Thursday, November 03, 2016

Separate But Equal

I'd done with fiddling, for now.

No doubt I will go at it again tomorrow morning. I'm going to be giving a workshop at NADD here in Niagara Falls. I've been playing with the presentation while looking out my window which directly overlooks the falls. I'm trying to present first the idea of 'disability context' ... which simply means realizing that people with disabilities live in a vastly different social world, a world that must be considered in any analysis that considers behaviour or mental health. That social world can be completely invisible to the non-disabled and as a result, instead of understanding, professionals try to 'ablesplain' it away - or worse, lay false claim to it through false, and often very patronizing, equivalency.

I will probably be the only person in the room tomorrow with a visible disability. I find this part of my presentation to be troublesome. How do you make something that is deadly serious about the lived experience of disability not sound like whining or griping. Because, as you know, it's much more than that.

But I'm done with fiddling.

Trouble is, I've been thinking about it so much that all I can see is the differences in experiences that others will have at this conference than I will have.

I'm staying at a different hotel because of poor access issues I've encountered in the past from the hotel it's at. It may have changed, but would you take that chance? So I'm physically separated.

All around me people are walking about. We went out to go for a stroll and the sidewalks and curb cuts are impassible. We got a few feet and turned back. So I'm physically confined to my room.

The shop in the hotel I'm staying at is across a stretch of deep plush carpet. I made it over and had to turn around. I was too tired to shop.

It's a different kind of experience.

And that difference matters.


And here is where I'll stop for now, I have a lovely view.


Frank_V said...

It is the hardest thing we do: Advocating for ourselves, without coming across as a Whiny McWhiner. We can only present our stories. Pity we can't force empathy. There's a pill for almost every ailment these days, so why not an empathy pill?

We could hand it to a contractor, and then they would UNDERSTAND: "Wow, are you kidding? THIS is what you go through? Here, let's do SOMETHING to fix that for everyone!"

Seriously, I don't mean to hijack this post but, here in Quebeckistan, the GENIUSES built this shiny new hospital that has GROOVES in some of the cement walkways outside, that WHEELCHAIRS get stuck in. And that's just ONE bonehead example.

What makes it all even more difficult is, if we are less than positive, society often points at us and declares "Well, THERE's your problem!" as if being positive is a LEVITATION SPELL that will lift not only our spirits, but also our bodies.

GRRRRRR to ignorance! Hurray for EMPATHY PILLS!

Unknown said...

Your blog postings give some very powerful descriptions that show the social world that you inhabit with its' particular cruelties and injustices that are invisible to so many people....maybe just read one or two of them to show what you mean...and then give your usual presentation....your writing in this blog is very powerful......
the one at the pool in Florida,when you are claimed as "My Dave" is heartbreakingly clear.
thinking of you and Joe today..Clairesmum

ecodrew said...

How telling that the hotel hosting a talk about accessibility is itself, not accessible. I hope you mention that in your presentation. Otherwise, based on your writing on your blog - I'm sure you'll do a great job.

As an able-bodied guy who was only recently introduced into the world of disability a few years ago on the birth of our son, I quickly realized my ignorance towards the disability/accessibility. With some exceptions for true jerks, I think the general (able-bodied) public's apathy or unawareness towards disability is mainly due to ignorance, not malice. Kudos to you for working against this ignorance.

P.S. Is there somewhere on your website/blog where you post a calendar of your public appearances? I would love to attend one of your talks if you're ever in my area. If not, are there any videos posted?