We celebrated my father’s 70 years on earth with a small feast a few days ago. A band of immediate, extended fam and friends attended. To my delight a handful of disabled folks were among the revelers with visible disabilities. Some congenital, through accident, and age-related were present and partying with canes in tow! Their presence made possible by combination of choice, ability, accessibility/accommodations of venue, etc. *joy*..On the flip side, oh how many times I’ve been invited to an event, inquired about the accessibility, told there are stairs, no elevator or “just one step” or “yes, it’s accessible” and arrive only to find the opposite or lack of accessible parking and restrooms…*bummer*…insert feelings of deception, isolation, and discrimination.
Details matter especially when you have compromised mobility and/or require accommodations so that you are not excluded from everyday events. These are all quality of life concerns that give peace of mind and should matter to us all since disability is not an exclusive club nor homogeneous demographic; we number at nearly 57 million per the 2010 US Census. In my experience and in my own community those details sometimes don’t make the radar unless there is lived experience of having a disability. The importance of such diversity and disability perspective is key since viewpoints will highlight areas others may miss because there isn’t knowledge of the needs of a particular community. Learned a few things along the way since working on this project to increase accessibility to local businesses for close to a decade now that has seen little movement but has a pilot program set to began in fall.
Thankfully, we have the Americans with Disabilities Act on our side, a key piece of legislation that ensures the rights of the disabled. We celebrated 25 years since the passing of the ADA this past July and know the work of maintaining disability rights and working for progress is continuous. Along with protests, petitions, and informing public policy we need to party!
In the disability community, when our needs are accommodated we can “party and bullshit” right along with our non-disabled fam and friends as I shared in another blog here. Besides, it’s way more fun when we can shake a tailfeather together whether you stand, sit and chair dance, or nod your head and nurse your drink when you have access the choice is yours.