"I've never noticed but I imagine it's pretty good," she said, smiling and friendly. She was answering a question I'd asked about accessible seating in other of the live theatre venues that are owned by the same company. She had just explained, as we were chatting, that she is being trained to work in some of the bigger houses and she was enjoying the process. I'd asked her if she'd been to a couple of the big theatres downtown, she said that she had. My follow up question was, "What is the wheelchair seating like in those theatres?"
"I imagine it's pretty good."
"Really?" I said, "Like the very back row and off to the side like in this theatre? That's not 'pretty good' it's a barely adequate after thought." She looked quite offended by what I said and I wasn't really wanting an argument, so I said, "I don't mean to be at all combative or aggressive but wheelchair seating isn't often 'pretty good'. She asked me what I meant and we explained some of the theatres in town and some of the ways that accessible seating in provided, like driving a power chair up onto a little plywood stand placed at the end of a row, right near the wall.
But I don't want to write about the wheelchair seating, I'd like to consider that she said ... "I imagine ..."
In her mind accessibility is pictured as being there and being more than just adequate. I wonder if that's how non-disabled people picture the world they live in. It's funny isn't it that people say that "When I had my leg broken and was in a wheelchair for a few weeks, I realized how inaccessible the world is. I never imagined that it was so difficult."
My guess is then that most non-disabled people, like the theatre usher, imagine that things are just fine. I imagine that they are comfortable with how the world is structured because they can't imagine it not being fine. I also noted that she got a little offended when I challenged her world view that everything was peachy keen for people with disabilities. Even though we were in a theatre where the absolutely worst seats in the house are the disabled seats. That's not 'pretty good' ... it's less than adequate. I know this to be true because they are also the cheapest seats in the house. The seating with the least value is reserved for customers with the ... well you get the point.
I wonder if the reason I meet so much anger when I bring up accessibility is because I'm upsetting a world view that everything is 'pretty good' for disabled people. To draw attention to inequity is to point out, without mentioning it, their quiet acceptance of things the way they are.
She imagined that the seats are 'pretty good.'
I'd like my imagination to have the same optimistic outlook.