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Issue #1908      March 23, 2020

Letter

Coronavirus and Accessibility

Many workplaces have responded to mitigating the spread of coronavirus by letting people work from home. This is a way to avoid unnecessary contact and travel while the threat of coronavirus breaking out into the community is still a concern.

Observing this trend in telecommuting and the stocks of the video conferencing company, Zoom, steadily increase since February is incredibly frustrating for a disabled person to witness.

How many times have I sat at home, surviving on Centrelink scraps, wishing just one workplace would hire me and allow me to telecommute on days I have flare-ups? How many of us have heard that telecommuting is a luxury that only upper management can afford? How many times have disabled or chronically sick workers voiced accessibility concerns and have just been shrugged off and told that physical presence in the office is important for some vague notion of morale? Try having “morale” travelling to and from work in peak hour when you don’t have the ability to stand for more than 5 minutes.

I have lecturers at university openly voice their frustration at having to record lectures. They openly describe those of us who rely on recorded lectures as lazy and doomed to receive poor marks just because we study at home where our needs can be met. If my university ends up shutting down or restricting contact due to coronavirus concerns, I wonder how much of my subject material will suddenly be available to me. Material I’ve missed out on before because I was too sick to leave my bed.

I’ve seen accounts of disabled workers being forced into physical labour because office work (work sitting down) has more prestige and so is reserved for those climbing up the corporate ladder. Those jobs should be ours. Telecommuting should be for us, not for the Boss Man.

It frustrates me to see accessibility benefitting those who never had to fight for it. If we listened to disabled people, we would already be prepared for these situations. Accessibility would already be set up, and all of us would benefit from it, not just disabled workers.

I know that my chance of ever landing an accessible job that allows for disability leave and telecommuting is extremely low. Even if the current system does wake up to accessibility, it will never guarantee that I’ll get a job that suits my needs. The only hope in having guaranteed accessible jobs is if we topple the capitalist state and distribute work based off needs.

Anonymous

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