Lydia X. Z. Brown

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Monthly Archives: May 2012

In case you’re wondering

No, Autistic Hoya isn’t relocating to WordPress, at least not anytime in the near future.

What happened today is that I had a fantastic (and by fantastic, I mean downright awful and frustrating) experience trying to leave a comment on a friend’s blog that uses WordPress as the platform. This was by no means the first time this had happened. In fact, it was probably the dozenth or so this year, if not more. With each passing comment, I’ve grown more and more frustrated with my or my computer’s general inability to leave comments on WordPress-hosted blogs. I finally decided that the easiest way to solve this problem would be to create a WordPress account. Then, I ran into the problem that although I wanted to create only a username and not a blog, the system decided to break itself and commit suicide, forcing me to create a blog.

I know of another Autistic blogger who uses an iPad and thus finds it nearly impossible to leave comments on Blogspot-hosted blogs without finding a standard computer with which to write the comment or otherwise going through a roundabout method. I’ve spent months generally unable to leave WordPress comments other than the odd one that’s been allowed to slip through. I hate it when the internet becomes inaccessible. I particularly hate it when the internet creates parallel inaccessibility — when one person can use platform A but not platform B, and another person can use platform B but not platform A, thus creating a mind-boggling, obscenely frustrating paradox impossible to overcome without vast amounts of sheer rage and caffeine. (And stimming, too.)

I know that I’m guilty of not having universal accessibility with my own site, as I haven’t been able to make audio recordings of each of my posts, nor have I learned how to allow folks to change colors, font sizes, and such things, nor can everyone leave comments — and in all likelihood, my former policy on never deleting 99% of comments has created an environment in which at least some people whose comments and insights I’d love to read likely feel emotionally and psychologically unsafe and therefore do not add to the conversation. I try. I really do. But it’s oh so frustrating when the fault lies not with you but with some enormous, impenetrable company that has created a barrier that you have little to no control over removing or altering in order to gain access.

Sometime last week, I was inside a large retail store when I went to the fitting room to try some clothes, only to find my olfactory senses violently assaulted by the overpowering stench of commercial cleaning chemicals that made the entire area completely inaccessible to me. This doesn’t happen to me as often as it does to some friends of mine, but after staggering from the fitting room in a near fit of rage (yes, Andrew, the pun was intended) , I found that the folks working on that particular retail store would likely have neither ability or nor will to change their cleaning practices to accommodate all people with chemical allergies or sensitivity or sensory processing differences, and furthermore, that the only real means of redress lies with the folks at corporate. Not to be a cynic — or perhaps I do mean to be a cynic — but I highly doubt that one letter from an angry customer, no matter how articulate or well-argued, is going to sway them to mandate more accessible environments for all people.

Sometimes I hate having an invisible disability. It means that my disclosure will always be questioned and sometimes interrogated, frequently disbelieved and occasionally attributed to a lazy, defiant personality wont to “make excuses.”

When exploring potential future opportunities for myself based on my current course of study (I’m an Arabic major), I recently realized that pretty much every standard language proficiency exam for people seeking jobs as translators, interpreters, or language analysts requires an oral component (understandably), and that this sometimes takes place over the phone. If that is ever required of me during a job application process, I’m going to have to file for an accommodation under the ADA, because I have auditory processing problems that make it very difficult for me to conduct extended conversations over the phone, including in my supposed native language, English. And that realization gave me pause, because I’m afraid — with good reason — that that request could result in an act of discrimination against me in the hiring process that would ultimately be nearly impossible to prove in any kind of civil suit.

Accessibility is a tricky thing. The thing about it is that it ought to be the basic, minimum standard of human decency — to provide equal access. But the reality of it is that it’s applauded and cheered when someone makes an effort to make a place or a website or a process more accessible to people with all sorts of disabilities and differences. An act of basic human decency has become the exception, better than the norm. And never mind requests for accommodations for accessibility reasons. We’re told to be grateful, to be thankful, to grovel at the feet of such generous benefactors who went out of their way for us. That, or we’re told it would cost too much, would take too much time, would involve just too much effort, and so it’s not worth it. Either way, we’re left by the wayside.

So it becomes easy to resign myself to the lack of accessibility whenever I encounter it, because frankly, it gets too tiring to demand change from ears unwilling to pay much more than perfunctory attention. At that point, why bother?  If the basic, minimum standard of human decency is in reality a far-fetched and unrealistic delusion, then I’m done trying. Why demand equal access? Why demand my basic rights as a human being or even just the acknowledgement of my humanity when my kind is routinely subjected to the worst kinds of dehumanization anyway?

“That’s unreasonable” is just another way of saying, “You, Lydia, you personally are not worth the trouble, because you’re just not as important or valuable as a normal person. In fact, it would be so cost-prohibitive to make sure you have equal access that we’re appalled that you even had the gall to demand it. Who the hell do you think you are?”

It takes one step to move onto this long, tortuous path.

This is very likely to be the very last post that appears here, unless Autistic Hoya ever does actually migrate to this platform, which I don’t foresee and haven’t planned or intended to do. For those of you who’ve actually found and or read this brief screed at WordPress and the internet and general inaccessibility, I hope that at the very least I’ve provided sufficient amusement or engagement for the few minutes of your time that it took to read this. If you (surprisingly) haven’t read Autistic Hoya before (and really, I’d be very surprised if you stumbled across this page without having read Autistic Hoya before), you can find more of the same at www.autistichoya.com. If you’re having accessibility problems, by all means, please share them here or elsewhere, or if you too find it impossible to leave a comment, maybe you can just send me an email. I listen to accessibility complaints, but that’s probably because I’ve actually experienced inaccessibility. Trust me, I know it’s not fun.