Is it Ableist to be Glad I’ve Made Something More Accessible?

Feb 15, 2019

Lee asks, quote:

Is it ableist to be happy about a blind person reblogging my image descriptions? I have a tumblr mutual who is visually impaired and, whenever they reblog a post that I described the images of, I feel happy that my image description helped them. I don’t think that they depend on me to describe things, but I do find myself more motivated to do image descriptions since I know someone who will benefit from them. Is this ableist?

end quote.

It’s a sign of personal growth. I’ve had more than one friend tell me “ever since I started hanging out with you, I’ve started to notice how inaccessible a lot of spaces are”. It’s just a side‐effect of getting to know people from different walks of life: you start to see things from their perspective. On the flip side, I don’t fault abled folk for not noticing that something is in accessible: I fault them for not doing their research a head of time when they know someone with a disability needs to be included.

It’s totally fine to be glad that you are making something more accessible. Doing the right thing means making something accessible and it’s only natural to feel good about doing the right thing.

However, it never hurts to step back and reflect on what may or may not be motivating you. It’s one thing to do what’s right. It’s another thing to announce that you’re doing what’s right (to clarify: I’m not talking about your question. Your question is open, honest, and asked in good faith). You quietly point out to your vegan friend which snacks are vegan. You don’t loudly announce “Hello, everyone! I just wanted to point out that I made vegan snacks for Sarah! She’s over there!” See what I mean?

It’s not ableist to be happy that you made something more accessible. It’s ableist to be happy you helped a visually impaired person. As long as you’re adding content descriptions to make Tumblr more accessible and not just adding them because it helps this one visually impaired person you happen to know, you’re in the clear.