My disability is not an excuse. But ableism sure as hell tries it’s best to keep me from doing things.
I am constantly locked out of buildings. So much that at times instead of getting frustrated, I shrug my shoulders and go ‘oh well, guess I’m not going there.’ When I have the energy, I swear, flip people off, take pictures, and write nasty posts about it. And then there’s people who tell me that I just need to explain about it. Since it is Blogging Against Disableism Day, I’ll take a moment to explain.
I’m FUCKING LOCKED OUT OF BUILDINGS. It is frustrating. One of my friends wants me to go with her to a bead store that she likes but I can’t go because there is a MASSIVE step in which curb jumping isn’t even a possibility. There might as well be a big sign on the door that says ‘No Crips Allowed’, because that step? That’s exactly what it is saying. And people think that that’s okay. That it’s totally okay for a building not to be accessible. They’re saying that it’s totally okay for a building open to the PUBLIC can turn a chunk of the PUBLIC away.
And because it’s an old building, it’s totally legal. And that is FUCKED UP.
I was recently out with a friend, going down the ramp at the public library, and towards the end, we loitered while I tried to convince her to take pictures of the abandoned building across the street, and while we were talking, a car pulled up to the ramp and parked directly in front of the curb cut and just sat there waiting for someone. And when I finally convinced my friend to take pictures of the abandoned building, we noticed the car. We waited for a bit, hoping that the car would realize and move on it’s own. Like that ever happens. It’s nice to fantasize for a bit though. Of course, the car didn’t move, so I ended up trying to get the driver’s attention, I finally did, and the person moved out of the way.
And my friend looked at me and said, “wow, this really happens a lot, doesn’t it.”
It was a statement, not a question. I said “yup” anyway. But to really understand, you would have to be with us, during our hour long outing. In that one hour, my friend had to follow me around downtown, and we had to go through extraneous routes to find curb cuts, sometimes we had to do this while walking in the road, next to the sidewalk, she stayed behind me in case she had to catch me while I tried to figure out how to get over a chunk of curb to get to the ramp on the sidewalk (it was a curb cut with a curb, so basically a slope with a curb), and we often had to cross away from crosswalks (i.e. in the middle of the road) because the area was too broken for me to travel.
In one hour my friend should not be able to understand that it’s totally fucked up with how I have to get around. I shouldn’t have to spend half my time in the middle of the road to get around downtown, especially when I’m half the height of most people! Curb cuts are SUPPOSED to be legal and implemented, but their always so half-assed they barely help anyway. And no, this is so not an argument that we just shouldn’t have curb cuts, that’s ludicrous, this is an argument that we should make things right the first time. Yeah, you heard me.
In fact, here’s what would solve a lot of problems. Now, I know a lot of people are getting in a fuss over “drive-by ADA lawsuits”. Well, here’s the best way to deal with a “drive-by ADA lawsuit”: BE ACCESSIBLE. For real people, it is not that hard. It is not rocket science. And if you really can’t figure out how to be accessible then ASK disabled people. Stop griping about people “lining their pockets” and being a big huge meanie to the poor business man, and just fix the damn things.
And for the love of all you consider holy, if you make the statement, “we don’t need to be accessible because I’ve never seen a disabled person around here’ PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE RETHINK WHAT YOU JUST SAID.
It is unbelievable how many times I’ve heard this argument. And you know what, if you stand at the top of a flight of stairs, and there’s no wheelchair access to the floor you’re on? You are NEVER going to see a wheelchair user come up with their chair. It’s not going to happen. It’s not because we don’t want to come up there, it’s because accessibility-wise, we can’t get up there.
Ableism hurts and it’s people who wield it in their thoughts, with their actions, through their lack of action, with their voices, and with their body language. There are areas that I am not welcome in it. I know it. I am reminded every day. I’m reminded in the moments when I realize private homes don’t have to be accessible and that there are far too many homes I can no longer visit. I’m reminded in the moments when I ask shops to fix their ramps so they’re safe to use and nothing ever changes. I’m reminded in the moments when places remodel everything except for access. I’m reminded every time I try to cross the street.
It’s tiring. And exhausting. And frustrating. I never want to go back to college again because I have no wish to ever deal with the amount of blocked ramps, out of order elevators, inaccessible bathrooms, and the construction that blocks about 70% of the handicap parking spaces. I have no wish to deal with that or go through with that again. Especially because I brought it up. I tried to fight it. I tried to explain. But no one listened. No one heard me.
People will tell me that I didn’t try hard enough. Why should I always be trying harder than everyone else? Why should I always be the bigger person. When people stare or follow me, why should I be the pleasant person?
If I sue, I’m bitter.
If I leave it alone, I’m not trying hard enough.
If I complain, I’m being annoying.
But let me spell it out. These are the things I want:
-I want myself and all disabled people to be able to go into all public buildings and through any entrance that’s open to the public.
-I want us to be able to visit our friends and family.
-I want us to be able to get on sidewalks like everyone else.
It’s not that much. Most people don’t even have to ask for anything like that.
People will focus on a cure for us. On miracle healing or the benefits of the ‘perfect’ diet. They want us to change our bodies to fit the world. That is never going to happen. I’m going to take a leap of science here and say it’s impossible. There’s always going to be disabilities. They’re not going to go away, so we might as well make the world accessible to people with disabilities.
I say change the world to fit our bodies. We’re human beings. That’s what we’re best at. We can change the world. We just need people to understand that it needs changing.