"Worth"

i do accessibility audits. i’ve created an almost 300 point audit, based in my own personal experiences, those of my friends, other gimps, other websites, elders, deaf folks, fat folks, trans and genderqueer folks and many others. While it focuses on physical accesses of various kinds, it covers a wide variety of issues: physical, visual, aural, specific to weight, gender neutrality, financial, etc. A good chunk of it is my stuff, but plenty from other folks too; it’s my combination, my layout, and, well, me performing the audit. i put my name and contact info on it, provide recommendations based on what a group or organization has available to them, and i generally do it for free, but will accept donations or entrance to an event or what have you, free or trades, whatever works for us. Sometimes, well-meaning folks (usually with money) will tell me i should charge money for doing it. Not charge them mind you lol, but charge…someone. People have said to me “no one will value what you’re doing if you don’t charge them for it”. i hear this time and again in various circles, about this and other things, and i want to say something about it.

i perform audits because of the frustration i and my gimp friends experience time and again arriving at some event that was listed as being totes accessible, only to discover it was anything but; and the frustration of being told time and again by organizers “we don’t have the time, energy or money to do anything about it!”. So i got sick of it, particularly in so called activist, anti-oppression communities, and got tired of asking organizers to do it, so started doing it myself. While it’s taxing physically, i actually really love doing these audits. It’s challenging and interesting and passes knowledge along and gets something done.

i offer audits for free or by donation or trade because i believe that this stuff needs doing, i want to make it as accessible as possible, and i want people to learn how to do it on their own and to pass on the knowledge. i want more people empowered and equipped to address accessibility, and i want it now.

So why do some folks who’ve expressed wanting their events to be more accessible, that they’re committed to that, who’ve even printed such on their websites or pamphlets etc, who’ve never had an audit or anything similar done, say they want something but when it’s right in front of them, for free/donation/trade, they won’t take it? i think that there are times when this is directly related to the fact that i do it for free.

This is not about valuing what someone with experience and insight brings to a community. It’s about placing one idea of “worth”, above actually getting the work done (which is, in the end, what’s important…at least to those of us who are actually affected by it). That’s it: this gimp wants the work done because it can (often dramatically) impact my and my gimp friends and others’ ability to access something. It’s that simple. And when predominantly able bodied folks don’t even respond to an offer to change that (one which is free, and which someone else will do all the work on, which isn’t always the case), to me it totally belies a stated commitment to accessibility.

This is classism in action, and directly informs my experiences with ableism, and vice-versa.

Check this out:

i’m disabled and on disability benefits, so i have a pretty limited amount of money and am impacted by ableism every day, including limiting my opportunities for making bucks and social/community connections  


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i recognize some of what that means in both the micro and macro, so i want to be part of making changes happen around access in my communities more often and more financially accessible to more folks 
                    
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i offer to do something for free/donation/trade based on that experience and my personal politics  

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 some people (usually those with more money) don’t immediately perceive the value in something if it doesn’t have a $ amount on it that makes sense to them, based in their own incomes and experiences (an experience which is in a classist system just seen as the norm)  

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 free work is not valued, so the work doesn’t get done (because so often while the individuals within a group may have more bucks than me, the groups they’re part of who i’m offering to help out aren’t exactly rolling in it; and even though there’s almost always an attendant claim of “we don’t have time/money/energy to do it”)  

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i and other disabled folks continue to be impacted by the inaccessibility of events, lose out on community opportunities held in those spaces, and deal with more social isolation  

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disabled folks’ opinions and experiences, skills and such are not taken into consideration when groups make decisions about the space, the focus etc because we cant get in the door 

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disabled folks face more/ongoing misunderstanding and isolation  

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nothing changes in the community or beyond

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back to the top  —–>

Well i want this changed. That’s what it’s all about, no? And i don’t mean “let me audit something!” lol. This isn’t a “let me sell (haha) my personal audit to you!” situation. i just mean that when disabled folks come to you with ideas about this stuff, pay attention, because we are the goddamn experts on this. And if we are offering it for free/trade/donation? We are doing that FOR A REASON, not because the work is of no or lesser value.

Again, i want it changed because i and other gimps need it, and entire communities benefit.
Don’t follow the standard line on this, putting your own class ideas on mine. Get over the whole “if it’s free or a trade it’s not worth it” thing! It’s simply not true. Lay with a friend in a park, play with a cat in sunbeams, volunteer at a play party, help your neighbour plant their garden, help a lover move, play music with friends: all of it is free, all of it has worth. Whether or not you’re able to perceive it, so does this.

<3

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2 thoughts on “"Worth"

  1. Pingback: this is why i talk about this stuff | building radical accessible communities everywhere

  2. Pingback: Access to the World: Talk About, Think About and Act Upon 'This Stuff' - Changed Lives, New Journeys

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