Fix the Web

Harnessing the power of networks to make the web accessible for everyone.

Blogging against Disablism – the meaning of silence

Posted by gailbradbrook on April 30, 2010

Blogging Against Disablism DayBlogging Against Disablism logo in colour, stick men in lots of colour plus one wheelchair

Kevin Carey (Chair, RNIB, Chair, humanity, Head eInclusion Consultancy, ATcare) gave a fantastic presentation this week at the first BIS hosted e-Accessibility Forum. It was a clear and succinct overview of how to ensure disabled people can be part of Digital Britain. It focused on market forces and legal aspects and had a focused approach to future proofing standards. It seemed to me the work of a genius, a person who surpasses probably everyone in the UK, if not Europe, in his depth and breadth of subject knowledge. (Please email me if you want a copy of the documents)

Apart from a few questions and comments on details I would say it was largely met by silence by those hosting the meeting. There was no response to say “we take what you say very seriously and here is how we are embedding it into our thinking”. It felt like box ticking (yes we “listened” to the blind guy who is an expert, wasn’t it a nice “thought provoking” piece, now let’s move on to tinkering at the edges of this agenda). I made an impassioned plea to build our action planning with Kevin’s thinking at the heart of it – more silence. These are civil servants with a job to do. I’ve been around that before, the job is to not do, except what is already happening, which is failing. And of course they are good people. Tired and pissed off though he must be, Kevin has this paper higher up the food chain and he is making progress (power to your elbow!).

Silence is one malevolent element of oppressive behavior. It is insidious and murderous. To an able bodied person, our silence can feel numb, meaning well, being polite. I apologize. I apologize for when I do this. It must be the creeping behavior that fills all the gaps around the blatant stuff, making one big package that could drive a person nuts.

When, as an able bodied person, you can meet your silence and be aware of it, you find that it contains deep, deep separation which is heart breaking. It is the removal of the core of our humanity. Its making us ill, its making sicken for that something in our lives which is crushing in its absence. How can we talk about things not being “possible” or “affordable” when they are everything that we need, when it is about meeting our hearts longing?

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