Monday, October 30, 2017

today's post

I can't write a blog today because I have to write a letter. Another letter about lack of access, about prejudicial decisions made regarding access and about the need for an immediate, and easy fix. I write so many of these letters. Pretty much every time I write on this blog, or tell someone about, an access issue, the suggestion is to write a letter or to make a formal complaint. The advice is good. I know that. But after 12 or 13 years in a wheelchair, I'm tired of letters and complaints and confrontations.

I'm whining now.

I know.

But there is both a physical and emotional cost to the process of these letters. The physical act of writing the letter, working to outline clearly the issue as experienced takes time and energy. Then there is the emotional whammy when the letter is answered with a, choose one:

- I'm sorry you feel that way.

-You need to understand that ...

- It's an old building and therefore ...

- We will consider your concerns at some point in the future.

- We welcome your feedback thank you for contacting us.

All of which means that the letter landed into the hollow spot in a business or corporations heart where compassion and fairness and justice have been removed in favour of greed and discrimination and indifference.

So no blog today.

I've got to write a letter, this one is one in which I've already been told that a public building cannot provide accessibility because they are very busy ... that's what they said ... so I'm not going to be writing the government ministers that oversee transportation and disability, along with a copy to the Prime Minister.

So, apologies, see you tomorrow.


Jenni said...

The emotional labour of being a disabled person trying to live a normal life is sometimes more exhausting than the chronic medical condition which led to me being disabled in the first place. Good luck with the letter, and with the recovery after writing it.

Unknown said...

Your blog is your space. Whining is a form of human expression. It takes a certain kind of courage to keep on speaking, keep on writing, keep on living out loud in a world that tries very hard NOT to make a space for you. you are a brave man, Dave.

ABEhrhardt said...

The volume of letters that must be written is overwhelming, as most people don't write, so the powers-that-be assume (if they even think about it) that their pitiful efforts are enough, or that no one wants access.

And when someone THEY love becomes disabled, it's too late: they (if they participate directly in the care) are overwhelmed, 'their' disabled or ill person is overwhelmed, and they find no one listens to them because they are now considered 'biased.'

We can't win.

My contribution is fiction - and it takes more energy than I have right now to both write and MARKET, so the marketing is at a standstill because it takes everything I have to do the writing.

I promise to do whatever I see needs doing. I can think of two letters I need to write.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I have occasionally written those letters (these days, more commonly in the form of email or feedback via Facebook or other digital forms of communication). Not nearly as often as Dave, but some. And I know exactly what you mean by the emotional labor of needing to write these letters. I have met with some successes over the years--the occasional online video that suddenly got captioned within a single day because of my one email! But I've also received many of the non-response responses that David describes, where the business tries to evade responsibility for taking any action to fix anything. Or the complete lack of response of any kind, even a "non-response" response. And I know I should try to focus on the few successes I have had and try to retain optimism that maybe the next response will be one of those successes. But sometimes I become so overwhelmed at the many people who don't care that their videos are excluding deaf people (and frequently blind people as well, if there is no audio description for a video that needs it) and don't see why they should be bothered to fix it that I get tired before I have even begun to write the letter. And then, just the sheer scale of HOW MANY TIMES I confront accessibility barriers itself can get so overwhelming it can feel hard to start letters for even just a handful of them.

I mean. Right in my living room at home sits many DVDs and blue rays. Anything bought after my wife and I started living together, of course, has captions for the main feature. (Things without captions are older things my hearing wife bought before we were living together.) But only some of them have captions for any of the special features, such as interviews or commentaries from the actors or producers etc. And where some special features on a particular DVD might have captions, others on the same DVD might not. So if I want to find accessibility barriers I could be writing letters about, I have easily dozens of them sitting there in my living room. I could do it -- but for older content I would have to research whether newer versions still have similar accessibility barriers, and even sticking to the newer DVDs and blue rays could still represent hours of double checking their accessibility, figuring out who to contact and how to reach them, writing the letter, being prepared to send a follow up letter a few weeks later, etc. -- all this could be hours of labor.

You, Dave, write many more letters than I do, but I imagine even for you there must still be many stores and other public places you simply pass by without ever writing a letter because you simply don't go there because you can't.

And, Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt, you understand the problem perfectly. Sometimes when I do finally write a letter, I get responses saying precisely that -- that there must not really be a problem because no one else has ever complained about the issue. So, yes, some of them DO think exactly that.

Flemisa said...

Thank goodness for all who write. No matter how hard it is I hope you continue to do so. Change comes from the individual voices.

Shannon said...

Hope this letter gets a better response than usual. There's been a series of essays and articles by people with disabilities in the New York Times recently. Comments section from some of these shows that certain attitudes towards disabled people are alive and well. A few who still think we don't belong on the buses holding up the schedule for everyone else, people who think we expect too much, comments along the lines about the expense of access for the "2% of the population in wheelchairs" or the "few people" who are blind or deaf, people who believe there are lot of disability fakers, advocates of euthanasia. Of course there are many supportive comments as well.