I was reading an article on line about a new tourist attraction in NYC that I’d like to go to see. As is typical, the reviewer never mentioned any form of accessibility.
I know, I know, I know, it wasn’t published on a disability blog, but it was a piece that was meant to inspire tourists to go.
I made a comment stating that when a journalist reviews a venue, or show, or restaurant, there should be an expectation that they are writing for the whole of their readership and that a mention about wheelchair accessibility would be nice.
I received almost an immediate reply, “Call the venue.”
Shortly later, “Yes, call the venue.”
But the writers of these comments don’t acknowledge that they don’t have to. They don’t ever have to think about whether or not they can get in. They don’t see this as privilege but it is – to know that you will always automatically be given entry and given bathrooms you can use, is privilege. They are telling me that, even though the journalist could have written two lines about accessibility, I was going to have to track that information down. I was going to have to talk to some employee who isn’t really sure what accessibility means and it takes so much time.
The suggestion to call the venue is kind of a way of saying ‘shut up’ and it’s kind of a way of saying that my issue of entrance isn’t worthy of a mention in an article. It’s also a way of saying, ‘don’t be so lazy.’ Disabled people have unlimited stores of energy and of time and of course we can spend that time waiting on hold to find out if we can get in and if we can pee in a venue.
Did the two people who left these comments think they were being helpful? That I had never thought about simply calling the venue? Were they seriously thinking that I would smack my head and say, ‘of course, call the venue, freaking brilliant?’
I wrote the comment for the publication and for the author, I wanted them to think about it. I knew I’d get other comments but … ‘call the venue’ … as a comment tells me that they have no idea about how easy it is for them, and how much work that simple suggestion turns out to be.
And by the way, if I can’t find accessibility on a restaurant ad, I don’t go. If I can’t find it on the ad for a show, I don’t go. If they’ve put in a ramp but don’t want me to know about it … welcome is always chilly. So screw it.