A More Accessible World
I never realized how inaccessible our world truly was until I became a mom.
I was CLUELESS. Blissfully unaware of the many struggles that individuals with disabilities face, I ignorantly took much for granted. I had no idea of the frustrations and injustices that people all around me were up against daily. Sadly, I just didn’t see it…until it was placed right in front of me.
Exclusion. “The act of not allowing someone or something to take part in an activity or to enter a place” is all too common in our society. When we exclude, whether intentionally or not, we are letting valuable members of our communities down. In leaving them out, we all miss out.
It’s unfair and we can do better. We must do better. This notion that was once a distant idea to me is now in the forefront of my mind. I see it every day. As a mom, and an advocate for my children, I’m driven to push for change; I am compelled to be loud about making ours a more accessible world.
When we deny individuals the ability to safely exit a vehicle or when we fail to provide access to bathrooms designed to accommodate the needs of ALL people, we are actively excluding. These are just two instances that I’ve encountered this week, with my daughter, who has multiple disabilities.
When buildings lack the means for wheelchair users to enter, and recreational activities are not adapted to welcome children with autism, we are not being inclusive.
Physical and social barriers standing in the way must be torn down.
Schools and other community establishments have come a long way; but not quite far enough.
Thankfully, as more people are raising their voices, the world is starting to listen.
Retail stores and movie theatres are offering limited “sensory friendly” hours and showtimes.
Dance classes and theatre programs for children of all abilities are being skillfully created.
Inclusive playgrounds and parks are being built in some areas to provide equal opportunities for ALL to play.
Polling places have implemented practices to eliminate many hurdles of the voting process.
All these things should be commonplace, not rare exceptions.
I am grateful to see conscious efforts being made to include, but there are still miles to go. Adaptive equipment for children with motor, mobility, communication, hearing, and vision challenges exists. However, parents often must battle intensively with schools and insurance companies to acquire it. To make room for all people, we have to provide proper accommodations for them.
Parents and caregivers make the best advocates. We’ve learned to stand up to school administrators with firmness and decorum. We’ve become informed and we demand more from our lawmakers. We see first-hand, and close-up how badly things need to change. We can be the catalysts; we can use our voices to speak up for others.
As communities, if we all work a little harder, dig a little deeper, and view the world through eyes of compassion, kindness and equality, more progress can be made. Walls will continue to come down and the world can be more accessible to all the ones we love.