The Bouncer

Published: Jul 15, 2018

When you own a public space that is inaccessible, you are hiring a bouncer that makes sure no disabled people get into that space. Maybe you lack a ramp at a raised entrance, a restroom with an accessible stall, or your website doesn’t work with screen readers.

By allowing this form of passive discrimination, you are actively refusing to allow disabled folks to enter a public space. You are actively stopping them from participating in the economy and society as a whole. This may not be what you intended, but it is what is happening.

When confronted with this, you might say “I would make my public space more accommodating if I knew that disabled people wanted to be here.” You explicitly tie a lack of accessibility to a lack of demand for that accessibility.

But here’s the thing: that bouncer? The one keeping all the disabled people out? The broken elevator? The stairs, the bathroom with no accessible stall? We know about him. Word gets around. And instead of showing up at your front door and yelling at him, we stop showing up.

And now, you can shrug your shoulders and say that there’s not enough demand by your disabled “customers” to make your store accessible. You’re literally saying “I would make my space easier for disabled people to use if more disabled people used my space.”

You’re asking a disabled people to literally prove their worth to you before you’ll allow them in your space.

And I fucking hate you for it.

Oh, I’m sorry, did you think this was going to end with some heartfelt message about doing better and seeing things from a different perspective? Did you expect me to educate you and hold your hand while you learn to see people like me as worthy of access to your public space?

Fuck you.

You’ve had nearly 30 goddamn years to get your act together. My only hope for you is that your store goes out of business and gets replaced by someone who gives a fuck about something more than how much money I’m worth.