Daily Archives: March 12, 2010

Call out on dis-ability access in the left


Yesterday I posted this as a facebook note, inviting activists to participate in a dialogue on establishing awareness on dis-ability inclusion in the human rights social justice movements.  I invite readers to likewise, join the discussion.  Here is the facebook link.  It’s easy to join facebook, and it is an excellent vehicle for this type of dialogue building. 


In Los Angeles, and I would imagine other cities as well, the left, progressive, the anti-war movement has been in the rearguard on the issue of dis-ability access, affirmation and full inclusion. Beyond a few friends saying i’ve raised their consciousness, I’ve seen very little change. On the other hand, I’ve been rather brutally attacked because of my dis-ability or accused of being divisive for suggesting we include more people in the movement. Many of the progressive community’s organizations don’t have accessible locations, meaning they don’t hire people with dis-abilities (pwds) they don’t have interns who are pwds (so that pwd students have less experience entering the workforce), they often don’t have events that are accessible, and even if the venues are accessible, have little monitoring to assure that the space, once filled with people, equipment and materials, remains safe, accessible and humanizing for pwds. 

Pwds have little opportunity to inform the movement. Many of the groups who claim to be vanguard revolutionary groups are by the nature of their infrastructure, exclusive of pwds, implying that there is no place for pwds in the vanguard of the movement.

I would like to start a dialogue (is that too much to ask) on this issue. Please indulge this gimp gurl, who has for the most part, like many gimps before me, given up on going to progressive events because more often than not, the experience is humiliating, dangerous, isolating and insulting. 

Can we create a language and an ethic of inclusion and stop the practice of treating pwds as the invisible or absent other?
Can we include it in our canon of isms that are part of the course of study any movement cadre would be familiar with?
Can we determine a protocol for event planning, notification, accommodation, safety and inclusion?
Can we look, collectively for creative ways to solve the financial issues that impede (and yet can NEVER be an excuse) full inclusion?
Can we train our own cadre in accessibility facilitation, sign language interpretation, etc. to deter costs?
Can we find ways to make inaccessible venues fully accessible? (We’ll carry you up the stairs isn’t it– and what will you do to assist in an inaccessible bathroom?)
Can we familiarize ourselves with the language, protocol and etiquette of inclusion? 
Can we take responsibility for inclusion, including pwd informed advocacy?
Can we all start to demand that events and locals be fully accessible and inclusive? (When was the last time you complained that a restaurant or event required stair climbing?)