Yesterday morning on my way to an interview I stopped by @Foyles in Waterloo to go look for a book to read during the journey (any excuse to buy a new book). Naturally, given my new work as a young adult writer, and because I feel that YA literature is the best lit currently out there, I headed straight to the YA and children’s book corner. I was met with obstacles: two plastic displays meant to sell more books make it impossible to reach the corner of the bookstore where all young people are meant to have easy access to books.
When I enquired about this to the manager on duty I was told ‘yeah, it’s a problem. There’s not much to be done about it.’
Really? It’s not that hard. Move the two displays and open up the whole section. Doesn’t really take a feng shui expert to figure that out.
When I confronted @Foyles about this on twitter they said: “@athenastevens We looked at many access options, but after consultation with Network Rail, realised that none of them were feasible.”
So @Foyles just decided to make it so that young people with disabilities and moms with prams can’t get to books geared towards them? The two most vulnerable populations who need books to calm their little ones or escape into a world that doesn’t discriminate against them, why should they have easy access to books? Not good enough. And what does Network Rail have to do with how you set up your shop? Stop hiding behind a third party to save face on Twitter.
The store itself is on two levels, the upper floor is not accessible by wheelchair. I’m not complaining about that, although it is a problem. But as a YA author myself, I am outraged that @Foyles would dare to make books for young people inaccessible. Move the section! Put books for young people in a more accessible location! Or better yet, get rid of the gaudy displays and solve the entire problem in one fell swoop.
Young people with disabilities have enough to tackle without feeling like bookstores are against them.
In my mind this illustrates just how deeply ingrained ablism is in our society and the lengths we need to go to fix it. In 2015 there is no reason for a bookshop such as @Foyles to think it’s ok to allow their young people’s section not to be wheelchair friendly. There’s no excuse. It’s time to start calling such behaviour out for what it is and using the internet to make it known that this is not OK. Maybe we can start using social media to stop practises that exclude people with disabilities simply because doing the right thing isn’t “feasible.”
If you have run into similar discrimination use #NoHumansAllowed on Twitter to tell me about it. In the meantime, I’ll figure out what I can do here. This is wrong.
Let it be a Brave New World out there. Every Day.
The Period Route
March 24, 2017
Subtitles? Transcriptions? The debate with disability and media