Sunday, December 18, 2016


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.


Unknown said...

I agree Dave. I spoke to a woman a few months ago at a Bulk Barn and said "if I was in a wheelchair I couldn't get around this place". I said the same thing at a building at U of T. I am not sure if I pick up on it as often as I should but when I do it throws me right back to trying to write exams in a room full of right handed seats. I am left handed and proud of it. Oh the assumptions we make in this world about people's abilities and how boring it would be if they were true.

Belinda said...

Susan is a great friend and ally. Wonderful post--and it happens to cone on her birthday!

Frank_V said...

NO ONE is immune to the randomness of life. If a person lives long enough, odds are sickness or bad luck (accidents do happen) or just age itself, imposes some sort of limitation on you. You can pitch in to create a more accessible world for everyone, or, you can bury your head in the sand until you hit your personal roadblock. But by then, it's too late, you are stuck.

My plea to people who are not disabled? We fight for a more inclusive future for ALL ABILITIES. Why not pitch in now, while it is easier on you, and you are not exhausted just trying to get around in a less than accessible world?

Unknown said...

It does matter that we ALL speak up when someone is treated unfairly or barriers are present...
it's takes a lot of voices sometimes, to create the awareness of the need for a change...and that is only the first step to creating the change.

Unknown said...

I believe that, no matter what our own circumstance is, we have a responsibility as people to seek equal/ fair treatment and access for ALL people. It shouldn't be just if it impacts us on a personal level...