I’ve rarely been refused service because of my disability. I’ve rarely found myself unable to use a restroom or other public facilities. The few times I can remember having difficulties with accommodation were in the pre-ADA years.
I was undergraduate when the ADA passed. Shortly afterwards I was included in a team of people–both disabled and able-bodied–to inspect the campus for ADA violations. We surveyed with tape measures and checklists. We went through every bathroom, elevator and classroom. What an enlightening experience that was. I was pleased when I learned that the school took our survey seriously and modified the most egregious violations quickly.
With that experience in the back of my mind, I’ve been reading Kay’s discussion of the Molski case with interest. Yes, like many of you may be, I am uncomfortable with serial litigants. It makes me uncomfortable to know that individuals make a profit out of suing noncompliant businesses. But this isn’t someone who’s intentionally spilling hot coffee on themselves in order to make a quick buck. This is someone who’s suing businesses for violations of laws that’ve been in place since 1990. If someone like Molski doesn’t sue, then what incentive do businesses have to comply? Will they voluntarily go out of their way to spend the money for the accommodations? With all sympathy for the plight of small business owners, I’m glad that someone is forcing compliance. Because the ADA is the law, and as such it should be followed despite any difficulties/costs in doing so.
Another interesting post from Kay led to my finding the following clip on youtube: a snippet of a dance performance by leg and finger amputee Lisa Bufano. I find this particular segment of her dance to be hauntingly beautiful. A more energetic performance of her dancing on stilts is also worth watching. I like these clips not because they portray her as a ‘supercrip’ but because they show how Lisa has incorporated the difference of her body into her art.
Update: I’ve added one more image of Bufano to this post–I love this picture of her using prostehtic limbs that resemble table legs. Beautiful.
John asked me how Bufano’s work is different from that of the spectacle found at the carnival. Certainly there are ways that it’s similar in that she’s dancing for an audience and there is a kind of crip curiosity driving the performance. But, for me, it’s different in that she’s appropriating the gaze, the stereotypes, and making them her own. Her legs are caricatures, she’s exploding the myth of normative ambulation. She’s reclaiming her body as her own kind of public space (and for those of us with mobility impairments, our body is a public space–every venture into a crowd becomes an act of theater).
A quicktime movie of her performance on these table-leg stilts.