Who Is the Choir?

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela 

What does it mean when someone says “you’re talking to the choir”?.  Lately when the conversation turns to access I get a lot of “it’s alright you are talking to the choir” comments until I ask them something like:

Me – “Okay where could I send a family who want their 17 year old son with Cerebral Palsy to learn to drive.  They can’t find drivers program with a hand-control vehicle.  Where would you suggest I send them?”

Choir – “Well I thought you were talking about access. Learning to drive has nothing to do with access”

Me – “I am talking access and it’s relationship to driving is access to service.  The need to access service is the backbone of an inclusive community.  Everything else, ramps, hand-controls, beeping crosswalks, etc are tools to meet an objective and that objective is access.”

Choir –  “Oh I thought you meant getting those buildings ramped properly and some accessible housing.”

Me – “Well that’s part of access.  I’m much more interested in accessing the services in the building.  As an example, ramping a library makes little difference to a visually impaired persons access, so why do we consider it accessible once a ramp is there?  A ramp is merely one tool that can be used for access but that tool isn’t the whole process.  There is a wide range of life requirements to live independently and by recognizing access as an attitude it is much easier to plan for an inclusive community.”

Is that really talking to the choir?  Access is a very complicated subject that has been watered down over the years by dividing the audience.  To me access is a thought process and needs to be incorporated into every step of a process.Continue reading “Who Is the Choir?”