Did someone declare this week as National Disability Access Advocacy week without telling me?
First I had to advocate for a podium at ground level for a meeting I was part of instead of having to go up on a portable stage with little steps and no handrails. As I pointed out, this was not just for my benefit but also for ladies wearing high heels, elderly who don’t see and/or walk too well, etc. The only way I got action was to kick it up to the level of the funders of the event.
Next I had to advocate for work arounds for preparing background materials for a workshop I’ll be part of that would work for a co-presenter who has a hidden disability that they are not disclosing. At the end of the week I had a church retreat with a study book we had struggled hard to get ahead of time on CDs. The access issues at the retreat included extra printed materials that I didn’t have, so I couldn’t sing, pray or read aloud as others did and the usual daily human-human interactions about would you help me through the lunch line? Are there any seats at a table with other people before you dump me at a table by myself? I’d give my advocacy on the fly skills about a “B”, but in one instance the holy spirit whispered the perfect comment to me and I used it to good effect—we all got to laugh together.
Near the beginning of the retreat, we’d been asked to pick a rock and write on it with some kind of marker what we wanted out of the retreat. I picked my rock but didn’t ask someone to write on it because I couldn’t read it and why should I? At the end of the retreat we picked our rocks back up and read them aloud. I found mine and said I had written on it in invisible ink, only visible to truly holy people. Trying hard to live out the call to make peace, I emailed a group I’m part of that had unthinkingly excluded me from a group activity suggesting a more inclusive way next time.
Wouldn’t you know it; I also got the perfect background material to read for this week in my email halfway through the week. Terri Mauro blogs about children with disabilities, parenting issues, advocacy, etc. Her excellent article is at http://specialchildren.about.com/od/ieps/ss/What-Kind-Of-Advocate-Are-You.htm, and the quiz that goes with it is at http://specialchildren.about.com/library/advocacyquiz/bladvocacyquiz.htm. Of course I found a bit of myself in all the styles: Avoidant, Apprehensive, Accommodating, Assertive, and Aggressive. These advocacy opportunities never come in a vacuum. The week was full of the usual, guest lecturing, spring vet check-up for Luna, and trying to sneak in time to read Divergent which I’m really enjoying. Life is so daily!
As I look forward to next week, lines from two songs are running through my head: “When will they ever learn?” from Peter Paul and Mary’s song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Hard Times Come Again No More” from a song by that name by Stephen Foster. What’ll it be? Stay tuned.