great that we have legislation requiring buildings to be accessible to people who have physical disabilities. I really do!
But when I think about what it might be like to have to use a separate entrance and wait for someone to be available to let you into a public building, I feel uncomfortable. I imagine it gets tiresome to have to use a different door. And to have so few spoons. And to have to wait alone in a very physical way. And to have to deal with the things that I don’t even know are things. But one also probably gets used to routine daily hassles. Because I am able-bodied and don’t have to wait for someone to open the door, all I can do is imagine and empathize.
Or is it?
A lot of individuals with disabilities write about their unique and common experiences! Although I’ll never experience the life of another or the difficulties they face, the least I can do is read about those experiences so I can be considerate in a more informed way. Here are a bunch of specific articles by people with disabilities that I think are great. If you like these posts, consider reading other posts on their blogs or following them and checking out their blogrolls. Just keep clicking and reading and engaging.
- “This Is What Disability Binarism Looks Like” – about the aggravation of people assuming that because you’re like this, you’re also obviously like that.
- “This Is Our Reality” – about the effects of hearing that your mother would have aborted you if she’d known you would be the person you are.
- “Want to Know How to Talk to People in Wheelchairs? Start with Hello!” – the most recent in a series of posts about accessibility.
- “After the storms: shelters lack access” – an evaluation of accessibility in Red Cross shelters in Florida.
- “Disability Time” – a description of the difference between “personal Disability Time”, “Collateral Damage”, and “Bureaucratic Disability Time”. From the same blog, “I Love the Smell of Progress in the Morning” – a successful response to voicing concerns about a change of accessibility in a grocery store in Canada.
- “No we can’t or yes we can, what response would you prefer?” – a detailed account of how people with limited mobility do not have uniform needs, and the challenges that assumption creates.
- “Being an Unperson” – a video explaining one woman’s experience of what it’s like to be treated like an animal or worse based on her disabilities.
I hope everyone has someone(s) to stay with them. During the piercingly painful times, the ecstatic times, the absurd times, and the boring, everyday times. Especially everyone. But especially people who get overlooked by mainstream society.
So this is a PSA & Reminder:
- If you are able-bodied, think: what kinds of treatment do you automatically receive because of that? Consider this on a personal level and an institutional level to move toward an understanding that it’s an unfair system that lets people with disabilities be considered lesser, not something inherent about them.
- Educate yourself – #1 is a difficult process to do by yourself. Start with some of the links above! If you want to talk to a friend of yours who has a disability, remember to be respectful - because for you this might be a thought experiment (at first at least), but for them it’s their life.
- Don’t assume.
- Treat all humans like humans.
If you’re someone who has had to use a separate entrance, and have not already written about it, I would love to hear about your experiences. Or if you have written about it, I would love to check out your blog if you care to post it in the comments.
As someone from the outside,
I don’t know what it’s like
to be that person
waiting on the outside.
But I see you