I’m writing you all to inform you that I did not exactly go to any bar last night. I couldn’t. Trenton, my beloved man of seven years straight, is sensitive to loud noises and crowds, so we opted out. It was a bummer, but I couldn’t have done service tasks with all that music. Oh well. My buddy was on bass, and he played with a country band, but I’ll still be supportive of this band and all its endeavors. I hope they chart and do successful stuff.
In other news, it is Autism Acceptance month. Why not awareness, you ask? For the same reason I want to be accepted, loved, and adored, autistics deserve the same things. Humanity is a fickle bitch, it does not like to accept problems or quirks about people and such. There are many fickle bitches in humanity, but the ficklest bitch in humanity is the unacceptable behaviors of its members. One of those things is called ableism, and it permeates every aspect of society.
Here are some examples of ableism, and how I’ve dealt with those. Believe me, it ain’t easy.
- I have been accused at a Walmart in Lakewood, Colorado, of harassing customers when the management couldn’t get help for me. Nobody cared. Nobody looked my way. I ended up calling a buddy of mine, one who lives in the Golden/Jefferson County area, and 20 minutes later, she arrived at the store to help me shop. Since then, I don’t go to that Walmart or even bother calling because the last time I called, nobody picked up. This Walmart has a long way to go to accepting blind customers, especially those on EBT food stamps. Making us get a subscription is not gonna solve the problem of ableism and unacceptable people in the store calling me out for harassment.
- There are places and establishments where broken accessibility things exist. When it comes to restaurant menus, for example, my beloved Trenton and I have been to places where the menus look like shit. Well, okay, the binding is falling apart, the Braille itself has been riddled with oopses, like errors in the Braille exist too many times to count, and here’s this former Braille proofist saying this. I have had to tell my former boss that there are so many weird format inconsistencies, point them out, and so on. I could write a novel in which all the menus I’ve seen had this problem or that problem, but I digress.
- Another thing I notice is that kiosks are not usable by blind and visually impaired people. Blind folks, especially Clayton and myself, have encountered places and casual eating establishments other than the McDonald’s somewhere or other, that have these awful kiosk thingies, and they aren’t usable. I’m this close to saying that we should ban all inaccessible tech including these kiosks, especially when it pertains to blindness. Blindness ought not to be a barrier to inclusion in society.
- Now, besides blindness, let’s get to ableist assumptions about autism. First off, cars drive too fast. Some autistics bolt, and they run off. That’s good if the place they go to is not the highway. So my late friend would put her daughter in a large carriage so she didn’t have to walk around not feeling safe. The mother needed peace of mind. I get it. Some autistics just get damn overwhelmed by the sensory overload that some places have. Now, here’s something that could help with this. Quiet rooms do help a bit, but there needs to be more of those.
- Autistics are said not to have “good” social skills. Who cares. Autistics have special subjects they enjoy. They have quirky by nature behaviors, but what are we doing? We are enabling killers to fix them by making them nonexistent. Case in point, the Disability Day of Mourning put on by a lot of people across the country. People hold vigils in honor of autistics who die of what’s called vilicide, and my buddy Arielle Silverman, author and blogger on Disability Wisdom, has covered this subject a lot. Dr. Silverman says that vilicide often gets different sympathetic responses but all for the killer, not the autistic victim. This is dangerous and lethal ableism. My friends with autism can understand.
- Ableism enables abuse. Every form of ableism here, trust me, will enable abuse. Abuses range from isolation from friends and family, isolation from the outside world in general, and limits on what you can wear, what you can do, and be. Imagine though if you were LGBTQIA+ and autistic. In specific categories, like transgender folks with autism, there are limits on healthcare now based on hateful assumptions and perverted thoughts about these people, but autistics with preferences other than the heteronormative ones are deemed unacceptable, and therefore abused, go back to the prior entry for talk of vilicide. In any case, if one is transgender, of color, and disabled, society doesn’t like that. Who cares.
- Ableism can also have a huge impact on education. Let’s take the learning of Braille for instance. Braille is literacy, I’m not gonna lie. IF not for Braille, I wouldn’t have won 13th in my county for spelling bees, don’e super well in spelling, grammar, and other things. My mother even relied on me to help her compose essays in e-prime methodology, where you don’t write the verbs and conjugal words for the words “to be”, the state of being is out so yeah. My mother was proud of me for having composed essays, and I compose regularly here on this blog. However, Braille enabled me to also understand paragraphs, sentence structure, and many other things. Braille is also a helpful labeling tool, organizing my CD catalogue being a good example. I had all kinds of labels on CD’s and my CD’s were labeled and alphabetized according to genre, artist, or group. Holy moly, I had thousands perhaps that amount of CD’s was a bit much, but you’re talking to a musical guru here.
- Ableism and education part 2. So if you don’t know Braille as a blind person, you can’t function as well. I’ve also wanted to point out that too many schools think Braille is inferior. Like what the hell is inferior about Braille? Nothing. Louis Braille, a French born blind schoolboy, invented this dot writing system so we blind folks wouldn’t have to depend so heavily on sighted assistance, but we still have a long way to go. Clayton and I have experienced countless forms of discrimination and nobody knows what to do with us because we say, well, as a good example, where is the Braille signage for bathrooms? Clayton and I don’t want to find each other in a woman’s restroom, but if we don’t have a way to read a sign that says “women” or “men”, someone will look Clayton in the face and say, “Get the hell out. This is the girls/women’s bathroom.” But I could give you a whole list of other uses of Braille people aren’t looking at. Example, Braille cards. If a group of blind people want to play, you get a bunch of Braille playing cards, right? Wrongo. It’s harder to do than you think. Uno is fun, but I haven’t played in a long while, but I do know how to do it. But I want to be able to participate in things. So the best thing a retailer can do is sell Braille playing cards. Imagine I had a poker night at my house. Clayton and Trenton join me at the table. Let’s imagine I said, “Let’s play five card stud.” I do that right away, and the cards tell you if it’s a queen of clubs, for example. Maybe if I had two more or no more than four, I’d play hearts. Someone has to play the two of clubs first, then you just do strategy based on the cards you have. IF you have to break hearts, hearts are broken when you put a 2 of hearts on the pile. The deck for this game is split in to four sections. See? Braille has lots of uses. But people aren’t getting that. While TVI’s and professional aids who work with blind students are getting less and less cool, let’s also do something I’ll highlight below.
- Blind people should be teaching each other. Ableism has allowed sighted supremacy to pervade the career market for teachers of visually impaired and special education. This is a dire thing, and dire needs are being known forever. For special education teachers, we need folks who are disabled themselves teaching others. Blind people have specific needs, including a Braille teacher, someone to show them tech, someone to teach them proper and good ways to cook and manage a place of their own, and much more, and I did get all that at a place that does hire blind folks. Colorado Center for the Blind, while under investigation for banning people for reporting perverts, is however bad it may seem, a good place to begin. I want to see empowerment on all sides for blind folks, especially in tech. See below.
- Blind people need a society that doesn’t put barriers in front of which technology they use because one piece of tech isn’t an option because it doesn’t talk. Examples, Android versus iPhone. I could go on and on and on. Android has come a long way, but when I first saw it, cheap it may have been, but accessible to the point it is now? No it wasn’t. I also have to worry about cooking appliances, healthcare devices, and other things not being usable for me, and some brands are simply better than others. IF I had diabetes, I would need an insulin pump as an option, but guess what? The only way I can ingest insulin now is with a needle, ewww. I don’t like needles, and they can hurt people if placed in the garbage. Insulin pumps, however, are inaccessible, and sighted assistance is often required to make the pump change doses and such. I do know of one thing called the freestyle Dexcon, which can sit on your arm and the app is fully usable, but that just tests your glucose, and that’s fine but no needles and pricking for me. Management of other healthcare needs can be a challenge for us too. My buddy Ray uses a feed tube to keep herself alive and sane. Her feed pump just beeps, and she frequently needs help with that and formula for her feeds needs to be placed in the right area. Every time I get a new piece of technology, I have to ask myself, how the fuck do I use it? Since manuals are written in print, not often Braille, I do the smart thing and look those things up online. I have to place my faith in humanity that the damn websites and manuals for peripherals and tech are readable by Voiceover which is my screen reading software of choice.
- Ableism messes with people who can’t walk or stand. Let’s picture if someone wanted to use the bathroom. What happens often is there’s just one damn handicapped/accessible bathroom suite. It’s huge, which works not only for wheelchair folks, but claustrophobic people. Universal accessibility of bathrooms isn’t the only thing. Housing and such has no idea how expensive it is to put a bar on a wall of a bathroom. Suppose someone got paralyzed by birth or in an accident, and required special care. If there were less barriers in housing, ableism being the top reason for this, caregivers wouldn’t necessarily be a need. Take my friends Patrick and Jessica. They’re wheelchair users, one with MD, muscular dystrophy and another with limbs that won’t straighten. Patrick Henry Hughes needs a big house with bars on the walls, and should be given the architecture and supports to do the stuff he loves. Same with his now beloved wife Jessica, who has the same if not differing needs. The two of them could choose a barrier free housing place, but that is expensive. Luckily, Patrick got support from a TV show, supportive family, and so much more. That doesn’t always happen for people with MD and CP and other conditions that require or sometimes necessitate the use of a chair. The chair can mean any number of conditions, but the main thing is architecture of buildings must meet disability friendly guidelines, and there is a pocket of society that doesn’t accept. How can we do better? First and foremost, well, we need to build access into everything from the ground up.
I’d like to dedicate this post to all my disabled buddies and congratulate the people who get married in my community. However, ableism has another awful sinister undertone. Marriage equality with benefits attached does not extend to disabled people. If Clayton marries me, he loses about half of what he earns in SSI benefits, may lose medicaid and many other things. I might get jacked as well. Clayton knows the system better than I do. IF a spouse makes more than a partner with a disability, all bets are off that the disabled people married here are so out of luck. Their check is cut, and they have no choice but to starve, dress in rags, or worse, fight the system and lose. I want ableism to go away in that regard because we shouldn’t have to choose love and lose money.
Thank you so much for reading, all. I will be flying out tomorrow and I can’t wait. I cannot wait so much, and Clayton is really excited too. HE’s a very excited and happy camper, and I can’t wait to join him on some adventurous travels. I guess it’s bon voyage to me.