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  • Writer's pictureKyrby Brown

Calling Out Public Ignorance

Advocacy - “public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.”

If I had a coin for every apologetic delivery driver parked on the pavement blocking my route I would be a rich person.

“I’ll only be a minute”

 I also get regular apologies from people working in inaccessible shops and restaurants. 

“Sorry we don't have a ramp”

“Our Accessible Toilet is out of order, the nearest one is a mile down the road”

Not to mention the absent minded witless wonders who casually step over me in busy places, like I’m some sort of obstacle - a traffic cone on wheels. 

“You’re in my way but don’t worry about moving, I’ll just step over you”

(Side note: in this instance, after a day full of witless wonders and rapidly thinning patience, I have taken to intentionally tripping people over because it’s not cool to step over anyone, ever! Fair warning)

I have now decided that “sorry” is not enough, I would like the ignorance to stop please! 

I’m British, politeness and (the appearance of) calm acceptance is in my very bones, drilled to the core. I don’t want make a scene. On the other hand, I’m very aware that you’re not really sorry. If you were sorry you wouldn’t keep doing it, if you were sorry you’d address the accessibility issues that make my daily life 100 times more difficult. 

Sorry just suggests that you’re aware that what you’re doing is wrong but you’re going to just keep doing it anyway because…? 

This is where we need to advocate for ourselves, make is known that this attitude is simply not socially acceptable. However, this change is not the responsibility of the Disabled community, it’s the responsibility of society as a whole.  

‘Accessibility is not a problem to be solved, it is a culture to be built’ - this awesome quote is not mine, I’m not sure who said it originally (thank you mystery person) but it’s the best thing I have read in years. We can approach each situation individually for 10 years and barely make a dent in societal discrimination. But, if we educate the masses and change perceptions and misconceptions, meaningful change will happen. 

The icing on the cake? Accessibility makes things better for everyone! When societal behaviours become more accessible that has positive implications across the board, everyone wins! - how often can we say that. Not to mention inaccessibility is active discrimination, it’s actually against the law! Crazy right! 

Image Description: Me walking the dog on a frosty morning, frustrations of the world miles away.

So what can we do about it? Well, here’s a few suggestions: 

  1. Call people out - not in an inflammatory rude way - but ask: why is there no ramp? How long has the toilet/lift/etc. been out of order? When should I expect it repaired? Hold businesses and individuals accountable for their choices. 

  2. Give feedback, don’t just complain. It’s easy to come away from a poor access experience feeling frustrated and wanting to express this, just be sure to include how things could be improved. What can be done to make things better? Staff training? Better practices/policies? Also be sure to include any positive parts of your experiences, I always like to point out staff who take time to make the day better. 

  3. Don’t give up! Some days you don’t want to face the challenge of ignorance and inaccessibility, that’s ok. Breathe, recharge and try again. The only way things will change is if we show society that we are not a rare minority, we are people living our lives, we are just as entitled to access the community as anyone else. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! 

I have no idea what brought on this rambling mess but, as many would say, better out than in. 

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