Accessibility Matters


Image description: Two graphics with a white background with a red border and black text that features two quotes by @Mia.Mingus on Instagram: “Access is a practice of love when it is done in service of care, solidarity, and disability justice.” 

On Sunday nights this summer, I’ve been tuning into a series of webinars called Crip Camp: The Official Virtual Experience. These webinars are centered on Disability Justice and have grown out of the experience of the Netflix original film Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. I recommend the film, and more about that tomorrow.

These webinars have been phenomenal, and if you’d like to learn more about what has been discussed, feel free to check out the hashtag #CripCampVirtual on Twitter. Tonight’s topic was, “Creating Our Community: Civic Engagement and Your Role in the Movement.”

And there was quite a surprise. A surprise guest. President Barack Obama showed up. He and First Lady Michelle Obama helped produce the Crip Camp film. He was present to talk about what he’d learned, and he invited people to ask him questions.

And as soon as he arrived, when it was time for him to greet everyone, he started with a visual description. He described the visual space where he was sitting, and he described what he was wearing. This was for those who are blind and visually impaired, as well as any others who could benefit from that description. In response to this simple gesture, people tweeted that they cried.

Accessibility matters. And it matters when people in power create accessible spaces of welcome. He also honored disability culture in giving that description. His presence and that gesture were both welcomed surprises.

Renee Roederer

It’s also good to speak words of critique for collective learning. Later, I also critiqued his use of some creeping, ableist language when he started talking burnout and taking care of our bodies. “If you’re not healthy, you can’t help anyone,” he said. Wrong room. 🙂 Well intended, but that’s a good example of how casual ableism shows up in our language all the time. We’re all learning in this, me included.


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