Emily: Hi, I’m Emily Ladau.
Kyle: I’m Kyle Khachadurian
E: You’re listening to another episode of The Accessible Stall.
K: What are we going to talk about today, Emily?
E: Well, we’re going to talk about some buttons and the MTA, but we’re not going to do it by ourselves.
K: We’re not?
E: We’re going to do it with one of our favoritepeople.
K: Oh my God. Who could it be?
E: Can you introduce yourself, mystery guest?
Jessy: Hi,guys. I’m the mystery guests. I’m Jessy Yates. I’m an actor, performanceartist, disability advocate, professional disabled person, and New York City resident. So, that’s who I am. I’m so stoked to be here.
K: We’re stoked to have you.
E: We are so stoked to have you, but promote yourself a little more,girl, because you do some pretty baller stuff. We want to know what you’re up to you right now.
J: Great. I’m about to embark on a three-month journey to live in the woods in western Massachusetts and do a Williamstown TheatreCompany’s acting company. I’m a professionallytrained actor. I studied and recently graduated at NYU foracting, and then I just moved out to Brooklynlike a parody of all of the NYU arts students do. I am now doing freelance accessibility and diversity consulting work. I am on staff at a disability-based organization. Then when I am not doing day jobs and money jobs, I am actually a burlesque performer and I perform under their nameCerebral Pussy. So, that’s something fun and wacky. When I come back in September, there will be a whole slew of Cerebral Pussyand Jessy Yates performances coming out. I actually am working on a couple of new projects. If you guys follow me on the social media, you can stay up to date on all the sluttiest, disabled-est, disabled-est–
K: How can anyone say no to that?
E: I mean, can you all see why we love Jessy now? I know you can’t see her, but if you could–
K: We can’t see her either, but don’t worry.
E: We also love Jessy even though we can’t see her.
J: But I can promise you that it’s hot, it’s good. Keep it right, keep it tight.
K: Can I tell you a small story?
J: Yes. I love small stories, alsolong stories.
K: We wanted you to be a guest since like day four, and Emily and I thought it would be really funny because we used to not curse on the show. Emily and I thought it would be very funny to introduce you as Cerebral Pussy and have that be the first bleep that we ever put out. But then we got mad at something and ruined that whole thing.
J: Wait, what was theshows that broke it all?
K: I don’t remember. We’ll find it.
E: It was probably early on.
K: It was something stupid.
J: Mostly everything or forever.
K: Pretty much.
E: We were a little bit more family friendly in the beginning.
J: I can assure you that [0:03:28crosstalk]Cerebral Pussy loves families. She loves.
K: That’s going to be the tagline for this episode.
J: CerebralPussy loves families?
K: Yeah. Why not?
J: I mean, I don’t know.
K: I don’t know how you could possibly take that out of context.
J: [0:03:42inaudible]I have a progressive family. I don’t know.
K: I do.
J: Moms, dads, daddies? [0:03:50crosstalk]
E: I have a progressive family,like my immediate family,and that’s about as far as that goes.
K: Oh No. My extended family is the exact antithesis of– uh-uh.
J: Oh, yeah. I have a very, veryconservative family. I’m from like the Midwest,and my family loves God and that’s great. I ran away to New York and became a stripper.
K: You did the right thing.
E: We approve.
J: I have no regrets. Exactly zero regrets.
E: That’s how you live your life. I’m into it, Kyle’s into it. We’re both into it. So, in relation to the fact that you said that you live in New York, now might be a good time to bring upwhatwe’re actually going to talk about today.
J: What, we’re not going to talk about my boobs the whole show?
E: Please go ahead by all means.
K: We could. There’s no real rule.
J: We could. [0:04:51crosstalk]
E: This context has no rule.
J: But that’ll be another episode. We should allocate a full episode to those.
K: Sure, yes. We’ll put it on the schedule. Be like, yeah, episode 37, Jessy’s boobs.
J: I’m in.
E: I found the schedule now, so, coming soon to a podcast app near you. Like we said, yeah, we’re not super family friendly in this episode and we apologize. We should probably put a note about that,Kyle.
E: For our listeners with delicate ear drums. But anyway, so being that all three of us live in New York, we are interested in discussing a little initiative that the Metropolitan Transit Authority…Transit Authority?
E: Transportation Authority?
K: Transit, no Transportation. Yes. Transportation.
E: So, the MTA launched a new program that’s supposed to encourage people to get up for pregnant people, disabled people, and seniors. Their genius idea is that people who arepreggers, disabled,or old can wear a pin that either says, “Baby on board,”or,“Please offer me a seat. Courtesy counts.” Apparently,this is their brilliant solution to solve the rudeness epidemic that plagues the New York City subway and bus system to make people get up simply by pointing to their pin. How do we feel about this?
K: Well, I think that it’s a little stupid because the MTA already has really good PSAs that say that exact same thing,and they’re very well-made and they’re very like nonintrusive. If that doesn’t do it, a button is not going to do it. It’s just stupid. I don’t like it.
J: A thing that I’m realizing is a lot of the time it’s not even a courtesy based issue. It’s literally that there just are not enough seats for people forneed them. I ride the bus every day and I’m a wheelchair user and I take it when I get on the bus, they put up three of the other accessible seats. So that’s three seats that other people with mobility issues who aren’t wheelchair users are losing out on. So, it’s not necessarily always an issue of rudeness. It’s an issue of just literally lack of access and lack of availability. That’s the frustrating thing because they’re putting the onus on the citizens rather than on the actual systems that be.
K: That sounds a lot like something the MTA would do in general. Right? The MTA loves to blame the passengers for everything wrong with the MTA.
J: Yeah. Like tracks fire, your trash was in your [0:07:42crosstalk].
K: Yeah, exactly. Stop throwing your garbage on the track. [0:07:45crosstalk]
J: [0:04:47 A gift]wapper made the entire system shut down.
E: To be fair, don’t throw your garbage on the track.
J: Of course.
K: Last year someone threwan umbrella on the seven train tracks and it shut down the entire train,and we made the news, like stuck on the train. It was awful.
J: Just like maybe come into the 21st century and make tracks that don’t combust into fire as soon as [0:08:08crosstalk].
K: No, they can’t do that Jessy, that’s ridiculous.
E: You actually madea really good point, which is that it’s not necessarily rudeness, although sometimes it is, but it’s also just a matter of lack of available access. That raises the question:how much further with access can they go when the population ofNew York City is so gigantic that they’re already cramming onto subways and buses as is?
J: Well, that’s a really good question. I think it’s a snowball effect because I know half of the disabled people that I know who live in New York don’t actually even takethebus and train system. They use Access-A-Ride, and Access-A-Ride is like so– and that’s a whole other podcast.
K: Access-A-Rideis the devil. [0:09:00crosstalk]
J: I just completely don’t deal with Access-A-Ride, but I think that as far as I know, I’m in the minority of people who commute every single day, who are wheelchair users who don’t use Access-A-Ride. I don’t know why that is because Access-A-Ride, like I can’t even begin to think about waiting three hours for a car that may or may not get you there.I think that as the population grows, so will all mass transportation, but the problem is,with mass transportation in New York, it’s such a…it’s like such a tiny, minuscule amount of that mass transportation is actually accessible. When you get on the train, there’s only one door that a wheelchair user can use, maybe two. It’s the always the door in the center. It’s the one where it says… in the center of the platform it says “wheelchair-accessible”or like “disability boarding area.”
E: I think it says “boarding area” with the little accessible icon symbol.
J: Yeah, and then that’s the one where the conductor can see whether you’re getting on and off. Some trains have the seats that go up that make room for a wheelchair user or like a wheelchair spot. Those are the accessible seats, but in a train that’s 10 to 12 cars long, having two to four of those spotsmeansthat only two to four wheelchair users can use a train line that maybe will house like… God, I don’t even know how many on a pack today, like a thousand of people long.
K: Yeah. Not to mention, depending on when you travel, it might even be physically impossible for you to get into the train [0:11:02crosstalk].
J: That used to happen to me every day when I was going to school last year. I lived up in West Harlem and I was taking the Atrain down every day. I just would have maybe three trains pass me before I could get down to NYU. A lot of the time it’s literally the conductor saying, “No, you can’t get on,” or it’s just like it being really crowded, which is an issue for every New Yorker except that often most New Yorkers can take less space, but for a wheelchair user,you just can’t.
E: Interestingly enough, I would say that the worst experience I’ve ever had with people trying to cram on a train, once I was already on there within DC and I almost got knocked out of my wheelchair because people can’t really see me but they assume that if people are not budging, that instead of waiting for the next train, that actually means push harder to get on this train. They pushed so hard that they were knocking me almost out of my chair, and I had to scream really loud and I’m not comfortable doing that. Not for nothing, but I don’t think that pointing to a pin would have solved my problem in that case.
J: Oh my God. Nothing.
K: Certainly not. No.
J: I don’t think that that’s out of rudeness for New Yorkers. I think that New Yorkers are actually… I don’t know about in other cities, but in comparison… but I think that they’re really kind, actually. I’d been on the bus billions of times, even just in the past year. I have watched countless people give up their seats to somebody who said they needed it or who just looked like they needed it, which is a whole other thing. Or who just like looked like they were struggling. Like people are so willing to do that. I think that it also puts… it takes a lot of personal responsibility away fromthe people with disabilities. I think that people with disabilities, and this is a thing that actually Kyle and I have been talking about for the past couple of days, oftenhadn’t learned personal responsibility. I’m probably going to get into trouble for saying this.
K: I’ll say it. People with disabilities have [0:13:31inaudible]personal responsibility.
E: I have to just ask you,though. I don’t think that Kyle would agree that people will just give up their seats if you ask. I really think that has to do with how visibly you’re struggling.
K: My set of circumstances is a little different, but I have never… I’ve had people volunteer the seat I was sitting in for someone else and asked me to get up and then got pissed when I said no. No one gets up for me on sight. People barely get up if I ask. I do so… I mean, somebody will, yes, but I have to walk up and down the moving train aisle and be like, “Can you get up please?”That’s not even the worst of it. I understand that people… that seat space on a subway train, especially a crowded in one is precious. I get that, but where I struggle, and this is true, the worst situation for me is if a pregnant woman gets on the train and I’m sitting because I don’t get up and I feel like such a jerk. I lock eyes and I try to like telepathically tell her that I need this seat, but then I’m like, why do I feel bad? Everyone around me is also not doing it and they’re probably not disabled, but it’s just this weird thing.
J: It’s also like I go back and forth. Also, I shouldn’t be critiquing the situation because I often don’t need this. Ninety percent of the time,I’m using my chair when I’m on the train. I can also walk and I have done the train walking. My gait is so wobbly that people just like clear and let me sit down because I’m a health hazard to everyone. I think it’s tricky because I think that there should be room and it shouldn’t be taboo and we should be teaching people with disabilities to say without a button, “Hey, I’m disabled and I need this.”
K: You know what? That’s a very good point. Sorry, you weren’t finished.
J: Oh no, it’s fine. I think that it’s also like… it’s a really hard thing to do as a person with a disability to take that vulnerability and say that you need something. I also think that that’s a huge skill that most people with disabilities need to learn. They need to learn to advocate for the things they need.
K: I think asking for a seat on the subway is a fairly innocuous and important way to learn that skill too [0:16:10crosstalk].
E: It’s really difficult to sometimes disclose something to a complete stranger that you might still be struggling to disclose to people in your life. If you’re on a train and you really, reallyneed a seat or even for the pregnancy thing. What are you supposed to say? “Get up I need that seed. I’m pregnant?”
K: No, I don’t say anything. I just say I need the seat.
E: I’m thinking about some of the circumstances in which a person might become pregnant and might not want to say anything about it right awayeven to a complete stranger. I’m also thinking about the circumstances in which someone is newly diagnosed with some kind of disability or chronic illness that makes it so they really need to sit down, but not only are they grappling with it personally, now they’re also like, “Hey, I need you to give up that seat.” In that case, I guess the pin is helpful because it does the disclosing for you, but also it’s problematic because it does the disclosing for you.
J: I think the pin is a great option,especially for the invisibly disabled community. I think that that’s amazing.
K: Or the non-verbal too.
J: I think that probably my biggest worry with the pin is that if you’re not wearing a pin and you say that you need a seat, because you don’t want to wear a pin to brand yourself because disclosing your disability is really sensitive, and is really personal, and you shouldn’t have to disclose your disability because of just literallylegality. So, having to wear a banner that says that is… it just makes me feel like viscerally uncomfortable, but I also think I’m worried that people will be like, you’re not wearing a pin, so I’m not going to give me my seat. That it might set this– precedent.
E: A lot of people might be like, why are you wearing a pin? So instead of like, what’s wrong with you? It’s like, oh, or–
K: Who’d you steal that from?
E: Or assumptions. Yeah, assumptions that people don’t need it, which I admit I’m super guilty of assuming that people in the accessible stall, and I’m not talking about the podcast here, I’m talking about the actual bathroom. I’m super guilty of assuming that anyone who’s in there who’s not in a wheelchair does not need that.
J: That’s a whole other conversation that I definitely have feelings about.
E: At the same time,I need to at least remind myself that not everyone’s disability is visible. I remember just the other day I was at… I went to see the glass menagerie on Broadway… whole other disability conversation in there, but I was waiting for the bathroom. I was waiting for the only accessible bathroom, and a woman was in line in front of me and she felt compelled to tell me that she has a heart condition and couldn’t climb the stairs to get to the regular bathrooms. I was like, okay, fine, you didn’t need to tell me that. I assume if you’re here, you’re here for a reason. Then right after she said that, one of the ushers nodded in my general direction and mouthed,“She doesn’t need to be here.” I was like, you don’t know that.
E: Kind of a tangent, but at the same time, I think it’s all interconnected because it’s like is the labeling system going to help or hurt?
K: Well, I don’t think a labeling system is going to have to test the people who are going to lie. I don’t know why anyone would, but if I’m living in the world the usher’s living in where she doesn’t need to be there and you shouldn’t take her word for it, which I think is gross. I think if somebody says they have a heart condition, you should probably believe them on the off chance that they do. I don’t think that such people are going to be deterred by a button.
J: Well, this brings up the question, how is the MTA going to distribute these buttons? I literally like got denied from a reduced fare metro card because I’m–
K: Me too.
J: — ambulatory.
K: Me too.
J: It’s the biggest bull– system ever. So, are you going to have to have 7,000 letters of documentation of your disability to get one of these buttons? I mean it’s like– plastic button.I could make one in a laminating machine.
E: No, I just pulled it up. It says, “Anyone with a disability, whether temporary or permanent,affecting your need for seating may request one button by filling out a form. Buttons will be mailed inapproximately three weeks. There is no fee or documentation required. Third parties may also participate in the distribution of the buttons.”
K: That actually sounds pretty reasonable.
J: That’s great. The question is what about tourists? I always think about what about disabled tourists.
E: Well I guess you don’t have to be a New York resident to request one, but I guess my question is,if this is so open, is it going to actually have the desired effect?
E: Also, if third party [0:21:18crosstalk].
K: I would rather be open than not. I really would. I think being more open with risk of some people sneaking through is much better than one actual disabled person getting denied. I really do believe it.
J: Getting to know, then saying that you’re not disabled when you are just so disabled. This–
E: Yeah. It also says, people wearing the buttons are encouraged to help spread awareness by posting selfies with the hashtags. “Baby on board and courtesy counts.”
K: That’s just stupid, but whatever. You need a social media component to everything now though. It’s dumb, but whatever,it’sexpected.
E: I think this is well-intentioned. I really don’t think it’s meant to be harmful, but I just wish that something like this did not have to exist in the first place.
J: Well it’s also… I feel like it’s pretty tone deaf. Ithink that right now we’re in a political system where any sort of badgering of a marginalized identity is really, really scary, and I think for them tonot understand that at allis really, really off base.
K: That was my initial hesitation with it to be honest. You both brought up really good points, but when I first saw this,I was like, that’s like the scarlet letter. I don’t want to have that tattooed on me. Not a tattoo, but like I don’t want to have that here.
E: No, I know what you mean. Although, I had honestly not thought about it until I was taking driving lessons several years back, and my driving instructor made a comment about how he thought that I should not get the actual plates thathave the handicap symbol on them, instead of doing the parking placard. Because he said, what if you’re in a dark road and someone’s following you and they see the disabled plates and then they decide that they can take advantage of your vulnerabilitiesand run you off the road and attack you?I was like, well, first of all, that’s the most morbid thing I’ve ever thought. But like– I mean I definitely have the disabled plates. I didn’t listen because I was forgetting to put my placard up and I didn’t want to get a ticket. The point being, are we in a world now where labeling is really that scary? I think so. My mom made me take off my necklace indicating that I’m Jewish. So, I can’t take off my wheelchair, but certainlyIdon’t think a pin is the best way to identify yourself.
K: That’s a good point. I don’t know. I was a sort of brought up with that fear. My dad, he works for the NYPD, so he was always… when I was growing up, like always, “Don’t ever wear any opinion on your shirt.Don’t ever…”like nothing. His reason was for gangs, but it applies to politics too. I have that inme to never ever showcase anything about me outwardly.
J: On the flipside of that, we’re always talking about disability acceptance and disability pride within our community because a lot of people with disabilities don’t even identify as disabled. They don’t feel prideful of their identity. Are we then advocating for people to be afraid of their identity,and shouldn’t we be loud and proud or… I don’t know. Those are a lot of questions.
K: That’s of good question. I think a lot of that is open-ended and I think a lot of that is personal preference. I say all the time on the show that I don’t like the whole disability pride thing, not because I don’t like it. I can appreciate it for what it is, but I just… I do not like the community and what it’s become, so I don’t want to be a part of it. Having said that, obviously I’m still part of it and I’m still disabled, but I mean… and I’m not… I don’t mean to say like I’m blaming everyone but me. I’m sure there’s a ton of personal– that I deal with too that I don’t even know about. Yeah, that’s a very good point. I don’t think that there’s a perfect answer to that, to be honest.
J: Yeah. I think it might be great for the invisibly disabled community who is… I mean they often get the shaft, and the wheelchair accessible symbol is as a universal icon for disability. When you don’t meet the visual of the wheelchair or of the universal sign for accessibility, where is your identity? Obviously, you can use your imagination. You can stretch that and everybody knows what it means.
K: Do they?
J: I think.
K: No, because I see it in Emily all the time and I say it in jest, but it’s also sometimes true that when people talk about accessibility, they don’t.They’re not. They’re talking about wheelchair accessibility.
J: Yes, that’s also true.
K: I think part of that is because the international symbol for accessibility is a little wheelchair stick man.
K: It’s a small part, but still… I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It’s certainly not.
E: It’s a little problematic.
K: Problematic, yes, I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m just saying that people like us, we get forgotten about.
J: Yeah. I think that to have some sort of… I don’t know, visual demarcation if you want it, is great. If you want to have pride in your community and… or not even necessarily pride, but if you want to feel a part of an identity but don’t have a way in, this is maybe great.
E: But is it separating out people who are invisibly disabled versus visibly disabled in the sense that people with visible disabilities or mobility devices or some other identifier that they have a disability and would need you to either get up or move out of the way?I mean, is there some [0:27:01crosstalk].
J: Emily, we can just wear the pins.
E: Yeah, right? I’m not saying like I feel left out of theclub here. I’m almost saying, it’s just further dividing the concept of disability.
K: I don’t know. Well, I can see that. I see where you’re going with that, but I think if you have a visible indicator of disability, then the pin isn’t for you.
K: Not that you can’t have it. Of course you can have it. I don’t care if you want to wear it, but I think a wheelchair is much more loud and effective.
E: Well, I still think that people need to be reminded that courtesy counts. Like that’s…
K: Oh, yeah that’s–
E: That’s true, regardless [0:27:37crosstalk]. I think that people need to know that. I want a bumper sticker for the back of my chair that says courtesy counts if we’re going to be really going for it.
J: If they really want to make a… if they want to make a social media movement like they say they do, that’s one way to– do it. They don’t, they just like want them–
K: They just want selfies.
J: They just want people to give them cookies, basically.
E: Well, I also read in their press release that this is only a pilot campaign from Mother’s Day to Labor Day. It’s going to stop in a few months, but I guess unless it’s successful.
K: Oh man, I want my button before it gets stopped. I want a button.
E: I don’t know. I had to apply for button just so [0:28:19crosstalk].
J: — three weeks.
K: Oh man.
J: You won’t be able to sit on the train for three weeks.
K: That’s okay. I don’t do it now.
E: I’m actually very curious. Although, I would not probably be the right person to be with you for this particular experiment. For you Kyle, to get a button wearitand see if it helps.
K: Oh man, sign me the – up.
J: Probably you have a Go-pro?
K: Yeah, I do.
J: Strap that [0:28:45inaudible]to your chest.
K: Oh my God. If it works.
J: We got social experimenting to do.
K: If it work, I will totally change my… I will totally change my mind about these buttons, if it works. Even just once, I will change my mind.
E: You know what? In fact, I think this is one of those times where we can have like an actual [0:29:03crosstalk].
K: We can actually test it.
J: This is scientific, guys.
K: Oh, holy–
J: This is the scientific method happening on the Accessible Stall.
K: All because of you.
E: [0:29:12inaudible]. I guess my question now is, if I’m with you or Jessy’s with you or,oh my gosh, if two wheelchair users are with you–
J: No, the thing is, Emily, [0:29:24crosstalk]you and I can actually ride the train or the bus together.
K: That’s true.
J: I mean we could, but if we were doing it at rush hour–
K: No, but have you ever seen… I’m sure you have,Jessy, but you know the look on bus driver’s face when he’s faced with two wheelchair users coming out of the bus at the same time.
E: Oh my God. It’s so bad.
K: They just don’t know what to do.
E: I’ve also been completely passed by by bus drivers who just don’t want to deal with me, and I look in and I can see they don’t have anyone in their wheelchair spot.
J: [0:29:56inaudible]a week ago. I was running late for work because of course I was. It was like middle of the afternoon, sono buses were running. Waited 20 minutes for a bus, the bus comes up, and he says, “Eh, I have too many strollers. Wait for the next one.” Another 20 minutes goes by and I… so I waited 40 minutes to get on a bus because there was too many– strollers. Like you can fold up a stroller and put it underneath. I don’t know, but just like–
E: Oh yeah. It’s super unacceptable.
K: You guys got to get on like [0:30:13inaudible]buses, because they fill those things… you know how they say stand behind the white line? No, the white line is a myth. They fill that until you’re bruised from the door.
J: No, I’m really lucky that where my stop is… because I ride the B 38, which goes all across the [0:30:50inaudible].It brings you from basically Ridgewood to downtown Brooklyn. I get on in the Bed Stuy, Bushwick border, and then write it to downtown Brooklyn. As soon as it crosses over into Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, it is packed. I would never be able to get on had I needed to get on three stops later.
E: It’s so interesting that you say that because… I live at the end of the line for the long Island Railroad. No, I’m not going to stay where I live. Just kidding. You can find it on the Internet. I live at the end of the line for the railroad, and so because of that, it’s pretty easy for me to get on the trainalthough they have a terrible system where you pretty much have to go up and down the length of the train and try to find the conductor…
J: For the bridge plate.
J: That’s a pain in the ass.
E: That’s a really terrible system and it’s been very anxiety-inducing, but I always think about what if I was getting on the train in the middle of its run, and then when it only stops at a station for like a minute–
K: Thirty seconds, yes.
E: Yeah. As opposed to the fact that it pullsinto the station and sitsthere for five to 10 minutes before it takes off from my stop.
K: You ever tried to transfer at Jamaica with a wheelchair user?
K: It’s the worst thing in the world, honestly.
E: Honestly, it’s a pain, but what I found is as long as the train is across the platform from it, then I just ask the conductor from the train and he just got me off of to help me get on another train.
K: Yes. If you’re lucky enough to be crossing the platform into your next train, it’s a joy. But if you have to go up the elevator, down the hall, down the elevator, and find yourtrain…
E: I can’t believe that it took us this long to get to this point, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe the buttons are intended to be a good gesture or a good awareness campaign effort, but they’re ignoring the larger effortsof their transportation systems.
J: The fact that there’s a lawsuit?
E: Yeah, unlike how even for the things that there aren’t lawsuits about, it’s completely impossible to get on and off trains, and deal with buses.and there’s so many accessibility issues that just are not being addressed, but they’re like, have a free button.
K: Oh man, I want my free button
J: This whole thing, it’s like I’m so happy for people who need it. It’s fine and it’s great. The MTA shouldn’t… in my opinion, they shouldn’t have to have this campaign. Like people should just be less– or you could get a button online. I don’t know. But I think that the MTA releasing this when they did directly indicates to me that they’re doing it in response to the lawsuit that is happening.
K: That’s a good point.
J: That’s the thing, because the lawsuit happened,what? It was released at the beginning of May, late April. At least that’s when like publicity happened about it. I’m not sure really what their timeline was. I don’t know anything about legalese, but the pilot program for this button system happened mid-May, and that feels fishy to me and that’s why I have been resistant to greet it with open arms.
E: That about sums up how I feel. I just feel like this is some not so thinly veiled attempt to be like, “Well we can’t fix elevators, but we can mass produce buttons.”
K: Well, I mean to be… right here on the conspiracies, but I mean… honestly, what can you do in such a short period of time, even if it were in response–I agree with you. I think that’s a very suspicious timeline.
J: So just own it then. So, just [0:34:41crosstalk], should say.
K: Yeah, I guess you’re right.
J: Look, I know we have an accessibility problem, but this–
E: Here is what we are doing.
J: Here is what we are doing.
K: But here, here’s some buttons.
J: In the meantime, and I stress in the meantime because at the rate that we’re going, it’ll take a hundred years to get off if possible.
K: You exaggerated, you said a hundred years, but did you know–
J: No, I know.
K: — the second avenue subway literally took 94 years to get to this point.
J: I’m absolutely not exaggerating, like there’s a statistic, somebody did the math on it and we should find that article somewhere.
K: Oh my God. Really?
J: Yeah, it would literally take,at the rate that it has been going since ADA has been passed,to make that all elevator, all systems a wheelchair and otherwise accessible. See, here I go again, wheelchair, wheelchair, but just disability accessible. It would take a hundred years.
K: That is depressing. In fact, actually when we did our episode on the New York season lawsuits, which by the way, we really should have had you on for also. I was telling Emily, I said, “You know,my station’s accessible and it’s in the middle of a very non-accessible neighborhood.” So I looked up why.It was because after the ADA was passed, my train station was rated like the second most filthy, so they had to renovate it and they only put the elevator in because the ADA was passed. They didn’t even think about it. They were just like, oh well we have to–
J: Do it.
K: Follow this law now.
J: One of the reasons thatthesecond [0:36:18inaudible]system took so long and was delayed is because they didn’t allocate correct amount of funding for elevators because they realized that if they were renovating the whole thing or in that case making a whole new system, that due to the statutes of the ADA, they needed to make every single stop accessible. But they didn’t realize that,so they didn’t budget it.
K: Well, that’s just stupid.
E: Well, we’re talking about two different things here. On the one hand we’re talking about time and on the other hand, we’re talking about budget and…
K: There’s no excuse for budget. New York City’s a rich city. There’s no excuse. We already tax everything. Thereare zero excuses. I don’t want to hear it.
E: I honestly think that time and structural issues are the major issues here.
K: That’s, well, the company I work for deals with enough of that. That’s true. That’s probably more true than you know. But no, I don’t want to hear about money. There’s money in New York. That’s not–
E: But also, I just wish that things like this button situation, I wish they weren’t awareness campaigns. I wish it was just like, here’s how the MTA is going to work with the disability community to ensure that we’re as accessible for you as possible.
J: I wish that there was just like an onus on what it is, and they had communications with a greater disability community. I know that there are disability advocates and activists and employees working within the MTA. I’m not trying to–on their work, but there is a larger community–
K: There’s a disconnect for sure.
J: Right. Well there’s a community… there is a very strong group of community organizers in New York who are disabled, who are very often ignored and they’re very smart and very advantageous and solution-oriented people. I just don’t understand why you’re not reaching to them to collaborate. I don’t know, it makes no sense to me.
E: I guess… and this is maybe a slightly pessimistic view, but it’s just because we’re such little fish and this giant fee in one of the most populated places in the world.
J: Here’s the thing. I think about thisall the time, Emily. Access-A-Ride costs so much. Like it costs the city so much.If they made things… if they worked on accessibility within the MTA, that cost would,in the long run,be significantly reduced. That to me is like, I can write it off as like, oh, we’re such a small minority and whatever, but we’re a small minority that costs them a lot because of the fact that they are–up.
E: Well, yeah. The reality is that we’re also not a small minority, although small minority sounds redundant, but the reality is that we are the world’s largest minority. No matter how many times we throw that around, it’s true.
K: I know it’s true. I just don’t like that we always say it like it’s something.
J: I know.
E: No, but you know what, it’s not that it’s something. It’s that it’s a fact and that people fail to recognize it.
E: That’s where the problem lies.
J: I think that we get frustrated, we groan about hearing it, because we [0:39:50crosstalk]. We’re always saying it at each other and nobody actually realizes it. It’s one of those dog whistle politics things for us–
K: Yeah, you’re right.
J: — but nobody else actually understands it.
K: I just don’t understand why no one else understands itbecause everyone’s going to get old. The odds of you dealing–
J: That’s shocking to me.
K: Yeah. I guess it’s because people don’t want to come to terms with their mortality or something. I don’t know what it is.
J: It’s like mortality is scary.
E: That’s exactly what it is.
K: I can’t, that’s just… I just, ugh, sorry. That was [0:40:25inaudible].
J: There is a confession that will make me a really terrible person. I have this confession where sometimes I hope that people that I know or whatever, or cool people or taste makers or people within power, become disabled, not in a malicious, I want to watch them die way. I mean maybe… but in like a… nobody will ever advocate for it unless they experience it, which the [0:40:57inaudible]isn’t always right.
K: You’re right. [0:41:01crosstalk].
J: So, I just wish disability. I had a lot of people in my life or that I think could be really influential. Maybe that’s not as fucked up as I thought it was.
K: No, but if Kanye West became disabled, you could bet that accessibility would be cool for a minute.
J: Right, exactly. I just always want to make disability cool because that’s–
K: It’s hard to do.
J: — the only thing… yes andno, I don’t. I’m really interested in how we curate our community and the voices we curate so that we can make disability something like a movement that people are interested in.
K: I’m all for that. I really am.
J: But then I also [0:41:51crosstalk].
K: We do that enough.
J: That would be really problematic because there would be a lot of privilege in the voices that are in the public eye because those cool voices would be the people who would have privilege and access to education and access to bad ass resources and such.
E: You’re actually making me think about… this was already a while ago. This was in 2014, there was an article that came out like an Op Ed in the New York Times and it was called a when wheelchairs are cool and it was responding to–
K: What? Kylie Jenner?
E: No. Kylie Jenner was more recent. This was Justin Bieber was injured and he was using a wheelchair and it caused a bit of a stir, and so this OP Ed writer was like, oh, well probably this is a good thing for the disability community because if Justin Bieber is using a wheelchair, then like everyone else will think that using a wheelchair is suddenly cool, basically.
K: It’s kind of true.
J: It’s directly true,I know that our biggest problem is the fact that we’re not in a cool minority. I mean there are a million other problems, but I know that a lot of our problems would be fixed if our community image were better.
K: I completely agree. Emily, you’re frowning. What are you–?
E: I’m just still–I’m contemplating everything. I just got lost in contemplation for a second.
J: You can disagree with what I’m saying. I know that it can be problematic because it is coming from a place of privilege.I’m like anupper middle class white girl who had an NYU education. So, I—
K: Check, check, check.
J: Yeah. I can shut my goddamn mouth.
K: It’s all right. We do that enough here.
J: What? You shut my mouth?
K: No, not unless you want me to, no. We check our privilege.
E: I am so–
J: This isn’t even checking it.
E: On that interesting note,I would like to wrap this up and get some final takeaways from everyone. Hey,Jessy, what’s your final takeaway?
J: On the buttons, I’m torn because I was really,reallyagainst it and I still viscerally am mad at the MTA for literally everything and for the fact that they stranded me in Columbus Circle this week. I’m just grouchy, but I also have friends that this will help. If one or two good things can come out of it,I guess it can’t hurt, sothat’s my takeaway.
E: I’m in the same spot as you, quite honestly. I’m very frustrated with the MTA for approximately five million reasons, but if I had to give a final takeaway, it would be that I don’t think this is the worst thing I’ve ever seen them do. I don’t love it, but I really can’t find any ill intent here.
K: That’s about mine also. You’ve convinced me to not completely hate the button, so thank you,Jessy. But also, Emily, you weren’t paying attention, but I had a really big–grin on my face because I just ordered my button while the two of you are getting your final takeaways.
J: Yeah, you did.
K: Yeah, no,you guys should do it too.
J: Oh man. I’mleaving forthe next three months. I don’t need a button. I’m going to be gone for the entire pilot program.
J: So, do I sudden– wait, but my question is, after the pilot program, do you suddenly not be disabled anymore? Is that what [0:45:50crosstalk]?
K: Yeah, because obviously you’re not disabled if you don’t have the button. You silly.
J: I know.
E: What if you’re pregnant and then you’re not pregnant anymore? Isyourbuttoning invalid or if [0:46:00crosstalk]?
K: Well, no, [0:46:02crosstalk]because you bring the baby on the train, so the baby would be on board. I’m always… I’m a hundred percent pregnant always. Yeah, two to three weeks. We’ll see if I get the button.
J: Oh, this is so exciting.
E: I’m doing it too.
K: As a little sort of final anecdote, I will say, I used to have an amazing bus driver for the Q 28 bus outside of my college campor one of the building that’s on my college campus, and her name was Loretta Bowie. Like the knife, she used to say, not like David.
K: She always knew that I was disabled. A bowie knife is a kind of knife, but I just thought it was funny that she went for that instead of David Bowie. She always knew I was disabled. I never said a word. She just… I guess shesort of smelled it and she [0:46:47crosstalk]would always make people get up forme. I know, but she did it in a tasteful way and she would make people get up forme. Then there was one time when this old woman who was at least 150 got on the bus and she asked me to move, and she looked at her and she was like,“Not him.”I was like, “I’m calling the MTA and telling them how great you are.”So I did and they got my name wrong. When I saw her the next time I was like, “Did the MTA give you the gold star they told me they gave you?”She was like, “No.” So,I have zero faith in the MTA actually do anything, but this is still a nice gesture.
E: I got a question–
J: That’s still so awesome.
E: — did you get a confirmation form when you submitted?
K: I got a confirmation. It says, “Thank you for your request. Please allowtwo to three weeks.”
E: I didn’t get that. I want my pin.
K: It’s at the top of the page.
E: Oh, I got it, okay.
K: Yeah, there you go. Cool, buttons, right?
J: Buttons. I just want to make my own. It’ll becalled Cerebral Pussy lives here.
K: That you’ll wear it, and wherever you are andwhere you live?
J: ThatI’ll wear. I won’t put it on my house, I’ll wear it.
K: You’ll put it on your entire body.
J: My entire body house.
E: The house of your body.
K: All right.
E: On that note,I think we should wrap it up.
K: Good night,everybody.
E: Thanks for listening, and thanks for being with us, Jessy.
J: Thanks for having me. It was super fun.
E: It was. Yay, bye.