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December open thread: disability, neurodiversity, deafness and Deafness

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(This was a draft of a MetaTalk post. People who worked on it: brainwane & sciatrix. It turned into https://metatalk.metafilter.com/25404/December-open-thread-disability-neurodiversity-and-d-Deafness .)



(Anyone who's improving this before posting: maybe use the readable.com Flesch-Kincaid score to make sure that it, and other parts of this, aren't written above, say, a 10th grade level, for better cognitive accessibility?)

draft title: Open thread: disability, ableism, accommodations, conflicting needs, & MetaFilter

Just as in previous MeTas, this thread is a conversational space for disabled folks and other folks affected by ableism to talk about their experiences on the site. You get to decide whether ableism affects you -- this is not a space focused on gatekeeping. That said, this thread is for everyone to read and for disabled people to (mostly) participate in.

In the past, we have opened these threads by talking about different models of disability and about the needs of neurodivergent people on the site. To open this thread, I'd like to talk about conflicting needs and accommodations.

One thing that I have been sitting with recently is the concept of conflicting needs. Often, when people first start thinking about disability, they think in terms of accommodations for a disabled person. They think about how non-disabled people must strive to accommodate disabled people. But it is quite possible, and common, for the needs of two people with disabilities to conflict, and sometimes to conflict severely. This topic has come up in previous discussions on neurodivergence in particular, which makes sense: the needs of autistic people are often rather notorious for coming into conflict with one another, sometimes in difficult-to-resolve ways. For example, both my partner and I are easily overwhelmed and frightened by loud voices during arguments, but both of us also have poor volume control when we are emotional. This also applies, however, to other kinds of disability. For example, people with allergies may have difficulties tolerating the service animals that other disabled people rely on. Learning to negotiate conflicting needs can be challenging.

One method that people use to find accord is: to be clear about expectations for a given space, so that people can judge their participation accordingly. For example, how can we design a space for the Deaf? We need to consider that sometimes it's hard for Deaf people to interpret feedback about how loud a noise is, so it is sometimes difficult for Deaf people to completely control noise volume. So maybe we hedge it with some expectations for hearing participants. We explicitly say that hearing participants should be aware of sudden loud noises, and that these might be startling to people with PTSD or other sensory disabilities.

Another method that people use to reconcile conflicting needs is to talk carefully about exactly what it is that each person needs from another. Perhaps arguments over text can circumvent problems with controlling the volume of speech.

And sometimes, there is no universally accessible option in one place. Sometimes, [the best approach is to create a whole bunch of non-overlapping options. That way, there's something that everyone can participate in, even if it's not possible to make every space accessible to every person.]

Sometimes we can use this approaches to make MetaFilter better!

But we don't need to stick to just this topic. What have you been thinking about? Or feeling?


This thread is a place for us to talk about what ableism is (explaining models of disability and other useful concepts), and provide a place for people affected by ableism to talk to one another. We're trying to make this a space relatively free of pressure from people who AREN'T hurt by ableism. You get to decide whether ableism affects you. This thread is for everyone to read and for disabled people to (mostly) participate in. We encourage you to talk about yourself and your own experiences. In this thread, please don't talk about other people's imagined experiences.

Some ground rules for this discussion, to help with those goals:

  • Disabled and neuroatypical people should be talking most of the time. Neurotypical people without disabilities, take a step back and mostly listen.
  • Some neuroatypical people identify as disabled. Some don't.
  • Some people prefer person-first (such as "person with autism") or identity-first ("autistic person") language. Please respect others' preferences and let them talk about themselves however is comfortable for them.
  • You don't need a doctor's diagnosis to identify as disabled.
  • Different people sometimes have conflicting access needs. Sometimes a group can't accommodate them at the same time.
  • "I'm here" and "I agree with this (quoted) point" comments are helpful and welcome.
  • Even more than usual, please try to be gentle with each other and yourself in this thread. (Especially because some of us, because of our disabilities, have a particularly difficult time dealing with expressions of anger.)

This is a followup to the July 30th-August 30th 2019 MetaTalk post, "Anxiety/​depression/​ADHD/​autism/​bipolar & other neurodivergences on MeFi" and https://metatalk.metafilter.com/25301/Open-thread-Disability-d-Deafness-and-neurodiversity .

And -- hi. Glad you're here.