When Dave Hingsburger from Rolling Around in My Head (http://davehingsburger.blogspot.com/) mentioned that he was hosting the February Disability blog carnival and that the theme was ‘love we have for the things that make our world accessible’ I was excited. I was full of ideas. I was going to write about how much I loved my chair (again) or I was going to write about how I loved when places are completely accessible without having me to ask for help.
And I kept thinking and thinking. I began writing multiple times only to hit the backspace and start over. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Dave’s blog is about how uniquely positive it is. The chance that I’ll click on the blog link in the morning and be likely to read a heartwarming story about children who just ‘get’ things is often far greater than the chance of reading a post that makes me want to rage against the world. His blog tends to make me feel as if I’m astoundingly negative about the world, and I’m afraid that this post won’t change that one bit.
If I wanted to be positive I would write about how free my wheelchair makes me. But one, I’ve already written that post, and two, all I can think of at the moment is how absurdly difficult that process was. I’ve had so many people tell me I didn’t need a wheelchair that I’m often afraid to move my legs while in it. I cringe when I go shoe shopping because I’m afraid someone’s going to run up to me and yell ‘you don’t need that!’. I hate explaining that while I can walk assisted, I can’t actually go up certain steps.
My wheelchair makes me free. It doesn’t make the world accessible to me.
The things that make the world accessible to me are the most common disability modifications. I need ramps, elevators, and widened doorways or aisles. Should I love them? Should I love seeing a ramp next to the handicap parking? Should I love seeing an elevator when I need to go to the second or third floor? Should I love being able to get through aisles without a problem?
Part of me immediately says yes. That’s the part that is just so relieved that I can go somewhere, that I can go to the store or the school or the public office building. And it is wrong. The rest of me is screaming NO.
How many people love the fact that there is a flight of stairs to get to their second floor apartment? Do they greet the stairs with a happy and relieved smile? Do they have to make plans on what to do if there were no stairs to their apartment?
So why should I love these things? Should I love them because they’re surprisingly rare? Should I love them because my favorite shop finally became accessible to me again? Should I love it when employees treat me like a human being instead of a prop or an exciting story? Should I love it when parking lots shovel the snow and move the snow somewhere that actually isn’t the handicap parking spaces?
Should I be grateful?
Will I love these things anyway? Sometimes. Will I be grateful anyway? Sometimes. Will this inconsistency drive me up the wall? You bet.
Right now, I refuse to love ramps, curb cuts, and elevators. They might make the world accessible to me but I refuse to love something that should be taken for granted.