In my mind accessibility is something that should be second nature, especially for meetings and organizations that are tying to appeal to the largest possible audience. Alas, architectural barriers prevent this “second nature” approach from being fully realized. A great example would be from the Moral Monday events that were held at the GA Capitol on January 13th. Make no mistake, Moral Monday is a great organization advocating for items and changes that impact several communities, including the disability community, yet the morning strategy session was held in an area of the GA Capitol that was completely inaccessible to people with mobility related disabilities.
When I say that this room was inaccessible, I mean it. If it weren’t so insulting it would be comical. The room was BETWEEN the 3rd and 4th floors. There was absolutely no way to access the room if you could go up or down a set of stairs. How is this acceptable in this day and age? The room should be boarded up and forgotten if they can’t make it accessible to everyone. My anger at the situation was split with a majority going toward the Capitol (which still lacks Braille singnage on a majority of offices and across the street where several state senators have offices there is ZERO Braille in the hallways), but a portion really did have to go to the organizers of the event. This event was really a teachable moment for them, I just with the lesson didn’t have to come at the expense of our staff and consumers missing out on portions of the days events. We look forward to working with the organizers of future events to ensure full inclusiveness and accessibility.
In online conversations afterwards (with other attendees, not the Moral Monday staff/personnel) many defended the organizers saying: “well, they don’t have any power over the room they were given.” I don’t believe this, there is always a choice. If disABILITY LINK had reserved a room and found out it was in a ridiculously inaccessible place we would not have the event there, we would request another room, a swap with someone else or find some solution, but we would be inclusive. Making the excuse of: “they couldn’t help it” is not an acceptable argument, it’s lazy.
I believe this might have been the first event from Moral Monday in Georgia and I look forward to working with our staff and Moral Monday to ensure that it will be the last to have major access issues. Being present and active is the only way to enact change. We will work together for systemic change that will benefit the community, united in advocacy.