Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Dave Does Disability Studies

I was told in a conversation, yesterday, that I was having with someone about discrimination and lack of access for people with disabilities, that I needed to be more understanding and tolerant. To be fair, I didn't just launch into this, he had heard that I had raised a complaint regarding a business that he had a sideways connection with. I was a bit surprised because I wasn't aware that my complaint had been actually heard by anyone, let alone made it to gossip status. Here's the top three things he told me:

1) I had to understand that there is no such thing as intentional prejudice against people with disabilities.

2) Sometimes people don't think before they speak but there is no maliciousness in people's language or attitude towards people with disabilities.

3) People with disabilities have become far too sensitive and have lost an understanding about what's actually possible in regards to access.

I looked at him, dumbfounded, and before I could respond, he had to return to his seat. We had met just before a show was about to start. I know he didn't do it on purpose but it was like he figured the exact amount of time he had to fill me in on the errors of my ways and finish up just when it was impossible for me to rebut.

We've met him before. He didn't then know of my complaint. I didn't know of his connection to the business. He'd always been very nice and easy to chat with. Both Joe and I liked him and enjoyed seeing him at the odd event that we all attended.

In the end, I think I might be grateful to him, I think he may have, in a few minutes, outlined how most people think about disability issues. Prejudice doesn't exist. There are no attitudinal barriers. The physical barriers - well, they are unfortunate but you can't expect them to be changed.

I'm so glad I have occasion to run into typicals who can give me brief courses in Disability Studies. I can learn so much if I listen. And I did listen. And I did learn. But, I'm afraid, he'd be shocked to know what knowledge he passed on to me.


Just Heidi said...

Ignorance is bliss? oi!

Glee said...

yep I know Dave. Their omnipotent arrogant, I am an ableoid so I know better than you "knowledge" just makes me fall about laughing these days.

No, really, it horrifies me but I know they ain't gonna change any decade soon so I just have to laugh so I don't go mad. BAHAHAHAHA!!!

I had an male ableoid architect argue with me when I said that no "accessible" public toilet is ever built properly to the legal Standard. He maintained, til I gave up, that they are all perfectly built. I asked him if he used such toilets. "well no but I know they are all done right". Such an arrogant prick. No wonder the loos are not right. Arrogance on the basis of "I'm able bodied" is just hideous and is a terrible impairment. Sigh. Hug :)

Moose said...

Years ago I worked for a university that finally decided they needed someone in charge of disability needs. Their thought, at the time, was about the students who had learning disabilities and their needs, so they hired some able person who could deal with all of that. While that is very important, they of course didn't think this through.

Then a colleague of mine, who used a wheelchair, went to him to talk about the lack of physical accessibility on the campus. The guy brushed her off, saying there were no such problems, as he'd never heard any complaints.

She said, "Let's go for a walk around campus." And she showed him first hand where there were one or two steps that able people use without thinking, how in one building there was NO accessible way in, and how in another building you could not go from one end to the other end without going into one elevator, going down two floors, going down a back hall to a little used other elevator and taking that one up one floor (seriously!).

The current employee who handles disabilities for the university is physically disabled. Yet the uni has still built two buildings in the past decade that barely pass ADA reqs, with automatic door openers that are usually broken and "accessible" bathroom stalls that are too small for someone in a wheeled mobility device to use.

clairesmum said...

I knew folks could become medical experts on the Internet....didn't know there was a certification in disability studies available on the web as well......
Another example of a person who is often wrong but never in doubt, on this issue, anyway.
Take care, Dave.

wendy said...

Well, Dave, I just can't believe you have not already figured out that ablism/heterosexism/racism/sexism and all the isms and phobias are merely the product of overly sensitive people's over active imaginations. And this is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the people who are not impacted by them have never experienced them.

It's enough to make your head spin, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I wish I was surprised to read this. And I wish I hadn't had more than enough of these `discussions' before, myself. What would we do without such well educated people?

Mary said...

I think it's even worse when it comes from another disabled person. Usually one who has had so much praise from walkie-talkies for "not complaining" and similar, that they internalise it.

Anonymous said...

Does he grant advanced degrees? With that kind of knowledge, he really should!

wheeliecrone said...

Clearly, Dave, the Omniscient One you met is one of those charming Types who know everything they want to know. His brain is full. No room for new concepts or attitudes.
It never fails to amaze me how many people who do not have a disability believe that they know much more than I know about my disabilities and how they affect me.
And he took time out of his busy schedule to share his knowledge with you. How very kind.
I would have been so tempted to kneecap him with my wheelchair.

imfunnytoo said...

The lack of knowledge on the part of people who think they know everything is just astounding.