Profile picture
Ada Hoffmann @xasymptote
, 23 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Today I feel like making a thread on the topic of HOW TO DETECT CURB CUTS.

A.k.a. "I'm able-bodied. This thing is for disabled people. Can I use it?"

The answer is not always no! You can often figure it out by asking yourself just 2 additional questions.
First, some background - the "curb cut" effect is a well known effect in which something is designed to help disabled people but turns out to help other people too.

Curb cuts are those places on street corners where the sidewalk curb slopes gently down to the street.
Curb cuts are useful for people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

They also make life easier for parents pushing strollers, travelers pulling wheeled suitcases, and other folks who happen to be traveling on the sidewalk with something heavy.
So, because curb cuts are useful for everyone, they become even more popular than they would have been if they only benefited disabled people, and are used in more places... which further benefits disabled people.
Some disability accommodations are reserved for only disabled people. But others are part of a curb cut effect, where not only is it ok for abled people to use the thing, it is actually helpful for them to do so.

How do you tell which accommodations are which? Two questions.
(As a side note, I identify as disabled and try hard to educate myself, but I don't have every disability, so the following analysis may miss something. Grain of salt.)
QUESTION 1: Is this thing a limited resource?

Disabled parking spaces are an example of a limited resource. There are only a few in any parking lot. When they are used up, they are used up (until someone leaves).

Not every thing is limited in the way that parking spaces are.
Closed captions are an example of an UNlimited resource.

Once a video file is given closed captions, an unlimited number of people can view them anytime.

A hearing person watching a video using closed captions is not somehow taking those captions away from a Deaf/HoH person.
So closed captions are an example of a curb cut. They benefit Deaf/HoH people, they benefit people with auditory processing issues, they benefit people who are watching in a noisy environment or who just happen to like them. And there is enough for everybody.
On the other hand, disabled parking spaces are *not* a curb cut, because if an abled person uses one, there is a disabled person now cannot.

(Some disabilities are not visible. Please don't police strangers' use of resources like this. Just keep it in mind for yourself.)
There are gray areas where a resources is limited but large.

If an item is being mass produced by a large company, for example, this usually means there is enough of it for everyone, but not always. It can get complicated.
On to QUESTION #2:

Does your (an able-bodied person's) use of the thing inconvenience disabled people in some way?

This is less about what the thing is, and more about what you are doing with it in the moment. Example to follow.
Ramps are an example of an unlimited resource - in theory. Walking up a ramp doesn't stop wheelchair users from going up after you.

BUT, if you stop on a ramp to chat with someone and block the way for wheelchair users, that is a problem.
It is more of a problem than it would be if you stopped to chat with someone and blocked the way on stairs.

Able-bodied people can go around you using any of the routes available. Disabled people often have just the one ramp, and if it's blocked, they are stuck.
By asking yourself these two simple questions, you can allow yourself to use assistive technologies guilt-free and in a way that helps disabled people instead of hurting them!
Two important side notes before we wrap up the thread. One is about disability and appropriation.

I often hear people asking if they are being appropriative by using something that was originally for disabled people.

IMO, this is not the right question to ask.
I am white and Anglo, so I am not the right person to talk about what is and isn't cultural appropriation, but different oppressions do not always function in exactly the same way, and using things meant for disabled people isn't the same as using things from a colonized culture.
As we have seen, using things meant for disabled people can be helpful or hurtful, depending on just a few very simple contextual factors.

IMO thinking about these contextual factors is more useful than trying to define what appropriation means for disability.
My second side note is about self-diagnosed and questioning disabled people.

In my experience these people are often the most concerned about disability appropriation. They should not be.

Lacking a specific diagnosis doesn't mean your needs are not valid.
Some things that are meant for disabled people are inherently restricted based on diagnosis. For example, if you need formal accommodations in college, they will ask to see your diagnosis papers. (I disagree with this, but it's how it works generally right now.)
But if a thing is freely available (or easily purchased) regardless of diagnosis, and you don't have a diagnosis, but you feel that the thing is helpful for you or that you need it?

Go ahead and use the thing. Please.

Your needs are valid.
I hope this thread has helped demystify the topic of when you can use a thing that is meant for disabled people.

It is a topic I see a lot of fear and confusion about but it is usually pretty simple!

Thanks for reading.
This appears to have mildly blown up, so here's a plug.

I am an autistic SFF author. Did you know I have a Patreon? It includes disability writing prompts and autistic book reviews. Help support me making more useful things like this one!
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Ada Hoffmann
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!