On Really Getting What An Audit Is About

If you speak about RAMP’s (or anyone’s really) accessibility audit as simply a collection of boxes to tick off, and one which people and groups can simply use to “prove” they are “accessible” but then actually do little else, you do highlight a reality of living in an ableist society (where every tactic has its limitations, and every tool can be manipulated). And you also (i’m sure unintentionally) in some ways denigrate the process it entails, the work done by (in the case of RAMP) disabled folks, and most importantly you misunderstand the point.
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The audit is not simply some dry, manipulate-able document for proving an individual or group’s commitment to accessibility; and it is not even simply about accessibility (whether someone takes a limited or expansive view of access). Try to remember that it’s a work in progress, it isn’t the only thing out there, and that RAMP welcomes feedback and input to make it even better and to keep it relevant.
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Used to its full potential, i like to think of it as a whole process whereby individuals and groups begin (or continue) to look at the many ways their space/ event/ organizing group/ etc can shift its priorities, its philosophies, its understandings, and yes its walls, sometimes razing the entirety to the ground, to create and re-create not only a more welcoming space for multiply disabled folks, but to change, shift, demolish notions of worth, of solidarity, of resistance, of community altogether.
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And it is something tangible that people can take away, whether variously disabled or not, and talk about within their own communities, can ask questions, can critique, can add ideas and specific experiences, can pick it apart, can adapt it to suit, can challenge the ableist notions that surround it.
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And it is one tool those of us with decreased access (for a variety of reasons) can use to determine where and how we share our energy, talent, presence, brilliance and resistance.
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And while it isn’t everything, doesn’t do everything, doesn’t encompass everything and isn’t without its limitations, it does add something, it does create dialogue and tangible change. i’ve seen it, experienced it first hand. 
And in a society that is pretty consistently telling variously disabled folks that our presence doesn’t have an impact, that our lives are not worth making and sharing space with, that does mean something.
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Justice For Cindy Gladue, Vancouver Coast Salish Territories

Please join RAMP and other groups and individuals at 800 Hornby this Thursday April 2nd at 10:30 a.m. as we honour Cindy Gladue’s life and to demand justice for her and specifically call for a re-trial. See below for ways to take part if you’re not able to attend.

From the event facebook page:

All across these lands, in almost twenty cities and communities, there will be rallies on Thursday April 2 to honour Cindy Gladue’s life and to demand justice for her with a specific call for a re-trial (please see below).

Cindy Gladue was a 36-year old Indigenous mother of two who was murdered by Bradley Barton in an Edmonton motel room four years ago. Last week, an almost all-white and all-male jury decided to acquit her killer, a white Ontario man, because they believed that Cindy had consented to the violence that caused her to bleed to death. Her killing and the verdict both represent a larger ongoing pattern of colonial gendered violence.

Earlier this month, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) concluded that Canada, “has failed to ensure that Aboriginal women are protected against discrimination committed by public institutions.”

And in December of 2014 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stated, “disappearances and murders of indigenous women in Canada are part of a broader pattern of violence and discrimination against indigenous women in Canada.”

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is visiting BC this month and the previous UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Anaya stated that “indigenous women and girls remain vulnerable to abuse” due to complex and intersecting historical and present issues stemming from the impacts of colonialism. Dr. Anaya noted the disproportionately high rate that Indigenous women and girls are victims of violent crime, and that “since 1996, there have been at least 29 official inquiries and reports dealing with aspects of this issue, which have made over 500 recommendations for action.”

We demand justice for Cindy Gladue and all missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Thank you for joining us,
Feb 14th Women’s Memorial March Committee.

* IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO JOIN *

If you are unable to join us, but want to show your support, you can sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/honourable-jonathan-denis-qc-mla-minister-of-justice-and-solicitor-general-initiate-an-appeal-of-justice-for-cindy-gladue

We also call on you to join in the push for a retrial. Crown Prosecutor Carole Godfrey has only one month to initiate an appeal for a retrial.

Respectfully request that the prosecutor initiate an appeal to retry Bradley Barton for the original charges of second-degree murder.

Crown Prosecutor Carole Godfrey
6th Floor, J.E. Brownlee Building
10365 – 97th Street
Edmonton, AB T5J 3W7
Telephone: 780-422-1111
Fax: 780-422-9756
E-mail: edmontonprosecutions@gov.ab.ca

Write to Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis, who would have to approve the call for an appeal:

Honourable Jonathan Denis QC MLA
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
3rd floor, Bowker Building, 9833 – 109 Street.
Edmonton, Alberta, T5K 2E8
Phone: 780-427-2339
Fax: 780-422-6621
Email: ministryofjustice@gov.ab.ca

(Write and call-in information via Naomi Sayers and Sarah Hunt, image credit Angela Sterritt)

* ADDITIONAL EVENTS

https://www.facebook.com/events/659410977496946/ – JUSTICE FOR CINDY GLADUE ~ ALGONQUIN TERRITORY

https://www.facebook.com/events/419958091508690/ – Edmonton

https://www.facebook.com/events/1501176266769571/ – Justice and Vigil for Cindy Gladue Calgary/Treaty 7/Blackfoot Confederacy

https://www.facebook.com/events/1606587266225135/ – Victoria, on Lkwungen territories

https://www.facebook.com/events/1411748372467390/ – Saskatoon

https://www.facebook.com/events/1578080472462451/ – Justice For Cindy Gladue-Regina

https://www.facebook.com/events/516826465122931/ – Justice for Cindy Gladue — St. John’s, NL

https://www.facebook.com/events/682805831848855/ – Justice for Cindy Gladue ~ Kenora/Treaty 3

https://www.facebook.com/events/614292468672452/ – Justice and Vigil for Cindy Gladue Treaty 1 Solidarity Action Winnipeg

https://www.facebook.com/events/1592063801041473/ – No Justice No Peace – Honouring Cindy Gladue – Toronto

https://www.facebook.com/events/357892087750793/ – Justice for Cindy Gladue, an event in Nogojiwanong (Peterborough)

https://www.facebook.com/events/897332023620446/ – Lac La Biche, Alberta

https://www.facebook.com/events/934387869934355/ – Treaty 7 Blackfoot Territory, Lethbridge, Alberta

https://www.facebook.com/events/692227500888667/ – Justice for Cindy Gladue–Saskatoon Art-In

https://www.facebook.com/events/716924471749736/ – JUSTICE FOR CINDY GLADUE ST.PAUL AND AREA

Transportation, Not Deportation (and harassment, targeting, assault, murder, etc)!

UPDATE FEBRUARY 21, 2015: 

https://transportationnotdeportation.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/transportation-not-deportation-campaign-forces-transit-police-to-terminate-agreement-with-canada-border-services-agency/

TRANSPORTATION NOT DEPORTATION CAMPAIGN FORCES TRANSIT POLICE TO TERMINATE AGREEMENT WITH CANADA BORDER SERVICES AGENCY

Friday February 20, Vancouver

“This afternoon, Transit Police informed representatives of the Transportation not Deportation campaign that they will terminate their Memorandum of Understanding with CBSA, that officers must receive permission from a Watch Commander to initiate contact with CBSA, and that they will not detain people without warrants for items that are simply contravention of immigration law,” confirms Omar Chu of Transportation not Deportation.

Since 2007, Transit Police and the Pacific Region Enforcement Center of CBSA have had a Memorandum of Understanding. Transit Police reported three hundred and twenty eight people to Canada Border Services Agency in 2013, one in five of whom faced a subsequent immigration investigation including deportation. Only 1.5% of all those referred to CBSA even had immigration warrants out. From November 2012 to January 2013, Transit police made had more referrals to CBSA than any other BC police force including the VPD and RCMP.

One of these people was Mexican migrant and hotel worker Lucia Vega Jiménez, who later committed suicide while in CBSA custody. At the coroner’s inquest into her death, a Transit Police officer testified that he turned Lucia over to Canada Border Services Agency, in part, because Lucia had an accent and that he believed “she wasn’t originally from Canada.”

“Public transit is not be a border checkpoint. This MOU should never have been in place but now as a direct result of grassroots community mobilizing including forty organizations and over 1500 people demanding an end to Transit Police and CBSA collaboration, Transit police will not be enforcing federal immigration policy,” says Harsha Walia of Transportation not Deportation.

The Transportation not Deportation! campaign will continue with our intention to flood the Transit Police board meeting on Friday, February 27th to ensure implementation of this policy that keeps public transportation free from immigration policy enforcement.”

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ORIGINAL POST:
Please read, and sign on if you agree, and/or share this. The Radical Access Mapping Project totally supports the 5 demands noted below. Public transit should not be a border checkpoint, and should not come with the risk of harassment, arrest, or worse. Disability justice includes access to public transit free from racist targeting; public transit MUST be accessible for ALL.

https://www.change.org/p/translink-and-transit-police-stop-turning-public-transit-into-a-border-checkpoint

“25 groups have signed onto Transportation not Deportation campaign. Check it and have your group endorse too if you agree with the five demands.

Not part of a group, no worries, sign and circulate this petition and help us get to 2,000 signatures that we can hammer away at the next Translink board meeting.

“We believe our public transit system should not be a border checkpoint. Translink and Transit Police should not ask for or retain immigration status information, and should they learn of someone’s immigration status they should not share that information with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).”


DEMANDS:
1) End racial profiling of people on our public transit system and ensure access without fear of criminalization or deportation to all residents.2) Terminate the Memorandum of Understanding between Transit Police and CBSA.

3) Stop turning people over to CBSA and stop enforcing federal immigration law, particularly given that most Transit Police referrals to CBSA are for situations where no warrant even exists.

4) Ensure that a range of identification is accepted as sufficient to verify identity when needed.

5) Remove CBSA phone numbers as well as all immigration-related databases from Translink and Transit Police databases.

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[Re Image Descriptions. 2 different images may come up when accessing the post.

1) a play on a vancouver area bus ticket, a white background with salmon coloured patches, and black text which reads:

“Trans Link
Referrals to CBSA, 2013: 328
(in a coloured arrow) 1 in 5 resulted in an immigration investigation”

2) A comic style drawing of a gun pointing at a line of people of different colours standing inside a stylized bus; the folks of colour have their hands in the air a la “surrender”, while the white peoples’ hands are down. There is a Trans Link logo to the side. The text reads: “FAIR CHECK?”

gratitude

Not all the time, but sometimes i find it really hard to feel hot (as in foxy, sexy, DAMN! y’know, however you describe such a thing, if you do) as someone living with chronic pain and other ongoing, lifelong health stuff that’s permanent, disabling, inconvenient, sometimes embarrassing, that’s still considered shameful or sad or “a waste” by lots of folks.
i’ve had a lot of years of practice at it –and i’m not a self-hating gimp (but really, what is “self-hatred” when you’re living in a society that more often than not would prefer you die off?), i’ve got access to different communities and to many friends and loves who experience some similar and some dissimilar things around those feelings; i’m not alone in it– and yet it’s still not easy, it doesn’t just come. And there’s pressure –even and sometimes especially within disability communities– to spin some sort of golden sexy shit out of it all the fucking time. Sometimes that’s just fine for me, and i do that too. But when that’s not possible, it so often feels like a personal failing, something just inherently not good enough about me and this body [and there are multiple sources all around perfectly happy to reinforce that message].

It’s actually really hard to be constantly fighting those fucked up messages, from inside me, inside communities, and from the general public, and to continue to practice some sort of self-love even when those fucked up messages get inside.

And there’s this too:

i’m grateful for every gimp i’ve ever known, whether or not you feel hot, or desirable, or wanted every moment; whether or not you live up to the expectations we so often put on one another; whether or not someone has ever met you and been fortunate to feel the pull of wanting to know more of your brilliance. You and i are a blanket of stars, covering, warming, hiding, holding secrets and joy and heat for days and days on fucking end…

and sometimes when i cover myself, even just my toes, with you, with us, i feel that burn.

we breathe resistance

i don’t need you to be “healed” to help me.

i think it’s a misunderstanding(?) or too simplistic(?) to always just say that if you’re broken/ tired/ sick/ drained/ etc that you can’t care for others. i do understand the intention is about encouraging folks to take care of ourselves, to replenish, to build resistance and resilience inside ourselves (with what?) so that we can also bring that wherever we go. i understand “put your oxygen mask on and THEN help others“.

But that’s not all it is. That’s not all there can be. i know this, because i know that i and other variously sick and disabled and hurting folks help others all the time, support others, care for others, at times yes prioritize others, etc, and still we go on. i know this.

i also know that so much of “you can’t help others if you are hurting etc” is informed however unintentionally by various kinds of ableism, as well as by a certain amount of… well… ability to have the time and space to separate these things out somehow in the first place; or even just being able to separate it out at all. i know this.

Sick and disabled and hurting people are parents, healers, teachers, caregivers, artists, volunteers, mechanics, factory workers, sex workers, can collectors, we’re friends to drink coffee with and talk about love with and shed tears with and do jigsaw puzzles with and make food with and sit in grass with and and and… and we are already doing this work, this expanding of, this expression of, this sharing of what we are capable of, and some things we are frankly not capable of… AND we are still sick and disabled and hurting. i AM ALWAYS disabled. i will ALWAYS BE disabled. It doesn’t go away on a retreat, it doesn’t lessen with self-care, and it doesn’t mean that i can’t properly love and support you or make decisions about what that can look like for me. i will always be disabled, and will grow increasingly more disabled as the years go on. That takes a toll on me, it requires that i do an increasing and adaptable amount of “self care” –> “self care” which requires an increasing and adaptable amount of energy –> energy i have less and less of. That reality does not mean that there is now or will ever be a time, a cutoff, when i will stop loving and supporting you. This is the reality.

And so is this:
i don’t need you to be healed to love and support me.
i don’t need my oxygen mask to love and support you.
We breathe life into one another.
We breathe love into one another.
We breathe resistance into one another.
This is one of the things disability community has taught me.
That is self-care.

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what’s terror* anyways?

So here’s the thing about this All** Bodies Dance Project i’ve been going to. While there are some things about it i don’t connect with and/or that don’t reflect me. i pushed past that and went. And to be honest, i’m mortified to be there, to be moving around a room with these strangers, to be waving around, moving my body these ways, even to call it dancing. It’s public, it’s open, there are floor-to-ceiling windows in the room through which passersby can -if they choose- watch for a moment or the entire time as they make their way to other activities in the rec centre. It’s embarrassing and exposing, and physically daunting (even within the context of uncommonly broad understandings of “movement”, where one person’s full body twirly thing can be another person’s finger bend, and is just as beautiful and celebrated and understood).

And i fucking love it and can’t wait for the next class.

i’m not a dancer, in any context, and i’ve never moved my body (this incarnation of this body, which is currently composed of: my flesh body, this scooter, and my crutches, this ADHD PTSD CAPD brain, this chem sensitive body, this white immigrant body, this fat body, this trans body, this queer body, this survivor body) the way i have in these classes. And i’ve sure as hell never moved these ways with others. i’ve navigated this incarnation/incantation, this gimp/imp, through tear-gassed cop-overrun demonstrations, busy downtown streets filled with suits and cars and a hundred freaked out pigeons, through raucous stuffed-past-the-walls concerts, malls of ambling unpredictable shoppers, dungeons with whips and sweat flying, moving buses, darkened slippery sticky bath houses, trains, broken up sidewalks, pools, gimp porn shoot, beaches, walls of linked arms/ legs/ wheelchairs/ canes/ etc at protests, grassy fields, you name it, i’ve rolled it (including some mishaps, to be sure, including throwing myself off a curb into a busy street then running over my own foot). While that all likely prepared me to be able to navigate this purely in the technical sense, it didn’t prepare me for navigating with these people. My people. [A wave of overwhelm writing those last words. Some of that overwhelm comes from the fact that some of these people are not disabled, and it takes so much to trust people who are not disabled with my body. Yes, particularly able bodied people, but really, ALL people who are not variously disabled. And the thought of, the act of, considering these people among “my people” is striking to me.]

i’ve done a lot with my body, and have struggled with and loved my body for a very very long time, including getting used to each change in its functioning while trying to keep up with other’s responses to it. i’ve struggled (and still do) with feelings of shame, embarrassment, anxiety, fear, grief, of feeling utterly un-attractive and unlovable as this body. And i’ve worked hard to show [and not-show] parts of that because holy fuck there is enough, there is just so already enough of that, and because i’m sick of the way able bodied people so often look at me with those cartoon welling up pity eyes, grief eyes, embarrassed eyes, disgusted eyes; when i want to be looked at with joy eyes, and lust eyes..]

Weaving in and out among other folks on wheels, and/or with canes, and/or who do/don’t use other supports, and/or who can and can’t hear and/or process and/or see and judge distances in different ways etc; some people who are able bodied, who can leap and dive and see and hear everything and spin, who are not looking at me with those fucking pity eyes, we all moving in ways that feel weird and scary and comforting and awkward, and unlike anything else i’ve navigated.

i passed by someone during one exercise where we were moving through the space only in curved lines. We were forming and moving our whole bodies/ individual limbs/ fingers/ devices/ etc variously in curves, and doing it in such utterly individual and yet thoroughly connected ways. As we passed one another, her version of curve met and briefly -just a couple seconds- played with my version of curve, and then we moved on. i thought i’d burst into tears.

i think the thing about living in a sometimes terrifying body for so long is that… i don’t know… maybe the terrifying becomes… passe, day to day, status quo, usual, familiar. So familiar that i can’t imagine it any other way (and why should i / would i?), can’t remember most of what it used to be (which is sometimes a blessing actually). So familiar that the terrifying is still terrifying (and still embarrassing, still nerve wracking, etc), but it stops freezing me in my tracks. Maybe it’s about getting older too, i don’t know, the combinations. Of being cut open, of being broken, of surviving. But whatever it is, i do know that this seems to be a time in my life of trying terrifying new things.

i’m not suggesting this broken body is a “gift” or some other cliche bullshit (another post on that for another day), but isn’t that an interesting thing right there? Without this broken body, without this reality, this terror, what experiences would i not have had? What emotional tundra might i never have felt poke at and soothe and cool and burn and tickle my bare toes? Without this body, would i have ever imagined in my wildest that what looked like simply passing by someone and sharing our curve for a couple seconds could cause me to feel and connect with something so deeply that i nearly burst into tears in a room filled with strangers? i don’t know about you, but i’d rather be terrified and enjoying the wonder of that than just sitting with the festering wondering of “what if?”

If it took this broken body to get me here, all i can do is reach my hands up, groping the furthest i can muster, whether in a curve or angled, whether with others or moving through a space by myself, and thank every. single. fucking. star. that ever was or will be for this, for me, my broken.

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[*“terror” is a loaded word, i know. i don’t use it lightly; and when using it, i think about the huge range of possibilities of terror, and beyond, lifelong, inflicted. How it’s attached to certain bodies like a series of stick pins, and how it is thrown around like flotsam by others. i don’t use it lightly, i use it to express the emotions i feel when it comes to my body and being in the world with it.]
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** After some refreshing conversation about it, i’m changing this from “All [sic]” to “All**” because the former seems unnecessarily snarky/judgey in this context, makes a definitive statement that something bad has happened, some mistake has been made, and kinda closes off conversation about it.  i’m not going for that here, even though every space/ event can use some more examination into who that “All” encompasses.

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Learn more about the All Bodies Dance Project here: Continue reading

(accessibility feature) + (defensiveness) = inaccessible

i know immediately if something will be actually, meaningfully, tangibly accessible to me the moment organizers get super defensive about simply being asked for accessibility info.

e.g. ramps + defensiveness about it = inaccessible

e.g. screencaps + defensiveness about it = inaccessible

e.g. scent-reduced + defensiveness about it = inaccessible

e.g. pay-what-you-can + defensiveness about it = inaccessible

and so on.

Again, accessibility has little meaning if everything about the event, about the space, about the organizing/ers screams “INACCESSIBLE!!!!”

That predictable pattern does suck, but the one pretty neat thing is that if you start by not getting defensive, all kinds of cool shit can happen.