Let’s talk about my local one-stop disability help shop. How its initials spell out access but really it’s fill out this form and that, and we’ll perform our hocus-pocus and outsource your needs to another agency. Which, naturally, for you (meaning me) will be forty minutes from your actual domicile, because disabled people don’t live in the ‘burbs, don’t be stupid.
Let’s talk about how inaccessible that makes resources, really. Because if I want a job, this is another hoop through which I have to jump and I’m so tired of jumping. This is another system I have to navigate when I’d be most comfortable just… walking into an office and negotiating. “Here’s what I have to give. Here’s how I can give it. This is why you need me. This is what I need from you, and I can back that up with letters from my care team.”
Let’s be blunt American capitalists for a minute and admit that the only reason I have to navigate systems that make the process opaque is the bigotry of those who have not yet realized what a damn good employee I would be — with help. Which I will specify, and which my docs will back up. Because I know my needs better than any agency. Because I still deserve a voice and so do you, no matter what assistive tech you use to speak.
In case you missed the memo, “Harrison Bergeron” is dystopian fiction. The assumption that because one set of disabled workers needs All The Help, so do the rest, there’s money in that problem. There’s money being spent on that problem when for very much cheaper, lists of resources could be distributed to those who desired them. Then the money could be shuffled back into the lives of those who need it. SSDI alone is not why disabled people cost money. It’s the extras being heaped on all of our heads when really many of us can list “employer bias” as a disability along with the actual medical issue at hand.
We’re innovators, we gimps. We’re thinkers and doers just like you are. We like to be part of the process. (Most of us that I’ve known, anyhow.) You see people opting out of the workplace, ask them what their job hunting looks like. Ask if they’ve been treated like people, or just like paper in manila folders. Ask what they would do if their accommodations were considered investments in good, solid workers.
And if you need help seeing how this could work for your company? Hire me. I’d be fabulous for your HR team. Been there, done that, got the run-around. So done with middlemen. Ready to rejoin the taxpaying millions. Longing, in fact.
I just want to be people. Just like you.