Back to Normal, Back to Inaccessible

Kirsten Imani Kasai, 50, a novelist in San Diego and self-described introvert, describes how she found comfort and safety in the relative quietude of the past year — and fears the return of a noisier, more-demanding world. Emily Ladau, 29, a disability rights activist in Long Island, N.Y., says she worries that the shift back to in-person interactions will force her, once again, to navigate environments that weren’t designed for the physically disabled.

Source: Opinion | Reopening Anxiety? You’re Not Alone. – The New York Times

I’m an autistic, hyper-sensory wheelchair user. Loud noises and light touch can induce agonizing cramps strong enough to tear muscle, dislocate joints, and break bones. I prefer to stay at home where I am not overwhelmed by the logistics and stimulus of an inaccessible world.

During COVID lockdown, my favorite restaurants started curb side service. My doctors offered telemedicine. The various educators and healthcare workers who help us home school our neurodivergent kids offered Zoom sessions and noticed how well they responded to learning from the safety and accessibility of home.

More places became compatible with written communicators and the phone averse. I even made some progress with getting healthcare, education, and local businesses to respect communication preferences and improve digital accessibility.

And now, much of that is falling away.

We’ve been warning that the accommodations that suddenly became possible during a pandemic would go away and we’d be back to forced intimacy and the accommodations grind.

Source: Structural Ableism Doesn’t Stop at the Firewall – Ryan Boren

So thoroughly discouraging.

In the video, you will hear from some of these quieter voices. They explain that as much as they want the pandemic to end, it has also provided them with some relief from challenges, inequities and injuries that were all too common in their prepandemic lives.

Source: Opinion | Reopening Anxiety? You’re Not Alone. – The New York Times

I too felt that relief. As Kirsten Imani Kasai puts it in the video:

I felt safer. I felt safer.

Autistic people have significant barriers to accessing safety.” Likewise physically disabled people. Lockdown bettered accessibility and neurological pluralism, and thus safety, in myriad ways that are now disappearing.

Structural Ableism Doesn’t Stop at the Firewall

The “formal requests” at the end about employees with disabilities and the “environmental impact of returning to onsite sic in-person work” are such transparent pandering. (I have never once heard of Apple not doing whatever it takes not only to accommodate employees with any disability, but to make them feel welcome.)

Source: Daring Fireball: Internal Letter Circulates at Apple — and Leaks to The Verge — Pushing Back Against Returning to the Office

Structural ableism doesn’t stop at any company’s firewall, including Apple’s. I agree with Gruber most of the time, but here I depart. “I have never once heard of Apple not doing whatever it takes not only to accommodate employees with any disability, but to make them feel welcome” induces heavy eye roll from my neurodivergent and disabled self.

I can’t help but think that the problem for Apple is that they’ve grown so large that they’ve wound up hiring a lot of people who aren’t a good fit for Apple, and that it was a mistake for Apple to ever hook up a company-wide Slack.

Ah, “fit”. The word used to exclude so many of us. This is an exhibit of why I prefer the rule-of-thumb: culture add > culture fit.

Company-wide Slack allows marginalized people to connect and Employee Resource Groups to form.

ERGs are a culture add. Instead of bemoaning them, we should be nurturing and learning from them. They alert us to friction and bad design. Apple should care about bad design. So should Gruber.

We are formally requesting a transparent, clear plan of action to accommodate disabilities via onsite, offsite, remote, hybrid, or otherwise location-flexible work.

Source: Apple employees push back against returning to the office in internal letter – The Verge

Cheers. Thanks for including us. We’ve been warning that the accommodations that suddenly became possible during a pandemic would go away and we’d be back to forced intimacy and the accommodations grind.

We should be foregrounding complexity as the baseline instead of effectively telling marginalized people to shut up and ERGs to go away.

”Multiplicities are an intention: We build the best collaboration, the deepest learning, when we expand the opportunities for complex vision.”

Texas Republicans Suppress the Crip Vote and Prescribe Forced Intimacy

Today, as Texas Republicans are advancing SB 7, legislation that directly targets disabled voters, Fair Fight Action launched a Disability Council made up of a diverse group of disability advocates. Members include Fair Fight Action’s Dom Kelly, former Congressman Tony Coelho, Sarah Blahovec, Emily Blum, Patrick Cokley, Matthew Cortland, Colleen Flanagan, Jules Good, Claudia Gordon, Mia Ives-Rublee, Ted Jackson, Emily Ladau, Andraéa LaVant, Vilissa Thompson, Zan Thornton, Gaylon Tootle, and Tiffany Yu.

Source: Fair Fight Action Launches Disability Council, Condemns Texas Voter Suppression Bill Targeting Disabled People | Fair Fight

That’s a great roster of disability advocates. So glad to see Fair Fight including us and fighting with us to #CripTheVote.

As for what Texas Republicans are up to this time…

Further, the legislation allows partisan poll watchers to film voters who require assistance at the polls if the watcher “reasonably believes” that the assistance is unlawful, forcing disabled people to defend themselves from harmful accusations and compromising their right to privacy.

Ableist, gross, and nerve-racking. Disability policing is already frustrating and demoralizing enough. I already worry about having to defend my disability status when a poll worker escorts me and my rollator forward (on those wonderful occasions when there’s a poll worker monitoring the queue). We’re filmed for disability policing, and we’re filmed for inspiration. It’s exhausting.

These proposals in SB 7 invade the privacy of disabled voters, forcing them to provide private and deeply personal medical information in order to be able to vote with assistance.

Moar paperwork!” says the Republican penchant for government-mandated forced intimacy.

Forced intimacy is the continuous submission to patient hoodrequired to access the right to learn, work, and live differently. K-12 SpEd families, higher ed students, and workers needing accommodations regularly experience forced intimacy. Forced intimacy “chips away at your soul. Every box you tick, every sentence about your ‘impairment’ and ‘needs’ becomes part of the narrative of your identity.

Forced intimacy is a cornerstone of how ableism functions.” “Forced intimacy is the opposite of access intimacy.” “Access intimacy is that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else ‘gets’ your access needs.

Source: Accessibility, Access Intimacy, and Forced Intimacy – Ryan Boren

Forced intimacy in the form of more paperwork requiring intimate details. Forced intimacy in the form of vigilantes filming us vote. Ableism and inaccessibility as a result. A Big Lie of fraud as justification.

Texas Republicans consistently insert themselves into our lives and care, imposing a continuous permitting process on our existence and encouraging vigilante permit policing.

Donate to Fair Fight, and vote against Republicans.

Ableist discrimination and bigotry materialize in countless ways, but talk to anyone whose disability isn’t immediately obvious and this kind of story pops up again and again. Encounters turn bad because a random individual-sometimes in a position of official authority, other times just a meddling onlooker-decides someone is getting away with something. They cry “fraud.” They demand proof. They seek to restore order. Such incidents often result in humiliation or forced disclosure. Worse, as in Minnesota, they can spark violence and trauma.

Thousands joined the thread to share their experiences: Anyone who uses accessible parking but who doesn’t look sufficiently disabled or who only uses their wheelchair sometimes has encountered the “Good Samaritan” stranger who demands that they prove their disability. It happens a lot in parking lots, because accessible parking spaces are hotly contested proving-grounds for disability.

We need to learn to expect disability. There’s no one way to look or be disabled. When someone asks for an accommodation, believe them. If someone is behaving in an atypical way, pause to reflect whether there might be a disability-related reason. Or just lighten up. Humans are diverse. We do things in our own unique ways.

Source: When Disability Is Misdiagnosed as Bad Behavior – Pacific Standard

Previously,