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Communication is a two-way street
By Nancy Baye


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As senior editor, my job is to be a stickler for the standards set for our brand. But there’s a conundrum when I worry about when changes that might be seen as disrespecting how contributors expresses themselves. I never want to do that, quite the opposite. Editors are often caught between loyalty to style consistency and the voice of their contributors. It’s a pickle. For example, when a writer puts quotations around words to indicate they’re being tongue-in-cheek, I must remove those quotation marks, which our style only uses for direct quotes. That happened in this issue, turning “normal” into normal.

But what is normal anymore? As it pertains to people, to life, hasn’t normal become an unnecessary word?

This issue was steered by Guest Editor Angela Lynn, who navigated us through the world of auditory challenges, and how they affect travel. When she used the term people with abilities, I felt that zing of empowerment—focus on ability, not disability.

I held the thoughts—what is normal, what is ability?—as I paged through our articles. Lori Roach details how she uses the term hearing impaired to convey her situation. She found that her preferred term, hard of hearing, can lead to uncomfortable communication, so she avoids using it. Diane Lisanti unpacks why it’s often preferable for her to lip-read, citing that when people speak to her loudly, their sound and lip movements distort, leading to poor communication.

We’ve long heard about how people with disabilities carry the onus to adapt. Why is it that they must bend to the abled world and not the other way around? If there is no normal anymore then who is supposed to twist and curl around what?

A further note on adaptation, from Mrs. Sariah Ibrahim, reminds travellers to understand and respect the local people and culture they venture into. She adds, “Tolerance, regardless of differences in religion or race, is crucial.” Now we were on fire—including all spectrums of normal and ability, plus all cultures and creeds! Our writers, bloggers and vloggers continue to remind us that we have much to learn about the humans who share and move around our global village.

When contributors addressed the topic of tech, with Yash Romilus describing how Siri enables her to travel and communicate with ease as a DeafBlind adventurer, another light bulb went off—what a time we live in, with technology exploding, creating more and better ways for us all to communicate.

And there’s no reason for that to be a one-way street.

When Angela celebrated smartphone technology, which enables communication between Deaf and hearing people, but also between most any languages, she posits a provocative idea—apps for hearing people who enter the Deaf world. What a chance for us all to spin the norm! While people with disabilities fight to break down barriers to the normal world (it is hard not to add quotations here!), developing and utilizing technology, bending to communicate, carving new frontiers and pushing boundaries . . . I have to ask, what are abled people doing to explore the world of people with disabilities?

I’d embrace an app that allowed me to employ sign language when I encountered a Deaf person – after all why should they have to adapt to me? I’d love an app that offered appropriate verbiage and insights on how to assist any person with any challenge. Just a quick reference and voila, I’ve made the effort to accommodate someone else. How’s that for normal, for ability, for respect?

Accessible Journeys would love to hear your thoughts on this. We’re all on this journey of humaning together, let’s use all advances at our disposal to lift one another up, and to explore the world without limits for anyone.

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