Monday, October 8, 2012


I've been sitting at the computer most of the day, doing some SEO work on the gardening web site. Actually, that's a lie. it was SEO work plus a side-trip to the Y to swim some laps and then Trader Joe's. 

But anyways. Winding down this evening, I had no plans to get back on the computer tonight. My plan was to vegetate, finish reading the Sunday paper and watch some Hawaii 5-0. Then I came across an article about Chicago Ideas Week. Its labs, panels, speakers with recognizable names (think Tom Brokaw, Colin Powell, David Gregory, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Deepak Chopra, Elle Macpherson) and other events are meant to inspire, motivate, and even give attendees a glimpse at what makes things click behind the scenes. Sounds great, especially for only $15 per session, doesn't it? 

A column in Sunday's Chicago Tribune caught my eye:,0,1772869.column

And then I saw something that just sparked something. Not anger, just a bit of a sensitive nerve. That little nerve that's been there since I lost my hearing when I was 5. The one that I've worked hard to make less sensitive, but is still there -- and will always be there. It's just who I am, and I've made peace with it, but it doesn't mean I can't say, "Hey, you know what? Don't forget about me!"

I don't know how you use the word accessibility. I suppose for most people, they don't think twice about it. For me, it means -- will I be able to understand what's going on, or will I need an interpreter, or will I just have to nod and pretend I understand what's going on? Will the movie or be captioned or transcribed? There are so many "little things" in a deaf "(or any other handicapped/disabled) person's life that add up to big things. So when people begin throwing around the word "accessible," well, they need to back up their choice of words. 

My point? Two different quotes in the article used the word accessibility, and while I do realize they probably were trying to emphasize the "affordability" of the events, it just rubbed me the wrong way. Nowhere on the website did they indicate if any events would be interpreted or how requests could be made. 

"The tone, the structure of what we've done in terms of accessibility and price point, the programming, the inclusiveness -- there's nothing like this." -- Brad Keywell, co-founder and director of Groupon

"The long-term vision of Ideas Week is that we are this accessible platform that really anybody can plug into at a $15 price point." -- Chicago Ideas Week Executive Director Jessica Malkin

Hey, Chicago Ideas Week? Here's a great idea for a topic in 2013: accessibility and inclusiveness. There is a huge customer base that many industries are missing. I'm sure you would have no problem finding speakers. 

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