I have been hanging in Bellingham with my friend Corbett O’Toole, who raised a child with a disability and is disabled herself. We have had a spectacular time. We’ve seen a few sights, driven Chuckanut Drive, and enjoyed some fabulous meals – but the best part has been the chance to connect and talk about our experiences and how they intersect. I have been gifted with a sense of confidence about the next steps I need to take to support H’s development as he transitions to adulthood, and about my ability to support him in being his authentic self.
We’ve had frivolous moments, witty interludes, and deep conversations about a myriad of topics, from childhood development, to fear, to processing, to parenting, and activism in disability communities.
As Corbett was telling me about her hotel adventures on the first leg of her summer travels from San Fransisco to Bellingham, she shared that some of the access accommodations were less than helpful. She has been collecting pictures of signs and access issues and visually documenting some of the best and some of the worst. In her hotel, for instance, in a room that is supposed to accommodate someone who uses a wheelchair, they apparently assumed their patrons would have ability to levitate or to have telekinetic powers to psychically transport items through the time space continuum.
So, as a non-physically disabled person it was eye-opening to me, as is often the case when we come from the perspective of not needing a certain accommodation – or having issues of access. This has also been the case for me in with my interactions with Autistic people; it helped me understand the needs of those who might experience the world differently.
I was shaking my head in disbelief, and Corbett and I were both being sarcastic and rolling our eyes…
I said, “This is not access, this is crapcess”
…and thus the term crapcessibility was born…
Photo description: Corbett is sitting sideways to a very high sink (it’s at the height of her armpit) with her elbow on the top of the sink and a toothbrush in her hand. She is wearing a tshirt that says “Criptiques” (from the book). The text below the photo says: “Crapcessibility: pioneering a new trend… the armpit high sink…” In smaller text: “#crapcessibility” and “Thirty Days of Autism: Leah Kelley” (Image description by Corbett O’Toole)
Thank you, Corbett ♥
Your friendship, your fabulousness, your commitment to social justice, and your willingness to share your perspective and experience are very much appreciated.
You can explore Corbett’s collection of writing and body of work on her website at: www.corbettotoole.com
Corbett’s oral history can be found at: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/collections/drilm/collection/items/otoole.html.
30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.
© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism (2014)