Right now I am typing on my laptop, which is resting on my briefcase, which is resting on two large books, which are resting on the bed. The room is small and spartan, clean, daringly white walls. The television sits on the desk such that to use the computer there would make it inaccessible to Joe. He'd have to sit staring at the blazingly white walls. So, here I am with laptop on top of a pile of things. And it works well. I am here typing this blog and Joe is there sitting on a hardback wooden chair watching a documentary on the Second World War.
It didn't take much organizing to do this. What it took was noticing. Noticing that while I typed on the desk in front of the television, Joe was left with little to do but watch me type. Noticing that I was using 'our' space for 'my' space had me noticing the unfairness of that assumption. So, a few minutes later, we are both using the space, both doing what we want, both happy here together.
Yes it took work.
But what it really took was noticing.
I think that's why many of us as people with disabilities sometimes feel 'hurt' rather than 'angry' or 'annoyed' or 'frustrated' at inaccessibility. I mean like didn't anyone NOTICE that this space is utilized by only one group of people, that the others are left to watch but not participate, look in but not come in, understand but not be understood. It takes NOTICING, noticing privilege and doing something about it. It takes NOTICING that what you expect as a given, isn't given to all. It takes NOTICING that the status quo for many is no status at all.
Some things I've noticed in the past few days:
A wheelchair accessible ATM at the top of a set of stairs.
A restaurant with no accessible entrance with a big accessible washroom.
An agency with a policy on inclusion and a statement about respect having another policy that denies sex education and sexual relationships to the adults in their service.
I guess all social change begins with someone noticing, someone paying attention to that which could be rather than that which simply is. And it's all so easy, really. In our room we just piled thing, upon thing, upon thing. Then, everyone gets something, no one gets nothing. And you know what I noticed. That Joe noticed that I noticed. That it made it clear that though I have fought for access for myself and others with disabilities, I have to remember that my space is shared space too, that 'special needs' doesn't mean 'more important needs' - that we both need things, that we both need to consider each other.
So here I am typing on a stack of stuff. And you know what Joe got out of it?
A reminder that I care about him.
You know what I got out of it?
Well, this blog for one.