Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When i show up to an event that's billed as accessible for gimps (whatever that means anyways) and find i can get into the space fine and use the bathroom fine, but that there's such a stench of cologne in the air (and one that others may find entirely dealable or not even notice) that i want to bleed out of and pour bleach into my eyesockets just to get some relief? Yeah that's totes not accessible for me. Colognes/ perfumes/ strong deodorant and cigarette smoke are all things that make me wheeze, get headaches, and feel sick. It usually follows if i've been exposed long enough that i get actually sick, like having a cold. Don't know what the scientific schlemeel is on that, but i've noticed it many many times over the years. So yeah, i'm definitely not a fan.

But there are all kinds of reasons why "accessible" spaces are so often not accessible at all:

-If your "accessible" event is one where casual use of the word "retard" and other slurs is accepted? Yeah, that's not an accessible event.

-If your "accessible" event is one where elders are made to feel useless, uncool, out of place, and otherwise undesireable? Yeah, not accessible.

-If your "accessible" event is one where poor folks are routinely made to feel like shit for not purchasing something? Totally not accessible.

-If at your "accessible" event folks of colour are treated like exhibits? So. Not. Accessible.

-If trans people are forced to meet messed up cissexist standards of "passing" in order to get in and stay in? Yeah, that's not accessible.

-If at your "accessible" event members of your organization are found doing pantomimes of people in wheelchairs attempting to access the space? NOT. FUCKING. ACCESSIBLE.

On and on it goes. Holy Mother of Pearl some of it seems so obvious, but people's ideas of accessibility are often so limited. i've had folks freak out at me many times for sitting in the seats reserved for disabled folks on the bus because the disability symbol has someone in a wheelchair and i use crutches lol. i want ideas about accessibility expanded, because it is expanded for most folks i know. Makes sense to me.

1 comment:

Tanya Gulliver said...

I just attended one of the "most accessible" events I have ever been to. Certainly there were some limitations but overall I was quite impressed.

A few things that they did that other organizers could learn from.

The event space itself was accessible; ramps at curbs, elevators and escalators. The biggest drawback was that there were two hotels about a block apart (unfortunately made necessary by the size of the event) although there was a covered accessible walkway between them. It was a challenge for me because distance walking is an issue so I tended to just pick all my workshops in one hotel. If I had identified this as an issue to the organizers however, I have a feeling it would have been addressed.

There were a couple workshops that included "walking" tours. Organizers made scooters available for anyone who wanted to go on a walking tour but couldn't walk the distance.

There was a unisex public bathroom on one floor of each hotel. While we have these at school and I've seen them elsewhere they're usually individual stall and a combo of "disabled/trans/family" which can create a line etc. This time they just took one big bathroom - about 15 stalls - and made it unisex.

There was a "calming room" - a place for quiet to get away from the noise and stress of the conference.

People with kids who needed breastfeeding space (or I assume other issues) were told that a space would be arranged for them.

Conference staff were available in each hotel to deal with any accessible needs that arose.

The organizers had also indicated that anyone could contact them ahead of time for any needs and they would make them available. So while I didn't see ASL interpretation happening, that speaks I think to an underrepresentation overall in the academy, as well as the fact that no one must have requested it (at least, I hope that no one requested it and was denied).

Overall, they seem to "get it"...