Monday, September 20, 2010

Pump Up The Volume

Here's something i'd like my non-disabled friends, lovers, comrades, community members to think about:

Your ability to behave as though accessibility isn't really a big deal, or that it's a big deal but not something you really need to concern yourself with, is based purely in your privileged position within an ableist society.

If you've known me any length of time, you've known that accessibility is important. There's just no getting around that. The degree to which you allow yourself to integrate that fact into your actions is directly correlated to the degree to which an ableist society values the voices of disabled folks, which is to say, not a lot.

Think about that: the voices of disabled folks (which, if you've known me for any length of time includes mine) are not valued or prioritized in any meaningful way in this society. You access that fact, whether realizing it or not, every day, in countless ways.

Which means, whether or not you realize it, whether or not you like it, you are tapping into ENabled privilege in a way that directly impacts the lives of people with disabilities. That's definitely not some personal indictment, just a fact of living in this society.

The fact is that you've more than likely encountered more than just me talking about accessibility. If it's in the local kink community, i know this for sure, because kinky gimps have been speaking out about accessibility at kink events for a very, very long time. Friends, lovers, comrades, we speak about it, we bring it up on websites, we talk about it at meetings (if they're accessible to us), we talk about it over coffee, breakfast, and before/after sex and/or play. We are indeed talking about it.

But again, the degree to which the information penetrates is directly correlated to the degree to which disabled voices are valued in this society, which is to say not a lot.

So i want folks to think more deeply about what it means for example to give accessibility information about your events without having to always be prompted by folks with disabilities to do it. i want you to think about how your actions affect PWD on a daily basis. How it impacts our access to what are supposed to be our communities, and how that lack of access hinders growth on so many levels, for everyone.

i also want people to be more creative about it! We have such an incredible community! Talented on so many levels, resourceful, creative, thoughtful, diverse. i want more folks to think (and DO!) more about who gets to be here. i want people's actions to challenge dominant notions about who gets to be here, to turn up the proverbial (and literal!) volume on gimp voices for a change by working on cutting down your own background noise.

What are you doing, right now, to turn down your own racket? What do you need to help you do that more often? Are there disabled members of your community who have been silenced, drowned out or passed over in discussions about space and community? i guarantee even if you can't think of any, they're there. What would it take for you to reach out? What do you think would be positives for the larger community if that happened consistently?

i'm down for it for sure :)


Kaitlin Burnett said...

Thank you so much for bringing this up. Creating accessible spaces is very important to me, but it's so easy to forget about. As you point out, the fact that I'm not disabled means that I have the privilege of not having to think about it. I'm glad you keep talking about this stuff - it really matters.

romham a bear said...

thanks Kaitlin, im glad its reaching folks :)