Monday, January 31, 2011

i'm less a "build it and they will come" kind of person as i am a "come and fucking build it" person. Slight word difference, hugely different outcomes. 

Creating accessible spaces are a ground floor affair, in all ways. You can't just say (as has been said to me so often as a gimp, usually by temporarily able bodied folk) "if you want X, if you're not seeing X, make X!". Sounds good. Sounds empowering even. Sure! Let's make it happen!

Thing is? When all or most of the spaces in which one might hope to find or create X are inaccessible, those spaces cannot contain/celebrate/what have you, X.
So, the answer for me is not simply and only for X to create new X spaces, because really, not many of us have the ability or resources to do that in all instances. And it's not simply a matter of X showing up and saying "fuckit! We're here!" That does happen, and when it does i think that's amazing and is something i actively support (by giving what money i can to sustain it, by volunteering, spreading the word far and wide, showing up, etc.)

But it's also about working together with what we've got, working together to change the status quo. And "if you want X, if youre not seeing X, make X!" rarely seems to cover that. Stripped down, it tends to be more a "stop 'complaining' and do something!" than it is an invite to fundamentally change the way we view spaces and communities and who has the right to be there and how we're going to make that happen. Which is, in case it wasn't clear, what i prefer.

i prefer it because it means i stand a better chance of going to things, of accessing parts of my communities. And it means that others have increased option for doing the same. 
Which is the whole point to me.
Reality check: i try to balance that with the reality i happen to live, which is that, in general? There aint a whole bunch of people showing up to do this work, consistently. And the reality that many gimps where i live (extrapolable most places) are living on the barest minimums financially due to government "assistance", or no help whatsoever, which renders people fucked. And i balance it all with living in a culture that is still so mired in ableism.
Anyways, instead of "don't see X? Make X!", how about "hey, we're not findig X, how can we actively work together to change that?" Mhm. Sounds good.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Accessibilities information is really important to me as a disabled person. It gives me the opportunity to decide for myself the degree of involvement i can or would like to have with an event, organization, whatever. It puts the power in my hands to make informed choices about what i do with my body, and that shit is priceless.

Having accessibilities information on your events is key, and not just when you know your event is super accessible. It's critical, for example, that you not indicate your shindig is accessible when it is actually not. Seems simple, but it happens all the time. It makes a difference to me whether there are 2 or 20 steps, whether the bathroom is big enough for me to move around in, whether it will be a scent reduced or scent free event. It matters to my friends and i if your event has childcare, is on a bus route (and whether or not there will be bus tokens available), whether its trans friendly and elder friendly. It matters to me that if there are couches provided in addition to folding chairs, that people know those couches are for fat accessibility and others who require that kind of seating. Its important to indicate whether there will be sign language interpretation. It's important to know that folks who do not have legal documentation will be safe in the space. And so on. So many things are important.

It's important that the information you provide is accurate and up to date. There's not much that pisses me off more than arriving at a space billed as accessible only to discover it's not. And no you wont give me my money back. And no you cant carry me up the stairs. And, well, no, i will not be returning. If you think its a pain to gather all this info, try to imagine what its like when time and again, you have to face a wall of stairs when youve been promised none, or been promised you can comfortably take a piss when in fact you couldnt even fit in the stalls provided. Its all about perspective, folks.

So when you know the information, SHARE IT. If you dont yet know the info, FIND OUT. If you dont know how to go about it, ASK THOSE WHO DO. If someone comes to you and requests a change because of accessibility, WORK IT OUT.

Thats what makes communities stronger, more resilient and able to face the barrage of bullshit that the state visits on us at every turn.