I was, as I said, a little disturbed at the lack of people with disabilities working the show rather than simply attending the show. I decided, then, that I’d have conversations with the non-disabled staff just like I’d have with someone who had a disability and was working the same booth.
So, I had a huge chat with a transportation guy who showed me a new accessible bus. I looked around, remarked that it was my first time on a city bus and would be the last time I was on one. He talked to me a little more about the space and the accessible configuration of that space. I said the issue wasn’t space the issue was safety. He then started to talk about the safety features. I stopped him and talked to him about the social side of safety. The other passengers and their reaction to me and my chair getting on the bus and taking time. The anger and frustration that I know would be part of that experience both for me and the driver. At this point a woman with a disability got on the bus and between the two of us we played ping pong with the realities of social and physical violence which comes with being on transit. A full 5% of the time I get on the subway I am met with hostility to the point of violence when I want to park my chair in the accessible space. In fact, I have not ridden the subway for several months because the last time I was on I was so frightened for my physical safety that I was traumatized by the experience. You can’t talk about accessibility without talking about safety. The woman with the disability who had got on and I both agreed that, it’s wonderful to have an accessible bus but it would be nice to have an accessible bus.
Then it was the chat with the non-disabled accessibility officer for a large city service who did not know that there was an International Day of Disabled Persons or when it was, which would explain why there had never, in that service been any acknowledgement of the day in the same way as they had with International Women’s Day or Gay Pride day or Caribana weekend. She rapidly took notes, but, um, if your sole job is about accessibility and disability, um, shouldn’t that be a given.
After that I spoke about hate crime statistics with someone from a government department that kept wanting to talk to me about the virtue of doing customer service training as a means of social change. Seriously.
I’m being a little mean. I know.
Everyone I spoke to was really nice, was really interested in our conversations and was willing to take input on various issues.
I just wished that they saw ‘accessibility’ as maybe people with disabilities having access to jobs where their experience as people with disabilities would give them a depth of understanding of both the social or the physical aspects of disabilities.
The one disabled salesman I met, man, he could sell. His disability gave him a credibility that others lacked. I’m not sure why that’s not obvious.
So, now it comes off that I’m prejudiced against the non-disabled, I’m not really, I’m married to one and some of my best friends are non-disabled.