We were having lunch an my friend Susan was telling us about visiting a brand new hotel. While there she noticed a thing or two about accessibility which made the place less safe for people with disabilities than for those without. Susan doesn't have a mobility disability but she said she'd learned about it from the conversations we've had over the years and from some of my rants on this blog.
I always like to hear that my writing has made an impact, that it brings people's attention to disability issues and concerns. That's kind of the point this blog and kind of the reason I began it all those years ago. So, of course it felt good. I was about to thank her for noticing, because noticing matters, but she wasn't finished.
She went on to say that even though she wasn't disabled and that the mobility issues that she wanted to raise wouldn't make a difference in her life, she knew that they would in others. Great. I like that.
Then: Why should disabled people have to carry the responsibility of bringing forward access issues? Those of us who are friends or family or even just aware, don't we have that responsibility too?
Then: I thought of you and wondered why it should be your job to speak up and be an activist when I have a voice and I have awareness. I realized I could speak up and maybe the end result would be that you wouldn't have to.
Then she told us about making the complaint and wondering after, like we all do in situations like these, if it made a difference.
And who knows?
Will her complaint matter?
Will access be thought about differently by the hotel and will action take place?
Again, who knows?
But does the complaint matter? Of course it does, every voice matters, every act of confrontation in any form matters. It matters because it means that, if the hotel employees didn't notice the issue before, they will now every time they come to work. Ultimately, in the long term that may make physical change in the hotel necessary. If only just to still the nagging, daily, realization of prejudice in concrete.
But it matters in a different way.
It matters to me.
It matters to feel that I have an ally.
And she has always been an ally, I know she gets it.
But now, I have an ally, with a voice.
And good heavens that feels good.