i feel like there’s something pretty major i’m missing in my thinking around this, but here goes…
For me, it’s the everydayness of being the gimp i am that propels me. The i-can’t-put-this-aside-for-an-hour-ness of it. i’ve heard many other folks talking about that part of their own experiences, and can relate to some of it. i interact with the outside world almost every day, and every day i find physical barriers. That means something. And it means something that sighted folks see me as [their perception of] Disabledtm. And every day i push back against that, whether i want to or not, and dream about spaces & times when i’m not always pushing back. But sometimes, i get so wrapped up in the realities of just not being able to access some of these places/spaces/communities, been fighting so long to just get IN the door, that sometimes i don’t know what to do once i get in.
Do you know what i mean?
The problem is that, like some others, i view access in broader terms than just physical access to a space. That is key for me, and for many of us for whom physical access is key. i’ve had conversations with disabled folks for whom physical access is not their primary issue of access (for example, someone for whom stairs don’t present a barrier), and i understand that. But for me, it’s not just a nice idea, or “important”. It’s key. Literally and figuratively. The key to a door, a room, a space, a community, to freedom, to liberation.
As the years go by, i’m reconstructing my understanding of accessibility, disability, liberation. And that process has been challenging and heartbreaking and liberating in itself.
And one big piece of it i’ve yet to fully pry apart is this:
what do i do once i get in?
- What does it mean when you’ve spent all this time working on the physical barriers to community, when some people actually start doing right by it and making their organizing and events accessible?
- What does it mean to be so tired from pushing at the doors?
- How do we, as individuals and communities recover from the ongoing hurt of that?
- How do we create not only physically accessible spaces, but liberatory ones for all disabled folks, while acknowledging the fucking imperative needs of each of us?
- Do the people who finally make their spaces/ events/ organizing physically accessible to me understand that it’s so much more than that?
- How do i feel understood in a space it has taken sometimes a decade or more of pounding at the doors (literally and figuratively) to be able to enter?
- What does it mean when i can enter but still many others cant?
- What does it mean to enter such a space that has been a site of so much resistance to the presence of disabled folks like me?
- Is this newly accessible space actually accessible? What does “physically accessible” mean anyways?What does “accessible” mean?
These are some of the questions that swirl around in my head while i go about my day. One of the great things is that, as disabled folks, we have so many different perspectives from which we come. There’s so much for us to learn from each other. i wonder what i miss out on because i so often need to be really focused on the getting-in-the-door? and what i have to offer for the same reason? i wonder what your thoughts and experiences are with it? What do you do once you get in?