This Is Not a Place For Us

by dpreyde

Last Thursday, I was supposed to attend a training session for the organization. I had already attended this session two years ago, but had been offered the opportunity to take it again so I could refresh my memory.

I hadn’t received a response to my most recent e-mail, and was increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of volunteering for these people.

I think what finally made my mind up was when I got an e-mail from the person organizing the training session.

It had been sent to everyone who had signed up, instructing us to watch a government-made video about the province’s accessibility laws. Everyone involved in the organization had to watch the video so they wouldn’t accidentally discriminate against a disabled person.

I had forgotten all about this video; I’d watched it two years ago, and realized while I was watching it that the organization’s tendency to screen out various disabled people may be breaking the law.

“Am I the only one who sees this?” I wondered at the time.

I guess I got so pissed off I just blocked the whole thing out. This has happened before. So I collected myself and sent one last e-mail to the organization:

Hi, [name of person]

I understand the need for assessing children who wish to participate in your organization. I’m concerned that the assessments might negatively affect children with disabilities to a disproportionate degree.

We live in a society in which the presence of disabled people is considered optional. We are allowed to participate only if we don’t somehow inconvenience or burden the non-disabled.

The allocation of resources is often used as justification for excluding us. [Name of organization] has a century-long track record of innovation which demonstrates that, if it were a priority, you could certainly find a way to include disabled youth in your programming.

I’m not just writing this to you as a concerned activist or potential mentor. At some point in the next few years, I will in all likelihood become a father. Because I have Asperger’s, which is a genetic disability, it is quite likely that my child will have some form of autism. For this reason, most of my activism at this point is geared toward trying to create a better, more accessible future.

I sincerely hope that at some point soon [name of organization] decides to fully embrace accessibility and inclusivity.

Unfortunately until then I feel I cannot be affiliated with you as a volunteer.

Best regards,

David

I don’t expect to ever hear from them again.

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