My Top 10 List
Things I DEMAND You Know.
I've been seeing a lot of these Top 10 things wheelers... amputees... whatever.. want you to know.. and guess what, they are ALL WRONG.
Just kidding - they're not wrong, they just missed a spot. BUT you do not have to panic. I'm here to fix it for you. Because I'm good like that ☺
Get comfy because I'm going to give you a lot of information in a very short time, so please save any questions you may have to the end.
Number 1 - Increasing accessibility increases profits
This is ALL about numbers. The disability community is 15% of the population who spend over $770 billion dollars a year. 90% of your business comes from 10% of your customers. If a business is not accessible, 15% of the available customers are immediately off the table. Add in friends and family who loyalty shop and the percentages get scary. "No, I can't get in there - I go (here) instead" is a powerful ad for the competing business who IS accessible and in today's slacktivist culture, doing nothing to show your displeasure (meaning not shopping in an inaccessible establishment) actually accomplishes something.
Number 2 - Accessibility lowers social services costs.
There are people with disabilities who can and want to work but physical barriers make it impossible. Accessible infrastructure and transportation eliminates those barriers for the ones who can, want and intend to work.
The math for this one is easy too. If one ramp costs $10,000 and that enables even one person to make that jump to employment, it's paid for itself in one year. Multiply as often as necessary..
Number 3 - If you build it we will come!
The disability community makes up over 15% of the population. Less than 1% of available housing is accessible. Millions of people with disabilities are in out-of-state nursing homes due to lack of options. Local housing at all price points will grow the economy exponentially at all levels through an influx of cash, not an increase in taxation.
An example - a person living in a facility controls between $2000 and $3000 per month. This money follows the person. The person usually prefers to live near their families and friends. Options = growth.
Number 4 - our cash value is exponential.
The reports are true - cripples travel in packs.. sometimes very large ones depending on the adventure, so when I roll in to a place to eat, or stay for the night, or see a movie etc I'm rarely alone.
When a place is accessible, word travels fast, and many times people will make a point of choosing that business simply because they know their friends and family can get in even when they're not with them.
Disabled travel is a 6 BILLION dollar a year industry. That number will grow as the population ages and as more destinations become accessible.
Number 5 - we have to pay for ADA enforcement
Shocker - there is no enforcement mechanism in the Americans With Disabilities Act. What that means is - you can't just "call someone" like the police, or the state or the government to enforce the law, you have to call an Attorney - and PAY them, because the Department of Justice is the only authorized government entity to bring a case other than the individual affected.
And there are no provisions for damages - so all those terror stories about mercenary crippled people suing under the ADA and getting rich are just not true.
Number 6 - those stupid "inspiration porn" pics are - well stupid
And by stupid I mean they are as offensive as offensive can get - especially when they are put out by groups or people who are not disabled or have no connection, they just want to be seen as "inclusive". They aren't. They make me want to reach through my computer screen and bitch slap some sense into the vapid moron who started it all.
Sorry to burst anyone's happy bubble, but exploiting a person with a disability to make a "position statement" is flat out rude and we - DO NOT LIKE IT. If you see someone doing this - tell them to STOP IT.
This ABSOLUTELY APPLIES to every teacher, coach or school program that ever put a child with a disability on display to showcase the largesse of nondisabled children to show how inclusive they are by allowing the disabled child ONE opportunity to participate but only as an actuator to a non-disabled child's performance.
Number 7 - Disability Deniers are the root of all evil
"The only disability in life is a bad attitude", "you can do anything if you try hard enough" or other platitudes that are supposed to be inspirational are the bane of our community.
Usually spouted by non disabled, self important, irrelevant and disconnected people in the media, like able bodied athletes who deign to speak on our behalf. or worse, newly disabled people who spew this nonsense because the media is helping them raise money and no one wants to give to an angry cripple.....
When other crips do it - it's worse. It's a status game and perpetuates the myth that issues cause by a disability are the fault of the disabled person.
In case you are tempted to defend these insulting ongoing victim-blames, FYI, we, and by we I mean those who have been disabled a long time, do not give a flying f*** about what disability deniers think.
For those who do not know what a "flying f***" is, it's that supercrip that magically overcomes their disabilities in LALA LAND by having a great attitude. You can identify them easily by their capes and the fact they are hovering above you in mid-air in a wheelchair...
Number 8 - About us without us belittles us.
Events, programs, activities or any other "happenings" that are run for the benefit of people with disabilities, but where people with disabilities are unable or unwelcome to participate in that event as anything other than recipients of charity or proceeds from the program do far more damage than the do-gooders who plan and defend those activities realize.
It is particularly egregious (that means bad) when events are done by family members and friends of newly injured. They usually get a lot of press and everyone gushes over the great thing they are doing without realizing it demeans the person they are doing it for - on more levels than they can comprehend.
Number 9 - Proximity and experience are two different words
And because they are different words, they mean different things. To illustrate - seeing someone get poked with a stick is not the same as being poked with a stick. I hear that allowed cripple translation as a defense for unqualified job holders and access issues all the time. "My dad was disabled.. so I know what you're going through and what needs to be done" uumm.. no. you don't. You know what it's like to KNOW someone with a disability, you have absolutely NO first hand knowledge. I'm not a doctor but I've seen one on tv. This is a problem because those people usually tend to think they have some sort of right and or special dispensation to speak on our behalf using the Kevin Bacon Six Degrees of Separation Rule.. They insert themselves, uninvited, between us and our rights. What they see as a buffer or a filter is really a full on barrier to our participation because non-disabled will look to THEM for validation of their discrimination simply because they're NOT disabled - the irony of ironies..
Number 10 - we are the greatest actors in the world
Have you ever noticed all the smiling cripples around? Have you ever wondered why they're so happy? Has that shining happy cripple smile made you feel things in that person's life are great? Yup.. that's the proof of our acting abilities. I bet you even believe it when one of your crip friends says they "really don't mind staying behind" after you realize your group plans are somewhere they can't get in.. do you believe them when they say "it's ok, I'm used to it"? When you do, it's because of our mad acting skills.
You might be thinking - Why would someone do that? The answer is it's the only area where we have a choice. Access is denied, participation is denied, if you get married you lose your benefits, so relationships are denied, jobs are denied, food is denied, medical help is denied, housing, financial independence, even OPPORTUNITY.. all are denied. By design and by lack of action and indignation from society. The only choice we have is how do we handle it. With a bit of class or tell the truth and be shunned further for not having a good attitude about it all..
Number 11 - Crippled people can't count.. ☺
Some of us can't anyway.. Number 11 is a work in progress. As I think of things to add to the list, they'll go here :)
A bit more food for thought..
Having a disability doesn't suspend citizenship.
Full participation is not a favor or a gift - it's a right.
We're not property or to be used as a "teaching resource" for the courts or the justice system without our EXPLICIT permission. People in rehab centers and hospitals are not punishment to be handed down to criminals, bullies, abusers and those being disciplined. Families, friends, the person themselves, ALL the medical and professional staff, have a right to a safe environment.