05 Aug Monthly Reading List – July Reading List
What’s your July Reading List? Here’s ours.
Every first week of the month, Disabled Spectator publishes a reading list of our favorite disability and accessibility related articles. We look for insightful, interesting, controversial, heartbreaking, well-written, or enjoyable articles that provoke thought, conversation, and emotion. This post looks at articles we read in July. Accordingly, here is our July Reading List.
What It Says To My Daughter When Lawmakers Treat Accessibility As An Afterthought, by Elena Hung, HuffPost
Elena Hung discusses what accessibility means for her and her family. Her daughter Xiomara has a chronic lung disease. Before they go to any public establishment, Elena has to research whether or not they are accessible. That means making phone calls, looking up pictures online, and even making a visit before bringing the whole family. Even then, that isn’t always enough. Recently, the Hung family was given a trip by the Make-A-Wish-Foundation to an accessible vacation resort in Florida. The trip was a dream, and for Xiomara, it was the first time on an airplane. Upon their return, they read about H.R. 620 – a bill passed in the House that puts the onus on people with disabilities to make businesses comply with ADA laws, rather than businesses having the onus on themselves. This is a problem, and to Elena and her family, it shows that accessibility and people with disabilities are an afterthought.
Just leaving the house with Xiomara requires hours of preparation. For local businesses that we haven’t visited before, I need to call and ask if they are accessible — really accessible, because “only a few steps” is not accessible.
Instead of placing the onus on businesses to proactively ensure equal access to public spaces, it would require individuals to notify businesses with specific statute violations and then wait for up to six months to see if business owners make “substantial progress” toward addressing the violations. That is six months that people with disabilities must wait to access a public space.
At the end of the day, accessibility is more than ramps, elevators, parking spots and bathrooms; accessibility is about community inclusion and basic human decency. Accessibility is about telling people of all abilities ― including my daughter and her friends ― that they matter and that they have a place in this world.
Here’s Why The Plastic Straw Ban Might Not Be As Great As You Think, by Kimberly Truong, Refinery29
The plastic straw ban has been a controversial topic for a few months. While the intentions are good, the ramifications are bad and action has been taken without the voice of people with disabilities. Plastic straws are bad for the environment, however, they are very necessary for people with disabilities. This article looks at the reasons why plastic straws are important for people with disabilities, as well as how come alternatives like paper straws do not suffice.
Amy Scherer, a staff attorney at the National Disability Rights Network, says that a plastic straw allows people with disabilities to drink a beverage without having to rely on other people for assistance.
“Most paper and silicone alternatives are not flexible, and this is an important feature for people with mobility related impairments,” he continued. “Metal, glass, and bamboo straws present obvious dangers for people who have difficulty controlling their bite, as well as those with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s.”
“The component that was missing – at least in most cases – as the straw ban discussion picked up steam is the perspective of people with disabilities,” Scherer says. “The plastic straw ban looks like such an excellent idea on paper, but decisions were seemingly made before potentially negative consequences were considered. It would have been more helpful to have the disability perspective involved and represented in the discussion from the start.”
Americans Are Finally Waking Up About Ableism, by Rachel Hoge, HuffPost
Rachel Hoge looks at ways the US is starting to wake up to ableism. Increased discourse about disability issues and representation in television and movies as played a large role. Activism has become more visible, as well. There is still much work to be done and Rachel discusses other things we can do to fight ableism. Some ideas include watching the way we talk to people with disabilities – avoid patronization. We can also become allies by including them in more discourse – the plastic straw ban would have been an excellent opportunity. With some more work, ableism could be on the decline.
Perhaps prompted by the gross disrespect and erasure by our nation’s new political leadership, it seems we are currently in “a new wave of activism by disabled Americans who want to change the way disability is viewed in the U.S.,” according to Time.
The first thing able-bodied people can do to become an ally of this movement is to examine how they interact with the disabled population.
How disabled travellers finally stopped being ignored – thanks to a company you might not expect, by Emily Rose Yates, the Telegraph
Airbnb recently acquired accessibility travel app – Accomable. With the acquisition, Airbnb has been able to add better accessibility filters allowing people with disabilities to better search for accommodations that suit them. Emily Rose Yates discusses her experience using the new features – including an exciting one that allows you to also find accessible activities in the area.
But this year has marked a real change for those of us with access requirements with the introduction of Airbnb’s new accessibility filters and features.
On a recent trip to London, though, I tried out Airbnb’s new accessibility filters for listings, and was able to submit my requirements for step-free access, wide doorways, a fully equipped accessible bathroom with roll-in shower and grab rails, and even a disabled parking spot and hoist availability.
Accessibility improvements don’t just stop with listings, either. Guests now can book onto more than a thousand cooking classes, tours or art workshops with knowledgeable hosts all over Britain – and these, the company told me, incorporate accessibility as standard.
Disability sport: ‘Lack of basics’ stops people taking part, by Kate Morgan, BBC News
According to a study commissioned by Sports Wales, lack of accessible equipment prevents people with disabilities from taking part in sports. Not all gyms are accessible, and the right kind of equipment is not available. Participants of the study argue that it’s not that they want to become Paralympians, they simply want to be able to take part. Other issues include lack of accessible changing rooms, restrooms, and the cost of joining different gyms. According to Sports Wales, more collaboration is needed to create equal opportunity.
“There should be definitely more sports and facilities out there for people with disabilities, because society only focuses on the able bodied people and that’s not on,” he added.
“I don’t want to be the next Paralympian, I just want to ride a bike like everybody else,” he said.
It showed “access to sport by disabled children and adults is perceived to be very patchy in many areas and across many sports… with accessible changing rooms and direct access to the sporting facility often lacking”.
Thanks for reading our July Reading List. Keep an eye out for our list next month. You can read last month’s reading list here.