Day of #AccessEquality

Listen to this post: 

There’s some irony to posting this online because only people who are online will get it. But I think it’s a great start and a great way to leverage social media to have more frank, honest discussions about accessibility and how that relates to equity.

Here’s what I’m posting, using Dominick Evans’ words to describe it. He’s one of the founders of the project, the National Day of Access Equality.

“I am working with others with disabilities around the world to promote a day to educate and inform about access barriers. I believe that the vast majority of discrimination people with disabilities face is due to lack of access.

In my mind, access isn’t just about physically being able to move around this world. Access barriers can be mental and emotional. Access barriers can include stigma and oppression. As such, something needs to change. We need to make the world aware of access barriers, so that real change can be made. That is the idea behind the day of Access Equality.

Participation can occur anywhere in the world. There are a variety of ways to participate. These include:
  • blogging
  • sharing our FB page located here:  facebook.com/AccessEquality
  • tweeting about access barriers using  #AccessEquality
  • contacting your state representatives and federal representatives
  • protest in your own community
  • sign petitions relating to access barriers
  • rate a business for accessibility on apps like AXS Map and AbleRoad
  • support organizations holding protests, actions, and events on September 26 by sharing their updates

We’re also planning events throughout the day, including a twitter chat, and live streaming.”

That was Dominick. Here’s me, now.

If you visit Dominick’s website, you can read a beautiful, extensive description of the various areas where disabilities communities do not have adequate access because of barriers.

Check out the Facebook page at facebook.com/AccessEquality to read posts and contribute your own stories and experiences. Awesomely of all, there will be hosted discussions all day on September 26th on that Facebook page. I’ll be hosting live-streaming conversation about cognitive access barriers 9:00 – 10:00 am Pacific time. Please join me and the other live-streaming or typing hosts all day long.

Cognitive access barriers in a nutshell: When people make stuff confusing or don’t take the time to make things clear and understandable. Some examples:

  • Long sentences with academic jargon in writing that’s meant for the public
  • Paragraphs with numbers, dates, and important info smashed in the middle where they’re hard to find
  • Neglecting to clearly use headers, paragraphs, bold font, line breaks, pictures, or other visual cues to help people with reading and attention difficulties keep track (pictures still need to be made accessible for blind users!)
  • Sending out or posting incomplete information about events or topics
  • Talking really fast, especially when you’ve been asked to speak more slowly (although some people can’t speak more slowly. So there has to be room for flexibility.)
  • Playing music with lyrics in the background of a video where people are talking or music that is nearly as loud as the speakers’ voices
  • Someone telling you that something isn’t hard or confusing when you’ve just told them it is

This day-long event is not just about cognitive barriers. It’s meant to cover any and all aspects of access barriers that disabled people face once, sometimes, or all the time. We should not be told that we have to overcome our disabilities to participate fully in our own lives and in society. We have the right to ask for and expect accommodations and accessibility. And we have the right to point out when accommodations and access are being left out (like the New York City subway station renovations that added steps or the Boston subway stations where elevators are broken somewhere seven days a week).

A last note from me: Please read Dominick’s September 14th post linked above and linked again here. At the top of my post here, Dominick said that discrimination is due to lack of access. But if you read his post, it becomes very quickly clear that lack of access is due to discrimination. I want people to take the time to read the very thoughtful, detailed list he created of the types of access barriers out there. Some of these barriers are completely illegal. Yet they continue. Some are in a fuzzy area of maybe legal, maybe illegal. Some may be legal but still ethically questionable and definitely unfair. All of them, I believe, can be boiled down to nondisabled society not taking an interest in the full participation of disabled people as real, full peers and the deeply engrained thoughts our country has about medicalizing disabled people to the point that we are objects and seen as a burden to accommodate.

Hope to see and/or hear you online September 26th to explore #AccessEquality at facebook.com/AccessEquality and beyond!