Disablers and Enablers
I am a proponent of the social model of disability. According to the social model, people are disabled not by their conditions and impairments, but rather by social barriers. These may be physical barriers to access, or they may be attitudes.
To encourage people to think about this, I included an interactive piece in my recent Room For Art exhibition at Gardens Gallery in Cheltenham. I started this by listing some of the disabling barriers that affect me: stigma, busy roads, lack of public transport, crowded places, small print. Also, some of the things that help to enable me to live a full and enjoyable life: art, music, nature, understanding, well-placed pedestrian crossings, smart phone, reliable public transport, talking buses, rural bus routes, large print, audio books, ebooks.
Examples of disabling barriers adoes by visitors were: Shame; Silence; Isolation; long drives to Gloucester; Alzheimer’s, arthritis, age; Physical disability; Depression; Negative thoughts; lack of money.
Visitors also provided examples of things that enable them: Talking; Adequate finance; Mental and physical space to make art; Compassion
Kindness; time; good listening; Attention and encouragement; The lightning process and NLP; Friendship; Encouragement; Family; drawing; walking; Company and family.
I was really pleased that I got so much engagement with this piece. While I may know what barriers I face myself, I feel that it’s really important to ask people what can be put in place to make society more accessible, rather than making assumptions.
Is there anything that helps enable you to gain access? Or, if you run a service, what questions do you ask about how you could remove barriers?