Accessibility and Accommodations are Human Rights
As I attend more day long events I have been realizing the impact that accessibility and accommodation have on who it included and excluded from events.
I’m going to talk about a resent experience I had below. This will highlight how refusal to meet accommodation needs continues to be a means of exclusion of people with disabilities.
What makes me sad with the experience I will share is not that the environment was not accessible, but that the mind set of the planners of the event lead to people not meeting the requested needs of myself.
This has been a continued issue with this one organization, which has lead me to realize that I can not longer attend these events. This is not a choice I am making. Lack of communication and accommodation means that my health has been put at risk. I am no longer willing to risk my health and safety to access this space. I am tried of trying to facilitate change within these spaces make it safe, and possible, for myself and others with disabilities to attend.
Accessibility and accommodation is a human right. By not upholding your rights and responsibilities to make a space welcoming and safe for people you engage in a history of eugenic violence against people with disabilities.
I have attended a two day knowledge mobilization (KMb) event a few times in the past few years. The first year I was still learning that I could make accommodation requests. As a result I abstained from making a request.
I have become more secure in my rights to access accommodation, particularly since my health can be put at risk if they are not meet. As well, I have become tried of having my accommodation being a point of conversation instead of my skills and knowledge.
My second time attending this event I made requests, but had no communication about the accommodations. I couldn’t attend the two day KMb event at the last minute, so I have no idea if the accommodations were met.
Knowing that communication about accommodations was not done the year before I made a request to be contacted about my two accommodation request. I also made sure it was clear that one accommodation was needed to maintain my health and ability to attend the event.
Yet, no contact was made. About either accommodation request. As a result, one of my accommodations was not met. The accommodation that puts my health at risk (food related allergies) had such a lack of communication I was left to make risky assumptions about food. Thankfully, I only had a minor reaction as I quickly realized that my food accommodations had not been met.
I have many food allergies, some mild and some major. If the food I ate, which was mislabeled or not labeled clearly or at all, had not been had ingredients that I was mildly allergic two I would have ended up in the hospital.
I’m not willing to risk my life any longer. My accommodation needs include communication about how those needs are being met so I don’t have to make guesses that risk my life.
What makes me most frustrated is that I have tried to broach conversation about accommodations many time. I’ve tried to open discussion in group settings. I’ve sent e-mails. I’ve talked to people in person. I’ve tried to present information about accessibility and accommodations.
I’ve been shut down every time.
If this organization wants to continue the eugenic history of segregation and isolation of people with disabilities then I will take my knowledge, expertise, and skills somewhere they are appreciated and wanted.
One of my attempts to engage this organization, and the KMb field in general, about accessibility it to create, and try to present a workshop. I am going to share it here. It was brief, aiming to be about ten minutes. It highlighted my five main learnings in engaging in making events accessible.
I’ve added the prezi here. Look forward in the next few weeks to see the copy of the written up version of the workshop.
I have been critically engaging with the KMb field this year for part of my PhD work. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some of what I have been thinking about.
This will mostly be in the format of presentations I created for conferences. I hope that they can create some conversations. Topics will range from the accessibility, devalued knowledge, exclusion, racism and more.