Who is part of the disability community?

Thinking about this article:

“Inattention to Accessibility:
Am I Part of the Disability Community, Too?”



i loved the line “Having a conference outside of the entrance to Universal Studios is rather like saying, “We’re having our conference across the street from the gates of hell. All are welcome!”


i really appreciated how this writer shared where she’s at, the hurt about both accessing disability community and accessibility. i’m outraged by the lack of willingness/ openness to dealing with this stuff too, and am not alone in that. Yes, as far as i’m concerned, these kinds of disabilities are as important as any other.  And i also really feel this part: “using up all my spoons just to get in the door is not how I see accessibility working.


i do think this article skips over (and perhaps does so intentionally) the reality that many folks on wheels and with other “visible” disabilities also are not neurotypical, such as myself. That many neuroAtypical folks have “visible” disabilities. This aspect of the article felt really all-or-nothing to me, setting up a strict binary, when i think that just isn’t the way this shit works most of the time.


i recognize that that opinion is informed by the fact that i have a lot of feelings around conversations where one presentation of a disability is pitted against another (usually “visible” and “invisible” disabilities), and we are encouraged to fight one another for the scraps.


i also really do want folks to stop making analogies to a situation they do not live. i wouldn’t say that my experience on wheels is just like her experience of sensory stuff, because it is not, even though i share some of those experiences.


And the thing is, they don’t *have* to be analogous to be understood, to be respected, and to be actively worked on improving and changing and uprooting altogether. It is scary as fuck -and can be dangerous- to put this kind of thing out there, and i’m glad that there are folks who are doing this, even if i don’t agree with it all, even if i have all kinds of feels about it.


3 thoughts on “Who is part of the disability community?

  1. Hi — Thanks so much for your thoughts on my article. I hear you about the binary, and I was trying very hard to not give it power, but it’s difficult, because in the disability world, mobility needs often come before sensory/cognitive needs, with very little attention paid to people who combine those needs, or who have only one subset

    One place in the piece in which I tried to break down the binary was to say that not all people who use wheelchairs can navigate these spaces any better than I can — and that those who can are not representative of most wheelchair users. I was trying to suggest that there are all kinds of intersecting needs, and that many people have combined mental/physical/cognitive issues. Perhaps I could have been more explicit about that. Your response is very good information for me, because I am all about cross-disability access and don’t want to come across as reifying a divide that I’d prefer weren’t there at all

    Since I’m not a wheelchair user, I resist talking too much about an experience I don’t have, and I try to limit myself to supporting the access needs of wheelchair users and responding appropriately when those access needs are not met. I was furious, for example, over what happened to Bill Peace at HWS. What I would like to see is that same outrage directed against all access problems, because the barriers I have faced for 55 years are no less fierce, disempowering, and isolating for their invisibility.

  2. There’s some good comments there on some people having mutually exclusive needs too, and on long-distance accommodation (so that an event doesn’t have to exclude most of the would-be attendees, or render them silent and invisible, in order to accommodate another would-be attendee).

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