Why Accessibility Matters At Marches

Editor's Note

This story reflects an individual’s experience and is not an endorsement from The Mighty. We believe in sharing a variety of perspectives from our community.

You may have noticed, especially in the past few years, that rallies, marches, and protests are becoming more and more common all across the nation. And that’s awesome! Saturday was the March for Our Lives, which was absolutely beautiful. Gun violence is a big issue in our country, and it was amazing to see so many folks, young and old, coming together to stand for what they believe (though we need to have some long conversations about what this means for people with mental illnesses and how screenings are to be handled, but that’s another conversation for another time). I wanted to be at my local rally, but I was having a crummy day and was laid up all afternoon with a raging migraine.

Last year I got to go to the March for Science in Hartford, which was an incredible event! There was the Women’s March in D.C. We had a local rally last year after Charlottesville. And a lot of others in between. These are all so amazing! But accessibility at these events is often subpar, or even non-existent, overlooked because the event isn’t focused on disability rights. Like… I hear ya, but here’s the deal. Literally all issues intersect disability. We are the largest minority — we’re 20 percent of you! Excluding us from events, even unintentionally, keeps a huge swath of folks from being heard. Plus, disabled folks are statistically more likely to be the victims of things like abuse, gun violence, and life-threatening effects of climate change than our abled counterparts. We need to have our voices heard, our witty signs read, our numbers counted.

Inaccessibility can be a lot of things, from impassable terrain for those who use a wheelchair or struggle with stability, to locations that don’t have disability accessible bathrooms, to having speakers without ASL interpreters, and so much more. As I’ve said about 1,000 times by now, “at some point inaccessibility becomes willful exclusion and discrimination.” So when you’re putting together your next rally or march for an amazing cause, please don’t forget us. Doing good that blatantly excludes disabled people isn’t really so fantastic. It’s actually kinda garbage! Make your events accessible. It’s totally doable. We are deserving of having our voices heard. We are a vital, beautiful and equally important piece of the societal puzzle. Let us be by your side, as you are by ours, and together we can affect change for all, not just for the privileged.

This story originally appeared on WorkShark.

Getty image by Awakened Eye.

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