THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACCESS LIES WITH THE EVENT PLANNERS. IT IS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL ATTENDING THE EVENT.
The issue of disability rights is often either ignored within the larger human rights dialogue or treated with outright hostility. Too often events are either held in inaccessible locations, or the way space is used, in otherwise accessible locations, rendered inaccessible. Additionally, often individual attempts at participation are greeted with out right hostility and ridicule by many individuals who consider themselves to be advocates of (more worthy?) human rights causes. If we are to build a strong movement that is truly democratic, truly representative and truly uses all the resources, skills and expertise of our community, it must be fully inclusive. if inclusion is not a collective responsibility it is delegated to the individual to assure her own participation, to adjust to the larger constructs, rather than have the community make the adjustments and accommodations. Often participation is totally impossible. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW IF YOUR EVENT IS DIS-ABILITY FRIENDLY AND ACCESSIBLE– IF WE AREN’T THERE, IT ISN’T!!!! Conversely, just because a few of us ARE there, doesn’t mean the event is accessible or safe or inclusive. It just means a few of us found a way to access a portion of the event, on their own. Some wheelchair users for example, are very athletic and can climb stairs. Their presence at an event doesn’t mean we’re all welcome, safe or included.
Attached is a guide book, published by the City of Los Angeles, for making events accessible. I would add that
1. Progressive communities need to begin (BEGIN!!!) the dialogue on inclusion.
2.All events have a designated accessibility coordinator to make sure aisles remain clear and unblocked and to support people with dis-abilities, should problems arise.
3. Ridicule and humiliation of people with dis-abilities be treated like all hate speech, and that appropriate action be taken to assure events are not hostile environments.
4. Where “special” entrances are necessary, specific signage and staffing must be provided so that people with dis-abilities have the agency to come and go with the same liberty as all other participants, not having to wait until someone becomes available to assist them.
5. Add the following statement to all publicity for your events:
this event is wheelchair accessible and dis-ability affirmative. if you need additional accommodations please contact us 72 hours prior to the event.
(and then be ready to provide sign language interpretation and other accommodations as needed.)
6. My biggest pet peeve, are otherwise accessible venues where the stage is not accessible. IT IS A VERY STRONG REMINDER– “YOU ARE WELCOME TO BE HERE, BUT WE DON’T FEEL THAT YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY!”
FOR MORE RESOURCES ON ACCESS AND PLANNING FOR INCLUSION: