Friday, October 6, 2017

Desperation Gives a Pass

We know there are few resources for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers.  We want it to be different, but it isn’t.  There are, however, a ton of resources for writers in general, some we can use… many we can’t.

Disabled and neuordivergent writers are often excluded from the world of “general” writers.  If it isn’t a workshop being up ten flights of stairs, it’s a literary magazine editor admitting they dislike working with neuordivergent writers (yes, it has happened).

Because there are so few places open to us, because there is so much out there for writers most of us cannot access, we often make excuses for the very people who don’t think about, or care about, our inclusion.  We hope they’ll do better and defend them when they repeatedly fail to make their spaces welcoming.  We hope, if we keep reminding them that we’re here, they will decide to fix everything.

A prime example of this is AWP (one of the largest organizations for writers).  Every year at their conference, things are not accessible.  Every year, people with disabilities are treated like crap by some of the volunteers when they need help.  Every year, there are stairs where there shouldn’t be.  They have gotten a fair amount of criticism for what they haven’t fixed.

But, a frighteningly large amount of disabled/neurodivergent writers make excuses for them, berate other disabled/neurodivergent writers for taking AWP to task, and cheer the organization whenever one little thing out of a thousand is addressed.  I hope The AWP Conference continues to improve upon their commitment to ALL writers but, after this long, I’m not holding my breath.

Just because a group, organization, conference, or residence caters to a lot of people, doesn’t mean the lack of accessibility should automatically be brushed aside as the organizers being “too busy”.  Something that is established with a lot of people behind it has even less excuse, I think, because there is enough money and time to include EVERYONE in their plan.  Well, everyone who can afford to attend an event, which is a different post.

Even things like online classes and workshops can have barriers, though it is probably more accidental than intentional.  I, myself, am still not sure how to make a website completely friendly for all my disabled/neurodivergent people and hope (if one of you comes across a problem) you’d let me know how I may best rectify the issue.

What do you folks think?  Do some disabled/neurodivergent writers give too many passes and make too many excuses for the larger literary community, or am I wrong?

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