Wednesday, 16 April 2008

community disability

so i'll start with a definition: what does 'community' even mean? I do like defining things on this blog, and i can't help thinking this word needs a definition. so off to google it and see what happens, and then i will give you my thoughts.

google tells me: "a group of people living in a particular local area; 'the team is drawn from all parts of the community' " this definition is probably best, for the purposes of this blog. I'm not going to sit and fuss over it's otherwise impossible definitions, as that's waaay to sociology for this blog, and people will fall asleep.

Now when i hear 'community' i hear it as a positive word - it was used all day long by our ex PM, he LOVED it. 'doing things for the community' and all that. but then i started thinking, who's in and who's out? who is in a community, and benefits from the things that are done 'for the community' ?

I'll try and clarify my little irks: the other day at work, we were building a board walk, and i took some YP along to do their community service. in the pre-work talk, it was explained that people would use this, and it was something nice for the local community. one of the kids then asked 'but what about people in wheelchairs?' - well obviously, they can't use it, the walk is only accessible by stairs.

without wanting to undermine the cool work that people do for the community, it struck me at that point that by 'the community' they mean 'the community of able bodied people'

this got me on to thinking, how much other stuff done 'for the community' is done whilst excluding some parts of the community? there was no sign up saying 'no disabled people allowed' but then, there didn't need to be. they are excluded with no apology, no thought, no worries. it's just something that's not for them. i felt ashamed, ashamed that it took a child to raise that question and to care about it, when there were plenty of adults present who should know better? i noticed the problem, and said nothing. i didn't want to offend. maybe i need to start offending? that's not a maybe actually, i do need to start.

i wouldn't want to start telling people what to do and what to think, but i see no harm in calling it what it is, at least just to MAKE PEOPLE CONSIDER how they might be excluding people before they start what they are doing. perhaps we should start calling things that they are: 'community project A, able bodied people only' - or 'community minus able bodied people get-active project'

maybe put up the odd sign 'this walk is not accessible to disabled people, we do not want you here, you are of little importance, please go somewhere else'

this has turned into a disability rant. good. also please see my google image result for community, of a bunch of little people standing.

No comments: