HomeaccommodationHow One Simple Question Highlighted Changed Perception

Back when I was working in retail the first time, I didn’t know much about learning differences or neurodivergence in general. I hadn’t thought to study dyslexia, and was stuck in survival mode most of the time.

Now that I’m again working in a store part-time, I’m a little surprised at how much of a difference that independent study has had.

Yesterday, a customer wanted to know if we carried pens with built-in rubber grips or slide on grips. He had trouble writing, because he had a habit of pushing down so hard with  the pen that his hand cramped.

A stainless steel pen with a bright green rubber grip on it.

via flickr

Right away, dyspraxia came to mind, though I didn’t say anything about it, because it’s never a good idea to assume anything.

What struck me was that the manager who replied to my question had never heard of them. It just boggled my mind that she didn’t even known they existed after I explained what they were.

It shows the divide that forms between people who have never had to think about specific forms of accessibility and those who do. I grew up using them, because I had a hard time learning how to hold a pen. Since I’ve been having some tendonitis pain, I’ve been thinking of picking them up again.

Back when I worked in stores before, I don’t think I would have even recognized that gap. I’d probably have thought it was strange that there are people who didn’t know about them, but I wouldn’t have thought of the larger issue.

Accommodation comes in many forms. Even pencil grips, used most often by kids learning how to hold a writing utensil, help make writing easier for adults as well.

It also reminds me of the ongoing misunderstanding of products which “promote laziness”, like pre-peeled oranges. People with fine motor problems or chronic pain can’t peel fruit, but they still deserve to be able to eat it.

It’s a good idea to take a step back and look at things from a disabled point of view before making judgements on these things. The problem is, people who only know about disability through feel good stories, stereotypes and news stories, don’t know how to do that.

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