For anyone out there waiting with bated breath for my third post on organization, I must apologize; this isn’t it. I got distracted—not a good commendation for my organizational skills, but there it is.
Recently Astrid wrote a response post, on which a certain blogger made the claim that accommodations are insufficient for people with LF autism. (I’m side-stepping the debate on whether HF/LF is a fair and reasonable distinction.) Instead, I will jump right to the part where the example cited by this individual—which was intended to demonstrate the inadequacy of accommodations—included accommodations as a means of achieving a satisfactory outcome.
This implies to me that “accommodations” is a word that is flung around far more often than it is understood. So, what constitutes an accommodation?
Let’s go back to our friend, the dictionary:
1. the act of accommodating; state or process of being accommodated; adaptation.
2. adjustment of differences; reconciliation.
3. Sociology. a process of mutual adaptation between persons or groups, usually achieved by eliminating or reducing hostility, as by compromise or arbitration.
4. anything that supplies a need, want, favor, convenience, etc.
5. Usually, accommodations.
b. food and lodging.
c. a seat, berth, or other facilities for a passenger on a train, plane, etc.
6. readiness to aid or please others; obligingness.
7. a loan.
8. Ophthalmology. the automatic adjustment by which the eye adapts itself to distinct vision at different distances.
9. accommodation bill.
Take a close look at definition 4: “anything that supplies a need, want, favor, convenience, etc.”
If a person can’t communicate verbally, providing them with a Picture Exchange Communication system is an accommodation—it supplies a needed means of communication.
If a person can’t walk independently, providing them with a cane or a wheelchair is a form of accommodation—it supplies a needed means of mobility.
If a person can’t shout loud enough for somebody in the next state to hear them clearly, providing them with a telephone with long distance service is a form of accommodation—it supplies a wanted means of communication over long distances.
If you change a situation (whether that involves physical or procedural change) to satisfy an unmet need or want, or to increase the convenience of a situation, you are providing an accommodation. If accommodations were provided to individuals with disabilities, their potential would not be hampered by the same limitations they face without accommodations. The crux of the accommodations argument, in my opinion, is two-fold: Do we prioritize accommodations sufficiently to meet the needs of members of our society? Do we prioritize the design and development of accommodations sufficiently to meet the needs of members of our society?
Accommodations could be used to assist every individual in our societies to succeed if appropriate accommodations befitting our technological development were designed and distributed to those who need them. Even in socialist countries this does not occur—neither the design nor the distribution—because individuals who need such accommodations are not sufficiently valued to justify the expense.
In short, by raising the value of individuals with disabilities (acceptance) and advocating appropriate accommodations, I seek to enable individuals with all abilities to live up to their potential. For some, the accommodations they need will be easily come by. Others will need more accommodations—perhaps even accommodations that do not yet exist. That does not mean that accommodations are, in and of themselves, inadequate to meet the given needs; that means we need to improve our design and distribution of accommodations to meet the existing need for them.