Accessibility vs Ableism

Accessibility vs Ableism

What is accessibility in public? I’m headed to Target with my family and we’re shopping for clothes for the little ones. Handicapped parking? Yes, we found a space. My wife is wearing the new peanut in a wrap. Big girl Tater tot is secured in my lap.  Bella is lost in her own world listening to the Biebs on her iPod, because parents suck, holding mom’s hand as we make our make our way to the door through the most dangerous parking lot known to man. Curb ramp. Check, we have succeeded in entering hell.

Let me start by saying the interior of Target is not accessible to tiny contortionists, AB people, let alone wheelchair users. This is a chain that believes no one should purchase anything unless it is directly on the edge of the aisle. We’re going to start with Tay’s clothes first, because omgosh it’s Hello Kitty! Do you see it daddy? I must have all that sparkles! Now that’s she’s recently turned 6 she has turned full blown diva princess. I am sure her pet rabbits appreciate her efforts to look fabulous at all times. The Hello Kitty rack is 3 rows back into the little girls department. There is no way my wheelchair is getting through this without suffering another TBI or being blinded by hangers. I set the little monster free and trade the wife for the baby while they pick clothing. I watch as my 84 pound wife is forced to turn sideways to maneuver between the racks, because they are that tightly packed in this space. Why does this store have carts when you can’t fit them into the spaces? Clothes have been picked and it’s time to move onto the baby department.

I love the fact that my daughters have their own style and are polar opposites. We allow them to choose their own clothing whether it’s frilly tutus or superhero t-shirts. Obviously the baby doesn’t have any opinion yet, other than things she likes to chew on them to help those teeth come through her gums. I see some cute outfits that I point out to the wife. This is where I become frustrated. I can not buy my own child clothing because it can’t be reached. Once again I begin to question my ability to parent when I am unable to provide their basic needs. I understand the need for variety, but come on people. It’s one store and how many options do you need? Thin it out so that it’s accessible.

This is where I see the ableism conversation come into play. WTH are you talking about? Stores are not trying to purposely keep us from shopping. They are cramming as much crap as possible into the available space. What they need to do is thin out the inventory until larger stores are built to handle the merchandise and have room for people to reach it. These places are not comfortable for even the thinnest of people “without mobility issues”. If a very large obese person can fit then so can a standard wheelchair. I don’t hear obese people of the world screaming stores promote eating disorders because they can’t shop comfortably. These larger stores are going to require more space. They are going to cost a lot to build. It’s going to take time. Prices are going to be raised to make up the lost revenue. This will lead to more complaints, because consumers can’t afford to spend more. A lot of the changes we need are simple. We need to petition stores to thin the inventory until these changes are made. Overly packed stores are not a form of oppression. It’s supply and demand. We don’t want to give up anything and we demand change now. Where does the conversation go from here? If those capitalists didn’t care about making so much money we wouldn’t have this issue. Those capitalists supply us with employment. They provide us with needed supplies. They took the time, energy, and dedication to build their businesses. We need change to make things accessible. These are not ableism issues. These are entitlement and I-demand-that-you-build-the-world-around-me issues. It’s not only about those of us with mobility issues. There should be equality for all. Who is fighting for price tags printed in Braille? I don’t need a world built for me. I want to be able to access places and provide for my children without the assistance of someone else. That is accessibility.  

1 reply
  1. Stacy Pottorff
    Stacy Pottorff says:

    Great article, and I can so relate, until the last paragraph. The message isn’t real clear.

    As for shopping, almost all racks are on wheels and I have zero problem shoving them out of the way so my son can get through in his chair. I’ve only had a couple employees say something to me and I’ve told them I would welcome the manager coming to see me regarding the lack of accessibility. It quickly ended the issue.

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