Tuesday, May 7, 2019

What does inaccessibility mean to disabled people? A hashtag goes viral

Back in March, writer/activist/podcaster (The Accessible Stall)/generally awesome human Emily Ladau started the hashtag #InaccessibilityMeans on Twitter. As she put it, "I'm excited to see my hashtag taking off but it also means that the world has some serious work to do to make it a more accessible, inclusive, accepting place for disabled people to live."

These are just some of the stories and photos people have posted:

#InaccessibilityMeans having to make choices: (a) Go to the THING (cafe, dinner gathering, networking, movie, board meeting, work lunch or anything to do w/ communication) and deal with ppl's frustration & awkwardness coz I can't hear/see/participate OR (b) Decline.—@ellenffb

#InaccessibilityMeans giving your presentation from the floor because you can't get up on the stage.—@Naranjadia

#InaccessibilityMeans that at my uncle's funeral I had to be taken down the hand-cranked, open-sided platform lift they used for coffins to get to the repast downstairs.—@MissJupiter1957

So angry at Yellow Cab Co. at Orlando Airport. My friend is traveling there with her service dog and she just sent me these text messages. Don't tell me #disability #discrimination isn't real. #InaccessibilityMeans #EverydayAbleism—@ConnConnection

#InaccessibilityMeans disabled people are far too often sent to side entrances, back entrances, and locked doors because they can't get in the front like everyone else. It means we enter places through sketchy alleys, freight elevators, and trash storage.—@emily_ladau

#InaccessibilityMeans not being able to go to the bathroom. I'm an ambulatory wheelchair user, but I don't feel stable walking in unfamiliar places. I was faced with the choice to shout my bathroom needs across the table to ask someone to help me or leave. I chose to leave.—@spazgirl11

#InaccessibilityMeans having to leave schools or colleges you wanted to go to. #WhyDisabledPeopleDropout. How common is this?! I felt like the only one and then ever since I started talking about this it seems a lot of people had to leave a campus for lack of access.

#InaccessibilityMeans means the @cta in Chicago not making ALL its el stops ADA complaint 27 years after the passage of the ADA. And don't get me started on the @MTA when I last visited NYC almost two years ago.—@LauraDurnell

#InaccessibilityMeans This sign at all elevators, telling disabled people that there is no plan for us if there's a fire. We are, I gather, expected to die quietly. This is legal.—@Cissyvoo

#InaccessibilityMeans broken friendships, because even after the umpteenth time telling your friends your accessibility needs, they'll say you're being too sensitive/demanding and decide to invite you to less and less.—@Imani_Barbarin

#InaccessibilityMeans being super hungry. But the meal is a buffet and you don't want to be a bother so you tell the other people the reason your not eating is that your not hungry. Really you can't eat safely and without mess carry your own food.—@Blemi

#InaccessibilityMeans having to announce yourself everywhere you go. Hi I'm here and I need an accessible entrance. Hi I'm here and I can't reach the tables. Hi I'm here and the aisles are too narrow. Always having to make someone aware that I'm there.—@hmkerstetter

So easy to cross the #rueducolisee #paris when a bicycle is on the floor in the middle of my way! #InaccesibilityMeans–@Stephanie_HRNews

#InaccessibilityMeans not getting groceries/household supplies/what I need because there is rarely enough disabled parking.—@itsonlymari

#InaccessibilityMeans getting asked to volunteer my time to consult (without pay) & legitimize disability projects that non-disabled people are getting paid to oversee. This form of labor abuse makes equal employment opportunity inaccessible.—@S_daVanport

#InaccessibilityMeans living in a world not built for you, where your needs are either an afterthought or not thought of at all.—@MikeeMort

As the parent of a child with disabilities, I couldn't know exactly how frustrating and maddening it can be to struggle to satisfy basic human needs—I'm there to watch over Max and make sure he is cared for. But I do know what it's like to have a child who at times has not been treated with equality and who has faced blatant discrimination. Some of the situations our family has contended with over the years:

—#InaccessibilityMeans your child can't enjoy the playground because there are no swings that give him the support he needs or adaptive jungle gyms.
—#InaccessibilityMeans a camp flat-out refusing to let your child attend because he needs help with life skills—even if he has an aide.
#InacessibilityMeans your place of worship has no programming for children with sensory needs or intellectual disability.
—#InaccessibilityMeans having to carry your child into an auditorium/onto rides at a park/on a hiking trail/wherever because there is no other way for him to attend an event or enjoy an activity.
—#InaccessibilityMeans events at the school your child attends have no snacks he can eat because they are all hard, crunchy foods like potato chips or choking hazards like popcorn.
—#InaccessibilityMeans a program that refuses to admit your child because he needs a hand with toileting.
—#InaccessibilityMeans going to a birthday party at a gym or art studio where your child can only participate if you carry him around or help him hold the paint brush.

I'll be tweeting some of these today. Share here and please tweet, too. The more awareness we raise about the everyday rights and basic needs that people with disabilities are denied, the better.

What does inaccessibility mean to you? 

Image: Twitter/Stephanie_HRNews


  1. As someone with a disability I both don't expect everything to be perfect and also understand that I can be much more flexible in my expectations than some peopke because I can still walk even if I use a wheelchair or cane most of the time.

    There have been times I've just had to plop my butt down and scoot up stairs or felt super awkward because the store decided to use the accessible dressing room as storage and now they don't understand why I need the bench in the accessible dressing room cleared off. There are some barriers that are much harder to remove-steps in a historic building for example but it's sad when people and places create barriers that have no reason to exist. When I worked at a disability focused organization I kept having to explain to volunteers why they could not put the large sign in the middle of the path frequently used by clients with wheelchairs, mobility devices, and young children. It was literally a matter of moving the sign one foot backwards but no one thought about how the sign was obstructing the very people the organization was meant to serve.

    On the other hand I recently had a lovely experience with a group who was holding a meeting. I asked about accessibility and found they had not considered if the meeting place was accedsible. The organizers felt horrible and thanked me for bringing it to their attention because they didn't want anyone excluded. They contancted a local church to arrange to use their parking lot so I could park right by the building and not have to walk far. They went and checked out the building to see what the entrances were like and offered to have someone waiting for me to make sure I got in safely and would provide physical help getting me in if need be. Then they thanked me again and told me how important it was to them that people not be exluded. I got a follow up email before the meeting checking in and updating me on the building. Was this perfect? No. But it was so refreshing to encounter that situation and have the response me "Oh my gosh we are so sorry we didn't consider this, let's do whatever we can to make it right". I wasn't treated like a bother and I understand that this particular group operates on a minimal budget and their first thought was finding a free, confidential meeting place that also met certain other criteria. I am hopeful in the future that accessibility will be a major criteria for them as well now that we've had some conversations about it.

  2. #inaccessibilityMeans systemic discrimination against disabled Canadians who have been discriminated against under the Canadian Federal Transportation umbrella.
    An abled bodied Canadian can file the discrimination complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission however disabled people are denied this and are forced to go through the Canadian Transportation Agency. Only when the disabled person has exhausted the Canadian Transportation Agency can they approach the Canadian Human Rights Commission, however that does not mean that they will allow or take on the case.
    The Canadian Transport Agency does not handle discrimination in the same manner as the Canadian Human Rights Commission they call it an undue obstacle, and there is no compansation such as there is within the Canadian Human Rights Commission. When I addressed this with the Canadian Human Rights Commission I was told the following, "Yes, we know this is happening however it is up to Parliament to change this."
    Nothing has changed, and this discriminatory law is still in place.

  3. #inaccessibilityMeans Being kicked out of groups for being "annoying" while other people's bad behavior is thought to be "brave"


Thanks for sharing!

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