Monday, September 28, 2015

Everyone is capable of learning

Everyone is capable of learning.

This doesn't feel like a radical statement. It doesn't feel like one that needs to be made, or one that should need to be made. It also feels like one that needs to be repeated over and over again.

Everyone is capable of learning.

This means that people need to be given that chance. They need to be given the chance to challenge themselves. They need to be given the chance to make mistakes, and the chance to recognize that the mistakes were mistakes. They need to be given new information and the chance to get an education.

If we don't give people these, we are saying is that they cannot learn. We are saying that they are not capable of doing something as basic as increase what they know and improve. We are saying, not only that they do not know something now - which is okay, nobody knows everything - but that they cannot gain knowledge and skills; cannot find ways to adapt, cannot do things different than they do things now.

People change. People grow. If we do not give people the ability to grow, if we take that away, then what are we saying about them? How many ways are we saying they are wrong, lesser, incapable?

If someone is nonspeaking, they can still learn. If someone needs a 24 hour support staff, they do still learn. If someone looks different, it doesn't take away this capability.

What takes it away, isn't themselves, it is others. It is others saying "you are not capable". It is others not teaching. It is others preventing people from ever making a mistake. It is others preventing people from recognizing when a mistake is made, not allowing them to recognize, learn, and grow.

We need to presume competence, and this isn't only when it is convenient. It isn't only when it is presuming that people can communicate. It isn't only presuming things that are easy for us. We also need to presume that people can make choices, that people can make mistakes, that people can learn from these mistakes, and people can learn in general. If we take that away, we take away far, far too much.

Everyone is capable of learning. Do not take that away.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Accessible doesn't include me

I don't have a choice of always watching, always being on alert. I don't have the choice of always making myself aware of everything going on around me, no matter how many spoons it is costing.

I don't have a choice, except to be on high alert, or to find one of few close people who will watch out for me, warn me, and take on the burden, exhausting themselves in order to make an experience easier for me. Only in those situations, can I let my guard down, letting myself down to low alert, and even then, I must pay attention always.

I don't have a choice, for things happen fast, and I need to react. If I don't, I am the one paying for what others are doing. I am the one spending days in pain, losing the ability to do things as simple as eat or sleep, see or balance enough to take a step forward. I am the one thrown into pain as my brain breaks into migraine day after day, because of what happens around me. I am the one who has to try to keep myself safe, because I cannot trust that I will be safe in the migraine, cannot trust others will help, and cannot trust that others will do a thing to prevent the migraine from setting in.

It doesn't matter how accessible a place is. Accessibility doesn't mean me. It doesn't mean someone for whom the smell of perfume will near instantly change whether or not they can be in a space. It doesn't mean someone for whom someone sitting next to them after smoking, is a way to question chance only about how bad the migraine gets based on how fast they escape, not even a question of whether it occurs.

It doesn't mean someone for whom the lighting, the sounds, every one of those things, are more ways to chance what is going to happen. More ways that already affect what is going on, how well they can speak, or recognize faces, or navigate space.

Accessibility doesn't mean including someone for whom you need to control the environment. We have to take care of ourselves. We have to watch out and protect ourselves.

I'm lucky this isn't life or death for me. Other people are not, and can literally die because of the accessibility challenges that I see every time I go anywhere. (I'm so glad I don't have seizures.) In either case, accessibility should not be limited to ramps and CART. Accessibility should include me even though it isn't life or death. It should include people for whom it IS life or death for. But in both cases, if the environment matters, it doesn't.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I wish you'd hear me

If I say these words, will you listen.
Or will you hear what you expect.
Will my words get lost in a sea of sound?

Does your selective hearing work among ideas too?
As it does the sounds in the world around us?
Do you get to hear what you choose, blocking the rest out?

I wish I could show you. Maybe then you'd understand
The ticking of the clock
The humming of the fan
They jam me up, they block my thoughts, my decisions, my ideas from traveling
Anywhere at all
While you deaden your senses to the world

I wish you'd see. The closing in. Darkness.
Or the narrowing confusion of not knowing what is around.
Not being able to rely on whether something is truly there or not.
Not knowing how far it is.
Or even knowing that there is so much more vision out there than you currently understand.

I wish you'd believe me. The pain. The blankness. The not knowing who or what you are.
The not knowing what will happen this time. Will I be able to see? Speak? Walk?
Always planning. Always ready.
Never being enough.
The struggle of someone who at any moment might Stop.
Their motor cortex having been taken over by the migraine spreading through.

I wish there was a way that would be enough
But more, I wish you'd believe
And that there might be at least one safe place.

I wish, that maybe my senses were listened to
By someone not me