The disability community talks a lot about the need for accessible spaces. Often this is referring to parking or over all accessibility of public spaces. These are things that definitely need to be addressed. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that there is another kind of accessible space that is just as important to me.
As I’ve grown into my disability identity over the years I’ve gotten a better understanding of how being disabled informs my life. I’ve also realized that I gravitate toward relationships that are accessible. By that I mean relationships and interactions where I’m comfortable enough to share necessary aspects of my disability, where I’m able to not worry about how something related to my disability will be taken or understood. I tend to seek out these occurrences over others that don’t allow me the same freedoms.
This doesn’t extend only to disability as it pertains to me though. Accessible people or relationships share thought processes and opinions about disability and the disability community that aren’t always shared widely by the rest of the world. These are ideas such as equality and a society free of the infantilization and dehumanization of disabled people. It is unexplainable how comforting it is knowing that a group that you’re having a conversation with, at least on some level, understands and agrees with your thought process.
This doesn’t always have to mean other disabled people either. Very often non disabled allies can offer just as much of an accessible space. Hopefully they even share the same opinions and stances about disability, though obviously not informed from being disabled themselves. In this way they can be as much of a support as other accessible relationships.
I hope I’m not coming off anti non disabled in any way. That’s not my intention at all. I’ve just been thinking for a while now about the relationships I have with people that feel completely accessible to me, where I can just be me, disability and all. Those relationships are so important to me. As I think they are for a lot of disabled people.
Unfortunately I’m all too aware that part of the need for these accessible spaces is that the rest of the world isn’t as welcoming or accepting. I’m also aware that we’re probably a very long way from that point. But that makes it all the more important for these spaces, these relationships, to exist. Maybe they’re what will lead to the rest of the world seeing disability differently.