Designers design aid and mobility tools for disabled, but as I have come across many times, there is not much understanding of the every day problematic, which could be very simple things like how to keep your wheelchair clean, how much space one needs to turn and what kinds of doorsteps truly one has to go over at one’s house or how to reach out.
How to deal with offense? What kind of things offend the most? Hurt against disabled is very every day. It is often situation of constant hurting and comparing to those who are not visibly disabled. Disabled stick out of the crowd, need special care, special planning for every detail in everyday life we take for granted, are in many cases denied dignity and control over their lives, do not have access to decent health care or have to fight constantly to find it, fight over aid and possibilities to influence their constantly disregarded and undervalued situation. Who wants to offend disabled? No one, but many do just by staring, being inconsiderate, calling names, talking about disabled without knowledge over their lives, feelings, thoughts or much reason because many disabled can speak for themselves. The thing is who listens to them, the kind of second class who are at our mercy, we who can do whatever we please, almost.
To talk about disabled as an abled person is awkward, it feels like I am stepping on toes. Situation of how to speak of those others whose experiences are more or less unknown is present and quite demanding. To speak about anyone whom you wish to be able to help but possibly do nothing but create empty talk of good-hearted naivety, everything may and will go wrong anyway because the experience is too distant and alien. You haven’t sat in their chairs, haven’t been looking at the stairs which you are not able to climb, haven’t been at the level of someone who sits all the time. Therefore I welcome all art that juggles this dilemma of finding the level and connection where we can truly understand obstacles and walls someone faces, identifying with complex hurt we carry abled and disabled, because we do not easily meet, learning to respect thoughts and feelings of others especially when realities of other people can be so completely unknown and far away even we physically stand close.