How I see it … Thoughts on Equity

Ensuring equity for all in a society of many with individual needs has been on my mind lately.

Usually, I pride myself in being able to deliver on this for others that I care for, work with and encounter and can reasonably do this but more and more lately, the volume of differing needs has increased, and because of this, I am not able to keep to the standard I usually do due to sheer volume. This is a bitter pill to swallow and is something I am not happy about, but it is something that I alone can not change.

Lately, I have become bogged down in not providing this for all, and reverted to setting a solid line but on the other hand, why should I not provide equity for some? Then comes who do you choose … but this is a story for another time.

My thoughts wandered to inequity when filling in a fatigue risk assessment form, and one of the checkboxes for high risk for fatigue is a disability. I knew the fatigue from this was real as my fatigue had increased proportionally to the decrease in my vision over the last year. However, I had never really applied this to myself before adding the equity lens. Instead of an equity lens, I have always have held myself more accountable and set myself higher standards and been harder on myself than I was for others because I had a disability and was afraid that others, as I did, did not view disability with an equity lens.

When I think of equity, I immediately jump to think of race first and then look to other contexts. As a legally blind person, I face inequity every day that makes things more challenging, for example, construction and moving barriers, walls and moving people may be nothing to someone who can see, but in my world, these equal cognitive ability to navigate or in the case of people, nausea and dizziness. I had never thought of this with an equity lens until I filled in the fatigue management form. My latest frustration along these lines that readers will probably think this is rather strange; it is a building. Said building is in the line of sight of a bus stop I use every day. Before the building finished construction, I could just make out the shape of the approaching bus. Granted, because I can’t read the bus number, I stopped every bus to ask – not the point, though. The front of the building is constructed so that it looks like the front of an approaching bus. This has made figuring out when a bus is approaching very difficult, meaning that I use energy and brainpower to process things constantly rather than just glancing to recognise an oncoming bus. This concentration on something others take for granted contributes to the exhaustion I feel after that bus ride.

This is only one small example; much more that I can think of are even more overt, such as inaccessible software, hardware, houses, communities, schools and professions, etc.

As someone who lives with a disability every day (that I wish I could turn it on and off like a light switch), all I want is to fit into the world and be good at what I do, be like those around me and make the world a better place to live in for everyone. Today, with this in mind and very high fatigue levels, I started to dream about an environment that was easier to access and didn’t cause fatigue and challenges. Right now, my first thought is to put this in the too-hard basket, but what I am really thinking is … when I get the energy … how can I change this?

Back to what this narrative started with, why can’t I provide equitable opportunities for the volume of people I encounter? I have a friend who would say it is the same old story of the many versus the few. Why should these be black and white or exclusive?

With this in mind, my lesson for today, the only thing I can really change is myself. In this case, I am going to change my standards. Apply an equity lens and give myself a bit of a break from holding myself to higher standards than those around me because I live with a disability. Once this is achieved on to fixing the rest of my world.

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