The staggering costs of the chair- and dark-impaired.


I was accompanying a friend to the doctor a couple weeks ago, and we were sitting in the waiting room, both of us using wheelchairs. We had the following conversation, or something very like it (I won’t get the details right, but this is the gist):

Her (to my staff): We need to find you a place to sit down. I forgot, you’re chair-impaired.

Staff: Actually I’m okay standing.

Her (gesturing around the waiting room): Just look at all this furniture devoted to your special needs. Hospitals must spend thousands of dollars buying chairs for the… uh… chair-challenged. They require assistive technology wherever they go.

Me: Yes, as a matter of fact, you and I can take our chairs with us, but those poor walking people all have to find places to sit. Must be such a drain on society…

Her: It’s quite a debilitating handicap. And very expensive. Well it’s true! They seem to want chairs to appear everywhere they go, and that costs a lot, all those chairs per person. It becomes quite a burden on those of us able-chaired people who don’t need them. And how you can expect any quality of life… I mean can you say that’s a life that’s worth all that money?

Me: Don’t forget lighting costs.

Her: Oh yes, lighting must cost billions of dollars for all those sighted people who can’t possibly function in the dark.

Me: Don’t forget all the signage, and so forth.

Her: Of course, you and I are both in that category, we’re both dark-impaired.

Me: There’s actually a cure for that one. Eye amputation.

Her: Oh yes, and of course the cure should be mandatory because otherwise we’d have to spend all this money accommodating them, when we could just do a little operation…

Me: I forgot, there’s also a cure for being a chair-impaired person… or is that a person with chair-impairedness? But yes, eye amputation is an option.

Her: Wasn’t there an article about that once, how to accommodate dark-impaired people?

Me: I think it was How to Talk to Sighted People


Now keep in mind when picturing all this, that she’s got one of those unmodulated loud autistic voices, and I happened to have my keyboard turned up to full volume. My staff apparently really enjoyed watching people’s responses, especially since both my friend and I have had people loudly talk about how much we cost, and so forth, in public, before. Most people apparently found what we were saying funny. Which is good, we were goofing around and trying to keep our minds off the fact that we were in a hospital waiting room. But there was a serious statement somewhere in there about all this “social construction of impairment” stuff.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

14 responses »

  1. Speaking of the “social construction of impairment”, not being able (or willing)to drive a car is a handicap in the UK these days, and I sense a growing attitude that it’s irresponsible not to learn unless you can prove you have some “medical” reason for it. A great deal of housing, workplaces, shopping malls, places of leisure are inaccessible to those who are mobility impaired due to not having a car.

  2. Pingback: Action For Autism » Blog Archive » The staggering costs of the chair- and dark-impaired.

  3. My favourite type of humour :) The kind that makes you stop and think.

    I still can’t get that “eyeballs, eyeballs…” entry of yours off my mind. I’m not sure it was meant to be humorous, and the feeling itself isn’t funny, but it made me giggle to hear it said ‘out loud’. I wish everyone who ever told a child “LOOK at me when I talk to you!” had to read that.

  4. tinted: Unfortunately, not being willing/able to drive a car has been quite a handicap in the US for even longer. It’s really sickening.

    As for the original post? Classic. That sort of humor by inversion (is there even a term for that?) has always been entertaining to me.

  5. Pingback: Autism Blog Web Design Blog: » Stupid Eugenics

  6. Very witty. I’m still smiling.

    I wouldn’t say this in front of chair challenged people since they are so sensitive to their abilities / disabilities. But don’t you feel sorry for them: they have to look for a chair while we are sitting in the best chair in the place. It’s always with me. My chair has 81 little air balloons supporting my butt, the chair turns around on a dime and can take off like a scalder rocket. And after the annual firework display I just turn on my lights and zip up through the traffic jam to get home.

  7. Pingback: Accommodating the Normals « Andrea’s Buzzing About:

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