This piece, by Mia Mingus, was shared with us by Aimee Louw, a freelance journalist, writer, consultant, filmmaker, and radio host. Aimee has worked with us in the past with accessibility in the university and is part of the growing accessibility advocacy community in Montreal and Canada, focusing on accessible transit and cultural spaces, and participating in consultations with the Federal Government on forthcoming accessibility legislation. After co-facilitating our inter-realities community consultation, Aimee offered us this piece of writing for reflection, feeling that it aligned with what was shared during our open discussion.
Mia Mingus is a national disability justice and transformative justice leader, writer, educator and community organizer. In the piece Access Intimacy: The Missing Link Mingus builds up an understanding of access intimacy which Mingus describes as:
“that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else “gets” your access needs. The kind of eerie comfort that your disabled self feels with someone on a purely access level. Sometimes it can happen with complete strangers, disabled or not, or sometimes it can be built over years. It could also be the way your body relaxes and opens up with someone when all your access needs are being met. It is not dependent on someone having a political understanding of disability, ableism or access. Some of the people I have experienced the deepest access intimacy with (especially able bodied people) have had no education or exposure to a political understanding of disability”.
Mingus’ access intimacy describes and gives words to the trust necessary to the process of building accessibility in our spaces and relationships. In building up this ‘elusive concept’, Mingus offers us a new lens through which to understand and strive for access. And while Mingus is speaking explicitly from personal lived experiences as a physically disabled person, Mingus’ understanding of access intimacy can extend between communities and their intersections, it can:
“also happen in many different ways for mamas and parents, women of color, queer and trans folks, etc… Anyone can experience access intimacy”.
The rest of the article is worth checking out as a tool and as something to consider for integrating into all of our organizing work. The rest of Mingus’ blog is also an incredible resource for those hoping to learn more about disability justice and strategies for understanding and interrupting ableism in the university but also and especially in our own communities and movements.