Words, their meanings, what they mean to us as individuals and how they are wielded as social weapons/tools, vehicles of assumption, enforcers of hierarchy and all sorts of other forsaken, collaborative, sociocultural constructs, provide ample fuel for for conceptual and reflective enlightenment. The ability of definition or naming to influence our assumptions or opinions about a text/person/concept/thing is at all at once banal,astounding and exceedingly pervasive.
Over the past few days I have been exploring my personal assumptions around the ideas of participation and accessibility. (ergh, what a word.) It appears that accessibility is a term in need of desperate re-framing both within our culture and within my head. Accessibility in my perspective, is buried. trivialised and stigmatised beneath a mountain of un-savoury constructs relating to people pleasing, pandering, political correctness, disability, highly literal meta-narratives, the dumming- down of academia, literature and thought, participation, tall – poppy syndrome, participation,rank , grading, assessment structures, tokenism, self-doubt, embarrassment, social promotion of extroverted personality types, ice-breakers, socially mortifying experiences … the list goes on. In short accessibility is not a very positive,generative or pleasant concept in my personal dictionary.
Lately, I have been challenged to re-frame this word to be included in the realm of what I would term “being heard”. The word or phrase for when someone or something gets you. Speaks to you. Both in a trans- temporal sense : across vast differences of time,place, displacement of place, through inanimate /non- human mediums, And in a very temporary,immediate, time-based ,site specific, location based, conversational sense. To hear,or to be heard,is a concept which carries much a more postive/welcoming aura, classifications and definition for me. In re-framing/broadening my awareness of ‘ accessibility’ I am coming to view it/be aware of a contradictory definition of it as a facet of the concept distilled in the Sanskrit phrase ‘namaste’, Which essentially communicates the idea that ‘ I acknowledge the part of you that is the same as the part of me’ . Though I doubt I will ever feel entirely comfortable using the particular word ‘accessibility’ in an entirely favourable ,entirely un-skeptical, manner, this re-framing of the concepts embodied in the term has been a most beneficial and enlightening experience in driving my practice forward.
– Never underestimate the power of language.