Good Dis/Bad Tech

Posted January 12th, 2003 by Anthony

Last week I went to MacWorld. It is a trade fair with an edge of fanaticism. I usually enjoy myself with the new toys while being irritated at the poor wheelchair access and thick carpets.

When I saw the database software I use, I went over to their pavilion. I wanted to solve a glitch I had been encountering with their product. I was waiting to talk to the software expert, eavesdropping on the dilemma of the person ahead of me. To my surprise the expert noticed me in my wheelchair and asked the person he was advising to step to the side so that I could see and vicariously participate. I was stunned. Apart from a London museum guide, I have never had anyone take action to include me when I’m on the periphery.

Eventually, my turn came to ask my question. I had my second surprise. The guy working the booth couldn’t be bothered with my software difficulties as I wasn’t using the latest release of their software. He was dismissive and moved on to the next person.

Often as an aware disability activist and social critic I see and hear things that make me cringe. I am used to being dismissed. Often I attribute it to my disability status. Rarely, do I find a seeming contradiction like this. The employee was a great disability ally and an insensitive techie. I got to experience being thought less of for something other than my disability. I think that’s a gift. I’m not sure.


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