Disability Dialogs: Accessibility

Variations on the following exchange happen all the time ...

Disabled person: “Society is ableist! Disabled people are oppressed by ableism!”

Non-disabled person: “You’re exaggerating. Things are so much better than they used to be!"

Disabled person: “#$%&! All the restaurants in my neighborhood have steps, and the ones with ramps have inaccessible bathrooms!”

Non-disabled person: “Really? That can’t be right, it's against the law!”

Disabled person: “Are you kidding me?”

Non-disabled person: “What?!”

Disabled person: “Never mind …”

Non-disabled person: "You should really speak to the managers about this …”

Disabled person: “You think I haven’t tried?!”

Non-disabled person: “Well, if you talk to them like that, you won’t get anywhere …”

Disabled person: "#$%&!”

Non-disabled person: “Well, if educating the owners doesn’t work, just file an ADA complaint. ”

Disabled person: “You think that will do any good? The only way it would help would be if I could afford the time and money to sue, but I can’t. Pretty much nobody can.”

Non-disabled person: “ … “

Non-disabled person: “You still shouldn’t be so angry. Nobody will listen to a chronically complaining hothead.”

Disabled person: “But, society is ableist! Ableism holds me back all the time!”

… and so on, and so on.

Quite often, the second person in the conversation is another disabled person who has also experienced discrimination and architectural barriers, but has a fundamentally different view and temperament about them. I’m pretty sure this is true because I have been that other disabled person who objected to anger and tried to explain to another disabled person how the ADA works.