It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Access and Hypocrisy

I feel like I must preface this post by reminding readers that I am a die hard ADAPTer. My commitment flows through my veins 24/7, even if my constant depression and other issues make it almost impossible for other people to see it. However, two things happened over the course of a little over a week that I feel have questioned my credibility. Right now I'm up not able to sleep because of a few things, one of which is that I'm trying to reconcile the values I've developed as an ADAPTer with the positions I'm putting myself into.

The first thing that happened was that over the winter I decided I wanted to see an art therapist. I never liked doing art in my youth; my visual and fine motor deficits causing me to put up walls due to frustration, but after I spent 7 weeks in the summer of 2007 taking Intro to Art Therapy, art became my #1 strategy for avoiding my overwhelming anxiety. I say avoiding because instead of facing my anxiety head on I would spend hours with crayons and markers in an effort to ignore/push aside how uncomfortable I felt. This actually made my anxiety worse.

I created some great art though, and while my art will never hang in a professional gallery, I can no longer say I am "bad at art." I haven't touched my art materials in 2 years though, which is a good thing. A conversation with a friend once went like this:
"You want to come over and do art?"
"I'm not in the mood."
"You don't have to be in a good mood to do art."
"No, I have to be in a bad mood."
However, I noticed some patterns when I was doing art and I don't understand what they mean. I've been wondering all these years and finally over the winter started seeking out an outpatient art therapist.

The second thing that happened was that I decided to pursue an opportunity at work. There has been a recent staff turnover, and I can, most likely, pick up a few hours a week helping to develop our transitioning age youth program, which in 3+ years has never gotten off the ground. I've had some great ideas that the people running it agreed were good, but then nothing happened, and I decided it wasn't wise of me to strong arm them. I decided I wasn't willing to work on this unless I was being compensated.

What do these two things have in common? Both are located in inaccessible offices. The art therapist works within a group which is located in an older building, and her office has 1 step outside. Just 1 -- it'd be easy to ramp. If I ignore the issue, I have to be careful of where I am coming from or going to. I obviously can't bring my chair with me. While I have that "luxury," for lack of a better word, of deciding to do this, I don't feel right about it. In the 5 years I have been seeing my other shrink I have gone to appointments from places like our state capital, or gone straight from her to an ADAPT mtg, lugging bottles of soda on the back of my chair.

The organization I work for operates programs in 5 locations. I already work at 2 of them. One I bring my chair to 6 months out of the year because it's so close to where I live that rolling to work is faster then waiting for paratransit. The other I have brought my chair to twice over the last 10 months, both times because I was coming from somewhere. Out of all 5 locations, my new position, should I choose to ask for it, will be located where our executive offices are. The only location that is completely inaccessible. Not only are there steps up to both of the outside doors (one without any railings), but the main floor, the one where all the programing is, is divided in half by 3 steps. In the two years I have worked here I've rarely had to go there, so I decided not to pick this battle, but if I'm going to be working there regularly, I really don't feel that I need to not go places because I won't be able to get into work afterwards.

The easiest thing to do would be to state that they must move the program, however I don't feel like this would be fair to my new boss (I'd have 4). I'd only be working a partial shift, but with the staff turnover her hours are being expanded so that she's working a full shift that day. If we move locations it cuts into her hours. So I guess that means that I ask (demand?) that ramps be installed. The thing is that 1, I'm not sure it is possible to ramp the inside steps, meaning that if we ramp one set of the outside steps we'd literally be doing half the job, making only half the place accessible. I could get out of my chair and struggle with the inside steps, but not everyone can. A half job is not OK with me. The other thing is that they're not legally required to do this. I have a good enough sense of our finances to know that they can claim "undo hardship." Is it my responsibility to find a way to get ramps installed at a discount, or theirs? This I don't know.

My first inclination was to ignore both of these access issues, push them to the back of my head and pretend that they're OK. I've realized that I can't bring myself to do this, which is actually a relief. I won't spend all my time feeling like a hypocrite. I won't spend all my days feeling like a sell out. I won't be limiting how I plan my days. However if I bring these issues up and they can't be resolved, am I limiting myself in other ways? Am I limiting my ability to knock down my psychological barriers? Am I limiting my ability to develop valuable work skills? I'm not OK with that either.

Which is leaving me at a loss, and is contributing to my insomnia. Anyone know where I should go from here? That is if you've gotten this far...


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