Sunday, November 26, 2006

Accessibility

There was one discordant note to the Reclaim the Night march I went to last Thursday. The organisers had done a really good job of planning the after party. There was food, and a space for a debrief, as well as performers and a party.

My problem was that the bar was on two levels, and the food and debrief part of the after-party was up a steep flight of stairs.

I say 'my problem' of course it wasn't actually my problem. My legs take me up and downstairs with relative ease - and I jumped straight in to help set-up the food. It wasn't even really a problem for my friend Betsy, although stairs are an obstacle for her.

The women for whom that flight of stairs would have been a problem weren't there in the first place.

I've been struggling with accessibility in activist movements, and where my limits are, for as long as I've been an activist. Most groups I know aren't in a financial position where they can pay to hire space, so we meet wherever we can get a free room. Sometimes, but not always, that's been accessible. Sometimes, but not always, I've objected.

But I'm limited when arguing for accessible spaces, because I know it's not arguments that convinced me, it's experience. It's because for years my friend Betsy couldn't walk up a flight of stairs. Where we went for coffee, where we went for a drink, where we went to the movies, where we bought CDs, whose flat we met up at - these decisions were all influenced by the number of steps in front of the building. I see a set of steps and part of me notices it as an obstacle.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:59 am

    You are all too fucking fat and block the supermarket isles, take up more than your alloted share on planes and stink when you sweat.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lets ban all those horrible discriminatory stairs!

    That will show the evil capitalists.

    ReplyDelete