Left Out

This is becoming ridiculous. Utterly. Ridiculous. I just read an email promoting a concert that should have filled me with longing to attend. Instead, when I saw the “no electronics and no talking” venue rule, I immediately thought, “Excuse me? Blind people might need talking to describe visual aspects of the show and we might need our electronics to get there or to read while we wait. Are you planning on banning books and newspapers too?”
It would seem that I cannot avoid noticing policies, procedures, and language that excludes disabled people. Everywhere I turn, everything I hear, the ways disabled people are excluded have suddenly become impossible to ignore.
Here are some that happened in less than 48 hours:
1. Everyone in the world is posting photos to Facebook without any descriptive tags. The latest craze is to “repost” those you like, again without descriptive tags..
2. My local radio station of choice is giving away Hawaiian vacations. To enter, you must input words into an inaccessible form on their website.
3. A musician who had to have seen me enter the tiny room as well as get up and use the restroom didn’t provide context for visual gestures etc in his patter.
4. A list of the “civil rights movements” of the recent past included everything except the disability rights and immigrant rights movements..
There has never been a time when I did not see such practices, but suddenly they have become commonplace. While it is conceivable that there has recently been an exponential increase, it seems more likely that I have somehow changed. Honestly, it would be great to change *me* back.
Noticing exclusionary practices when you are a part of the excluded group is upsetting. The most benign interpretation is that you never entered the mind or minds of those shaping the procedures. For a while, it is possible to believe that is exactly the situation. Over time, faith erodes and you begin to wonder how anyone can not consider disability with such persistence. The question running through your mind becomes, “Is this willful ignorance?” At your most skeptical, you contemplate global conspiracies to eliminate people like you from the human consciousness. After all, out of sight is typically out of mind and what can’t be seen can’t be disturbing.
When your perception of such circumstances increases, it is akin to constantly bumping your injured thumb on EVERYTHING. Metal ease is no longer possible.
This is in fact impacting my quality of life. Literally. I am trying to make peace with the continual bombardment. Perhaps if I assume I’m going to be left out I can find some sense of belonging. I am, at least, in good company.

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About Jen

After acquiring a degree from Vassar College in psychology, I moved to Western Mass where I ran a peer mentoring network for disabled college students as well as activism and organizing around disability issues. I also conducted research on disabled women’s body image. An Upstate New York native, I eventually followed my heliotropic nature to the sun of Southern California. I divide my time between writing (disability fiction and essays) along with moderating San Diego Bisexual Forum which is one of the oldest groups of its kind in the country. In my off hours I can often be found in my neighborhood live music venue enjoying our local talent.

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