Accessibility is a Human Right

by | Accessibility

I am no longer apologizing. I am also not thanking anyone.⠀

My son and I occupy a lot of space when we’re out and about. That’s because we have to. And, that’s OK.⠀

When we go to the rehabilitation center, I apologize for having to stop several times during the appointment to tend to my little man’s physical needs. I also thank the team profusely afterwards for waiting patiently for us.⠀

When I change him in an inaccessible space, I thank the therapist for giving me a helping hand. I apologize for taking so long.⠀

When we get into the elevator, I thank everyone for moving over and making space for us. I apologize for taking up so much room.⠀

When someone holds the doors for us, I thank them in a sequence of three earnest “thank yous”: once for thinking about helping us, the second time for holding the door, and then a final time as an apology for the inconvenience.⠀

When I over-thank and apologize, I imply we are a burden and that their actions are charitable.⠀

Waiting for others, offering and accepting a helping hand, shuffling over in an elevator, holding the door for others are acts of daily life. Our natural response is to courteously nod and murmur a “thank you” and not make it a big production. This is how it should be when I’m out with my son.

I no longer apologize for our presence.⠀

In education, we do the same. Parents tiptoe around asking for what our children deserve and then thank the educators. Educators apologize for requesting what our students need and then thank the administration.⠀

Accessibility is a human right. It does not beg, nor does it demand gratitude. ⠀

We wouldn’t feel the need to thank and apologize if the world were accessible, to begin with.⠀

My son commands space in this world just like we all do. He has a right to be here and occupy the space he needs and wants. No apologies are necessary. ⠀


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