I’m writing this post in the first week after my S.O. broke his foot and rendered himself temporarily disabled. Which reminds me: disability rights are human rights, because you will be disabled in some fashion at some point in your life, at least if you live long enough. Accessibility is important for this reason if for no other (it’s really important because people deserve to live lives of dignity no matter what body they inhabit, but we all know that self-interest is a big driver of human actions).
This is the second time my partner has broken a bone since we moved to our new house. Last time it was his arm, which was a pain but still allowed him to work. It’s amazing the difference that something which inhibits mobility has had on our quality of life. And it’s made me think a lot more about our built environment — the environment of our house, and how it’s set up, and the difficulties that folks using mobility assistance devices like wheelchairs, walkers, and, in our case, crutches face every day. Our house has a lot of stairs — stairs into the house, for one, and then stairs up to the bedrooms and down to the washer and dryer. The stairs are navigable but it takes the S.O. a lot longer to manage that navigation, and he can’t do it carrying things — which means I’m the person who has to do laundry, etc. We’ve had to shuffle our traditional chores around pretty significantly, and we’re still feeling out that balance and discovering what he can and can’t do.
The experience of navigating even a few days of this has been exhausting for both of us. Each time he gets up, my partner has to think through exactly what he wants and where he wants to go in a way that requires a lot of mental calculus. I can only imagine how much more difficult that would be in an unfamiliar environment. At least in the house he has a reasonable idea of where everything is and what hazards might impede his travels, but if he were in a less familiar environment he wouldn’t even be able to plan around that. Of course, the importance of having good public design for access for folks with mobility issues is not a new thing, and it’s something disabled folks have been advocating for for decades. Outside of the hospital, most public spaces are not well designed in this way — even when they meet the minimum requirements of ADA regulations.
So, in honor of this new experience in our lives, I’d like to make a request. Comment below with your favorite book by a disabled author or featuring a disabled protagonist. Bonus points for narratives exploring mobility issues. Non-fiction is also welcome. I obviously have some self-education to do, and I feel like this is a great opportunity to learn.
Until next week!