i have come to realise that in as much as most of us would like to think that we are so much more than the sum of our parts, we cannot deny how our day-to-day working lives affect our lives outside of work whether we like it or not. for example, years of being a driver has made dave rather obsessed with listening to traffic reports. my mothers on and off stint as a cleaner has made her more than a little psychotic when she has to do the dishes at home. and for me, being a wheelchair pusher has given me an almost unhealthy preoccupation with weather reports. the other subject that plagues me constantly is accessibility.
everywhere i go, whether im working or not, every crack in the sidewalk and every building with stairs and no elevator seems to present itself as a creation put on this earth for the specific purpose of ruining my life. i am forever drafting angry letters in my mind and assessing the dimensions and door operation of bathroom stalls. it seems like craziness, and perhaps it is, but it has gotten me thinking about the greater issue at hand here.
the reason all of these little nuisances are so irritating is because more often than not, disabled people (and their support staff) seem totally invisible to the outside world. whether its lack of accessibility for a wheelchair or the fact that a high functioning adult feels the need to NOT disclose the details of their intellectual capacity to new people they meet, the general population seems to find the disabled community so alien and uncomfortable that they prefer to act as if it doesnt exist. then, if you confront people on it, they fire back with this brilliant argument about how "i thought that disabled people wanted to be given equal rights so why should they be given special treatment?" the fact is that is absolutely correct, and no one wants special treatment. they want equal treatment.
it is not equal treatment when an individual cannot enter a store or travel on a sidewalk because of inaccessibility. it is not equal treatment when an adult paying customer at a retail outlet cannot get service or even eye contact from the staff. it is not equal treatment when someone has to leave a public place in search of a washroom that can accommodate them. and it is certainly not equal treatment when people presume to understand what living like this is like.