The world needs saving. The good news is that we don’t have to wait around for Avengers to do it, we can be the heroes if we start making the right choices. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, recycle, and reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. I am happy to see that a lot of people are choosing to change their habits to protect each other (from the pandemic) and the environment (well, from us) but hurting disabled people isn’t going to save the planet.
Some time ago one of my Facebook friends posted a photo of a passion fruit cut in half and packed in plastic that they saw in a grocery store. They were outraged by this and called it disgusting and wasteful. Based on the comment section people agreed with them, posting their own photos of peeled oranges in plastic containers. One commenter even posted a link to a website where customers could report such products presumably to have them removed from shelves.
No one pointed out that what might seem wasteful at the first glance, is an accommodation meant for disabled people. So, I did. Many disabled people (including me) can’t peel or cut the fruit or vegetables by themselves. Buying it packaged like that is often the only way we can eat it.
How could we open the packaging if we aren’t able to peel the fruit itself, you ask? Peeling of the top of a container is usually much easier than peeling an orange. For starters you can’t really open an orange by poking holes into it with manicure scissors.
Stop using a keyboard, you lazy lout
The author of the post protested that there are too many various products being sold like this for it to be just for disabled people and that they are often bought by people who are just lazy. Do you know what else lazy people use every day? Typewriters/keyboards, electric toothbrushes, OXO Good Grips and similar kitchen tools, speech-to-text and voice recognition apps, fidget spinners, curb cuts, bendy straws, and audiobooks. These things and many others were originally created for disabled people, should we ban them, too?
This will maybe come as a shock to you, but disabled people are happy to share their accommodations with the rest of society. Demand creates its own supply. If you buy a ready-made meal or a bowl of mixed fruit for your lunch at work, it means that these things are going to be on the shelves for a disabled person to find as well. It means that disabled people could buy affordable and varied food without having to travel miles to some specialist store. Saying that something could only be used by disabled people usually just makes it unavailable or unaffordable to us. There are of course exceptions to this rule: disabled parking spots should be for disabled people only and if you are appropriating them, you are an ableist jerk.
One size doesn’t fit all
My Facebook friend apparently didn’t like the point I was making and tried to refute it by saying that they know a disabled person who couldn’t use that accommodation because he cannot move his hands and his parents would never buy such a disgusting thing as a peeled orange.
If someone cannot use their hands this accommodation obviously isn’t meant for them. And their able-bodied parents or other carers wouldn’t need it either. I am disabled. I have cerebral palsy; I am also sighted and can’t read braille. Does this mean that no disabled people need braille?
When it comes to accommodations and accessibility one size simply doesn’t fit all. But this is the reason why society needs to create more accommodations not less.
Zero Waste shouldn’t equal Zero Accommodations
“You cannot deny, that selling fruit packaged like that create a lot of waste! Accommodations shouldn’t hurt the planet!” There are thousands of products that aren’t environmentally friendly, and people (both disabled and able-bodied) use them every day, nappies, and wet wipes for example.
If an accommodation is bad for the planet, getting rid of it isn’t the answer. We should search for ways to make it more eco-friendly. The packaging should be fully recyclable or reusable or it should be made from bio-degradable materials. Humans are smart. We went to space I am sure that we would be able to figure out how to make the world accessible without polluting it. Ables just need to look at it through the eyes of disabled people first.
There is no shame in being wrong, only in refusing to learn
You never thought about convenience food as an accessibility measure before? That’s alright, no one is capable of considering everything from every angle all the time. Disabled people aren’t expecting that of you. The only thing we ask for, is that you listen to us when we explain things from our perspective and take what we say into account. The person who posted that photo isn’t my friend anymore. They unfriended me after they deleted the comments in which I tried to explain that convenience food is in fact a necessary accommodation for many disabled people. This makes them an ableist, don’t be like them.