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Beware: At work, Even The Fun Can Be Inaccessible

July 7, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

I wrote the following e-mail to my boss and another coworker concerning an incident that took place this afternoon here at the office. Not only are a number of aspects of my job inaccessible, but it seems that even the occasional opportunities to have a good time can be inaccessible, too.

Hi Don and Russ,

This morning, Don, you gave me one of those poker chips as a reward for my job performance. Shortly after noon, I agreed to participate in a ping pong tournament. Later, around 1:15, Russ, you took that chip back as an “entry fee” for participating in the tournament. If I didn’t have one, apparently, I would have been charged a dollar. Now, guys, I’m sure this was all explained somewhere in printed form, but, alas, I am a blind person who is physically unable to drive or read print. I can do anything else you can do except for those two things. I agreed to participate in the ping pong tournament because I was invited and it sounded like fun. None of this was explained to me at all! I am held responsible for something without it first being fully explained to me. This happens in other situations, such as the occasional potlucks we have, where I find out at the last minute strictly because nobody bothers to send an e-mail or otherwise provide me with this information in a format other than the apparent printed signs, sign up lists, etc. I have mentioned these issues in the past, but things continue to happen. Don’t worry. This is not urgent or otherwise work related. It only impacts my ability to fully participate in the occasional fun things we do here in the office. I just want you to understand that, when things like this happen, I feel disrespected and offended. Please understand that my only issue is that I can’t see anything. That means I need to receive information in electronic or some other nonprinted form and that, from time to time, you might just need to explain things to me before I make my decision to participate or not. In this situation, my decision to relinquish the chip, or pay the dollar if I didn’t have one, was taken away from me because I participated without having this information. I feel really frustrated, hurt and upset when my ability to make decisions in my life is impacted by information that wasn’t provided to me in a form I could use. I am expected to know these things, yet how can I know when it is sitting out somewhere in only printed form? It isn’t just or right. Oh, well, life just goes on and on, and this is sadly oh so typical. Thanks for your time.

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