Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Improving Accessibility

I found this post about accommodations (from Blogging Against Disablism Day) very helpful in thinking about ways to make the arts more accessible for everyone. Not mentioned is the fact that many of these ideas would also make art more accessible for small children, who also need frequent potty breaks and want to touch everything.

I'm also watching for things that Terramagne does, and accessibility is something they do very well. They have a LOT of statuary that is just plonked down on the ground for people to climb on. Touch the art! See it with your fingers! Skateboard over it! Not all art is meant to be preserved carefully under glass. It's meant to be lived with. Art is baskets and benches and knitted tree cozies and fountains and all kinds of cool stuff.

Also worth mentioning is the amount of job creation going on. When you buy lots of public art, then you can have lots of professional artists. When you routinely hire sign language translators, you not only attract more hearing-impaired folks, you also provide jobs for people with those translation skills. Same with descriptions for the vision-impaired. It's not just a hint about how much you care for people with disabilities, but your commitment to the economy and the culture as a whole. In particular, T-America has a much more active economy because they collect more taxes from corporations and then dispense that money through education, art and science grants, social safety nets, and other things that benefit the population at large.

Notice that while some of these accommodations focus on infrastructure (ramps instead of stairs) many of them are based on services which can easily be added (at-seat usher services). So if you ever organize events or are in charge of spaces, look at the list and think about whether you could include any of these value-added accommodations. Think about advertising them not just for people with disabilities, but also children and seniors. Consider taking flyers for your event or business to hospitals, child care, senior centers, and other places where there may be people who find it challenging to locate activities they can actually do.

Something else that has occurred to me recently: There is no Big Book of Accommodations.  All we have are tipsheets and ADA regulations.  Those are helpful, but not sufficient.  Suppose you're an employer who wants a diverse workforce.  You make sure everything is up to code, but your employees are still bonking, and because you've hired two (totally different) autistics, a blind woman, a guy in a wheelchair, and three people who (for different reasons) need to eat frequently they are all bonking in different ways.  Now what?  Your choices are to ignore it until they ask you for something, which is discreet but looks less-supportive; or ask them what they need, which can be intrusive and is exhausting for them to have to keep explaining everything to everyone.  People who have limitations are constantly encountering both problems and solutions. What we really need is a collated resource where folks can look this stuff up.  You're in a wheelchair or you just hired someone who is.  Where is The Big Book of Wheels so you can plan for this instead of bonking into it?  And we need that for every disability, so that every individual and every employer does not have to reach the end of the tipsheet and then reinvent the wheel from there on.

What are some other accommodations you can think of? What would you like to see me write about? Next up is the May 3 fishbowl with a theme of "schooling vs. education" so that's relevant to accessibility.
Tags: activism, holiday, how to, reading
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