Disability and the Ableist’s Wall

With the recent passing of a close friend whose disability was central to his daily life, I seem to be leaning against walls. Let me clarify: they’re not visible walls. No, these are the walls of social containment. Let me further clarify: if you want to put someone “up against a wall” you must take for granted that the wall is either neutral or on your side. The obliging wall is a central truth when it comes to ableism.

You require medical care. You’re a wheelchair user. You’re shoved against the ableist’s obliging wall even though you’ve insurance. They push you against that wall and then you slip slowly out of your chair and onto the floor.

There are plenty of visible walls—the college auditorum with steps leading to the speaker’s platform. No disabled person would ever be a professor. There are conferences about disability where no effort is made to provide accommodations. My friend saw these things, endured them.

How they roll their eyes whe you point out their attitudinal walls. How they carry on about inconvenience and expense, as though designing things for human beings is a vast burden. (Making things accessible is often cheaper than making them inaccessible but the ableists are addi ted to their walls.)

Sometimes I think of ableism as being like an addiction to cigaettes. They know its bad for them but its such a daily ritual.

 

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