Tuesday, January 18, 2011

AA Again

Adaption And Accommodation: what people with disabilities want is simply what typical people expect - everyday. Sighted people expect lights in buildings. Walking people expect chairs to be provided for them. Hearing people expect others to hush when they are listening. Adaption and accommodation. Not only that, all these things are provided without even so much as a second thought. No one had a meeting to plan on how to handle a workforce of people who arrived - selfish demanding prats - at work with NO CHAIR and expected the company TO PAY for somewhere to park their asses. No one had to go to the human rights commission to demand that an employer install, AT GREAT EXPENSE, lights in hallways and offices. Nope, you expect it, you get it. It isn't an adaptation and an accommodation when it's for you, is it. It's simply society's gift to it's favoured child.

What leads to this little rant? Well, I went to a meeting yesterday and faced an obvious example of 'we'll do it for us we won't bother for you' discrimination. Snow had fallen over the weekend and of course sidewalks were covered in snow that needed to be removed. When we arrived for my meeting we discovered that the sidewalks had been completely shovelled free of snow for those coming from the parking lot to the building. This is an accommodation and was provided at some cost. However, the curb cut was covered in snow and slush and had obviously not been cleared. There was no way that we could get the wheelchair up and into the building.

Instead I had to get up and walk, on unsteady feet over uneven ground and icy patches holding desperately on to Joe's shoulder. My heart was in my throat as I carefully picked my way forward. I got into the building and was immediately distracted by the greeting and was in the meeting before I could think about what had happened. It wasn't until I was carefully picking my way down the curb cut towards the car that I realized I should have mentioned it upon arrival.

But, then, why is this my responsibility? Clearly the building management or building maintenance people were careful to make sure that snow and ice were removed from the pathways for walking people. Clearly the same people didn't think that the curb cut mattered. Clearly energy expended on those 'valued' was worth something and the energy necessary to make the building accessible was just TOO MUCH BOTHER.

People with disabilities are only demanding because resources to be allocated are already spoken for by those with larger voices and bigger feet. People with disabilities don't want special, we just want equal. Mostly, people with disabilities simply want to go about our days simply ... without muss or fuss or having to stop and ask, again, for what is given freely to others - adaption and accommodation.

15 comments:

Kristin said...

I'm sorry you had that happen.

theknapper said...

Amen.

Moose said...

My last place of employment -- a giant state-run University -- hired out the parking lot snow removal job. No matter how much I complained, getting from my vehicle to the building was a nightmare! First they dumped snow in the handicapped spaces. Then when I complained they "only" dumped snow in the wide areas next to the spaces -- you know, the ones you use so you can a) actually get out of the vehicle and b) have room to move around without scraping up another vehicle?

When I complained about that they kept 2-3 places (out of 6) *scrupulously* clean. The rest of the handicapped spaces were left covered in snow and ice. Well that would be fine if there weren't 5 people who needed the spaces. Unfortunately, I was the only one with a permanent tag [the rest were all temporaries] and the others just sucked it up instead of complaining, so I was told I was "just a troublemaker."

Not long after that I lost my job.

Andrea S. said...

Hear, hear.

This is an ongoing problem among way too many businesses adjacent to way too many sidewalks--and curb cuts--in my city as well (Washington DC). I don't ride a wheelchair so it doesn't affect me directly, but I notice and it angers me.

What happened to Moose also angers me. No one should be told they are "just a troublemaker" when they're just trying to GET TO THEIR JOB! And are pointing out obstacles CREATED BY THE EMPLOYER (in failing to plan adequately or instruct the snow removers properly) to doing this!

Andrea S. said...

Hang on a minute.

In my last comment here, why did I imply that it should have been the business's responsibility to instruct the snow removers to clear curb cuts?

After a little more thought, it occurs to me that it should be so BLEEDING OBVIOUS that clearing a sidewalk necessarily INCLUDES clearing curb cuts that it shouldn't require special instruction at all.

Walkers presumably expect cleared sidewalks to be cleared to a certain minimum width, yes? And expect that there will be some way to get from the sidewalk to the road so that people can cross the street, yes? (I am trying very hard not to think of certain sidewalks I have seen after certain very bad snow storms in my city where sidewalks were cleared WITHOUT ANY WAY FOR ANY PERSON, whether walking or riding, to get down from the sidewalk without burying their leg practically up to knee level in snow. These things should not happen in any logical universe. Ergo, they do not happen. I am covering my eyes and singing "la la la la....") So...this path should be via the curb cut! This should be by default, not by special instruction!

People who make snow removal their business I think have a certain shared responsibility in making it STANDARD PRACTICE to just automatically include clearing curb cuts part of the process of clearing sidewalks whether instructed or not. They should adjust their price scales as needed so that the cost of clearing a sidewalk just automatically includes this. And not offer alternate options.

By a similar principle, I think architects and construction companies should also have a certain shared responsibility in making sure new constructions incorporate universal design principles ... it shouldn't be entirely up to the people hiring them to think of it and instruct them accordingly. If I were sitting down to revise or amend the Americans with Disabilities Act or similar legislation in other countries today, that's one of the issues I would look at.

MoonDog said...

my favorite was the sign that says handicapped entrance and an arrow to the side of the building(and on the door that could easily have been a safe entrance but instead housed a shelving unit with a plant on it. so looking to the side of the building there is a huge heave in the ground so you have to go up several inches, but no way to do that, and you have to turn 180 degrees back in about one square of concrete only to reach the door that wouldnt have let you in anyways because it wasnt wide enough. we later found out that this guy was a bit whacko so we dont do business there, and I imagine not too many others do either!

Anonymous said...

Sorry that you were met with yet another challenge as you try to manouver in the world. I certainly agree that many of us have high expectations that are met simply because the masses demand it. However, I tend to walk away from your blog more and more these days thinking that it must be awful to have every issue become an ISSUE in your life. Each and every time my sister and I go out, we can identify a way in which her needs weren't met. That being said, I don't think that this has always been bad. This may mean she needs to work a little harder, push a little further to do what she wants, but it has made her one amazing young woman. Steadfast and brave, obstacles have also given her an edge. Most of us don't know what to do when something stands in our way. Not her, she knows that she will prevail. Fair? No. Impressive? Yes.

Anonymous said...

Once again we had the same thought on the same day. I put it on my facebook page. Someone told me to stay the *bleep* home them. Just how is that helpful. I'm lucky i n that as the owner of my business I can move things around at least as far as work to suit myself. I feel blessed in that regard. Sorry you had to go thru all that bah!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous With Sister, I love how you think it's great that your sister is plucky and that her life is an inpiration to you. You say that you are walking away from Dave's blog, a kind of cruel thing to say on a disability blog, I'm guessing its because you come here to be uplifted rather than challenged and informed. There are many of us who would like to walk away from unpleasant situations but can't. I like Dave's cheerier posts but I also am glad he still has the fire to point out obvious bits of unfairness. Until reading today I just saw snow covered curbs as part of the way it was rather than a reflection of who gives a shit. It isn't my place but I wonder if your sister feels a dual burden. Pushing harder to get what others expect and keeping a happy cripple face on for you.

if you get to be anonymous then so do I

Jessica said...

Michael Flanders had a lovely story about how wonderful it was to be loaded onto a Jet airliner via forklift (in his wheelchair). I have never understood people who got angry because the world was made easier for someone else.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Jessica, do you have the link for that story, I'd love to read it!

Kristine said...

Anonymous, Dave's writing a disability blog here. His reflections, almost every post, are about disability issues. That's what we come here to read. It doesn't mean that today's issue ruined his day or anything. He said himself that he forgot the snow the moment he got inside. He kicked himself later for forgetting to mention it, because if nothing is said, nothing changes, and it's going to be an issue again on another day. And there's emotion that goes along with that, because it's exhausting to feel the giant weight of change on your shoulders! But it's not like there's an abundance of people that will fight the fight when any of us decide not to. And it's not like we're asking for anything crazy, just the things others are given without having to ask.

Of course challenges make us strong. I think in this little community gathering on Dave's blog, we regularly celebrate how disability has made us better people. But that doesn't in any way legitimize the existence of the barriers and challenges! We don't thank the inconsiderate for providing us with an opportunity for personal growth. We just don't...

Anonymous said...

I most certainly didn't choose my words wisely earlier today. First of all, I didn't intentionally use the term "tend to walk away". I meant no cruelty, of course, saddened that someone took it that way. Second, I'm not walking away from this blog. I understand why it is here and the purpose. I don't come here to be uplifted, when that happens it is a bonus, but not a requirement for my devotion to this blog. I've also referred to it as a gift many times. I love the way it challenges myself and those who drop by here. "Happy Cripple Face" was a horrible thing for you to say/imply. Congratulations, you made my pride in her a bad thing. You haven't any right to make a comment such as that. I'd be just as proud of her if she never attempted to overcome an obstacle again. By the way, I didn't choose to use "anonymous" for any other reason than I need to when I use a computer other than my own. A few months back, Dave mentioned being disheartened by dwindling comments to some of his posts. I wonder if people hold back, so they don't come under fire. I'll think twice before sharing.

Dave Hingsburger said...

To The Two Anons Above: I never really know what to do in situations like this here on the blog, or indeed in real life. Is my intervention wanted or needed? I don't know. I appreciate all comments, even those who disagree or who offer a different point of view. I've never been afraid of disagreement and I like collaboration because working with others challenges me to think larger. It's a good thing. Anon one's comment interested me because, even as I wrote the blog yesterday I was thinking that I'd written fairly negative blogs over the last few days - but then, that's what life had been handing me on my plate. A daily blog is difficult because you've committed to write something and if the something you've got turns a bit repetitive, well, it's that or nothing. So I didn't disagree with the comment. I DON'T like, if I'm being honest, implied threats (do it differently or I walk away) because I don't see how they serve a purpose. But with ANON two, I'd like that people converse before they say nasty stuff - I too winced at the 'happy cripple face' remark and thought it was needlessly cruel (from someone alleging cruelty in another) and didn't serve the purpose of the point. I've always been proud of the fact that the readers here tend to discuss more than they do YELL with each other. So ANON one, please feel free to continue to comment. ANON two, I also hope you continue to comment, you did have somethign important to say too. Anyways, as always, you all kept me interested ... on another note I found the fact that others noticed the snow drifts in other places oddly reassuring, it's not just me then that thinks this is a legitimate accessibility issue.

Andrea S. said...

Another blogger on lack of snow removal as an accessibility issue:

http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/11/06/lets-talk-about-the-weather/