"I'm bored talking about this, can we talk about something else?" Sadie is only half joking as she's listening to Joe and I talk about how difficult it had been for me to get an egg salad sandwich because of some physical barriers that made it impossible for me to hear the sandwich maker and for her to hear me. Sadie slumped back into her chair and then asked for the topic to be changed.
I get it.
I understand why she wanted the conversation to change. We go out a lot with her and her sister and this is a conversation she has heard over and over and over again. She's 9 years old, an expert on access and accessibility, and she simply doesn't want to hear another conversation about another barrier encountered.
In her opinion access is simple.
International Day of Disabled Persons is today. It's not on the news. There were no stories connected with the day. I've seen, outside my own organization, no advertising about anything happening in the city around me. There may be. But it happening in whispers.
Sadie thinks they should just make things that work for everyone.
Sadie thinks that conversations about inaccessibility should be obsolete.
Sadie thinks that we should be able to talk about what we are doing, not the struggles involved.
At Vita, where I work, we will be having an open mike where people with disabilities can come and say what they please about whatever they want. No non-disabled speakers will participate from the podium.
Here's our measure about an event like this:
1) Did disabled people plan it?
2) Did disabled people set the rules?
3) Are all disabled people welcome?
4) Are non-disabled people welcome but made realize it's not their day?
I'd like to go out with the kids and not have that conversation ever again. Not because we are avoiding the topic but because the topic doesn't come up.
International Day of Disabled Persons:
It's really, really, simple.
"Sadie thinks they should just make things that work for everyone."
I like that idea. Question is: who is "they" and how do you define "should?" I know there are laws about accessibility (somewhat tempered by affordability) and access. I know there are advocacy groups that work to increase those things for folks with disability. However - I wonder what actually has to take place to ensure a true sea change?
Could a person lobby with design and architecture schools to have a say in curriculum and consideration for accessibility? Could accessibility and WELCOME be a part of orientation for new employees at restaurants / hotels / airports - etc? Could this idea become a product (video / web based instruction) made for purchase for folks in those said industries?
Training and sea change are entirely different things - but when a training is well-done, it has a ripple effect in a person's approach to their work / craft. I have picked up things in "one off" training that I've carried with me throughout my career.
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