Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mobility Impaired

The news from Malaysia is that AirAsia is pioneering new depths of discriminatory behavior. While using the slogan "Now Everyone Can Fly," Air Asia has a policy of refusing to sell seats to anyone who may require boarding assistance. Apparently, Air Asia uses old fashioned steps on the tarmac instead of jetways. I can see that, in less developed regions, jetways may not be feasible immediately. But not being able to get on a plane without help shouldn't mean not having to fly at all or, as AirAsia suggests, paying for and bringing along your own care provider.

AirAsia comsiders anyone who can't climb stairs to be "completely immobile." That is ridiculous. I can't get up and down stairs easily (Yeah, I can do it, if no one has anywhere to go the rest of the day) and I can't even traverse a jetway under my own power in the seconds set aside for boarding. But I am not completely immobile. I can even mow my own lawn, in small sections over several days. But apparently I couldn't fly AirAsia. Most people with disabilities are not "completely immobile," but AirAsia is doing its level best to redefine "needs a bit of help" to mean "cemented in place." Way to exemplify the social model of disability!

Fortunately, Malaysia's Barrier-Free Environment and Accessible Transport Group (BEAT) is fighting the discrimination, pointing out that AirAsia's rules keep pregnant women and senior citizens, as well as people with mobility impairments, from being able to fly AirAsia. Best of luck, BEAT!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Put your oar in

I took a look at Disapedia today. It's got that whole Web 2.0 thing happening which means, well, I'll let webmaster Peter explain:

What makes Disapedia special? Why should anyone spend their time visiting or, more importantly, contributing to a site when there hundreds if not thousands of sites ostensibly dedicated to the same cause. The answer is control. The community controls its destiny on the website not just in name, but in actual physical control. For so long the battle for the disability community has been over the ability to gain control of their lives. Why should their communities and forums be any different?

So, just as the advent of the internet allowed the disabled community to cover the world and find individuals who shared the same struggles and joys of being disabled, the next shift in the internet, Web 2.0, has the potential to have just as big of an impact on the disabled community. In an era of collaborative efforts and such project as Wikipedia, MySpace, or Diggit, we have a chance to create a place that reflects our own desires. Many sites have tried to do it in the past, but because they were started by just an individual or a small group of people, they failed, or the project was abandoned and eventually became out of date. With a community though, there are thousands to make sure that Disapedia will always remain up to date and the best resource for disability on the internet, no matter what the subject.

I can't say as there's a whole lot at the site right now. But there will be if you go put in your oar.