“With Rights comes Responsibilities”
Two stories grabbed my attention this week that I really need to speak out on. The first was that unfortunate event in that Quebec restaurant. Did the police go to far in arresting the server? Initially I would have said yes until after watching some Facebook chatter. I was also hearing from other disability activists looking for a point of view. These are peers, each with a minimum of 45 years experience living with a disability plus a long history of activism.
We have spend the better part of our life’s fighting for access based on the disabled profile of the day. However the face of disability looks very different today than it did in 1980. The complexity of disabilities has grown in the past 40 years and our thinking has been slow to catch up. In todays society we have to look at an inclusive community rather than just an accessible one.
The 70’s and 80’s set the table for “physical” access almost tying the concept of access to the build environment. Today we confuse an accessible community with an “inclusive” community. Two very different concepts requiring two different ways of thinking, access is about an “assumed” responsibility (building code as a concrete example) while inclusion requires a level of “shared” responsibility (which could be represented as the “intent” of the building code).
An inclusive society is about interdependence rather than independence. Inclusive thinking would require the server to maintain a level of responsibility in dealing with a customer who had explained a life threatening allergy. My experience has been if there are no consequences for the lack of responsibility than why should anyone ever have to be responsible.
The consequences for Simon involved three days in a coma and that was the result, in part, because someone ignored their responsibility in this little interaction. If a doctor had caused this there would have been consequences. If societal expectations are that an inattentive server can abandon their workplace responsibility but a doctor cannot then that is elitism not inclusion?