This went up on my old blog about a year ago. Reposted for Epilepsy Month.
They're everywhere. But they don't need to be. It's actually probably illegal for them to be as many places as they are.
Yeah, I get that I can't go clubbing. I don't care that I can't go clubbing, particularly. But I do care that walking through downtown is fraught with hazards. Not just being chased down the street by aggressive panhandlers (true story) or someone taking a stoplight as a suggestion or thinking they've got right of way on a right turn because they're bigger (that happens too), but 10 Hz lights.
They're on emergency vehicles, which I don't really get. You're going to create another emergency on the way to your already existing one, buds. There are other flash frequencies if you just can't give that up, I promise! There are whole STUDIES on what's least likely to trigger seizures in epileptic people. Since police officers are reluctant to, oh, read medical IDs, really, it's in their best interest to just stop triggering seizures already. And paramedics? It's damned irresponsible of you to leave so much havoc in your wakes. You should know better.
They're the way of alerting pedestrians (you know, people who don't drive? In this great state, incidentally, Thou Shalt Be Seizure Free for at least a year to drive legally) that someone is pulling out of a parking garage. Someone who feels they have right of way because their SUV outweighs you by a couple tons. Yep! Mid aura I am TOTALLY paying attention to that strobe light. I'm looking for the fastest way past it, which is a straight line. Past the SUV. And I *get* an aura.
The public transit system has been failing pretty hard too. I will end the next driver who flashes his lights at me. I will end more ferociously the next who tells me to get a strobey thing so as to be seen. I wear neon orange hoodies. They can see me, and I can actually function while wearing one! Amazing! The lights on the trains tend to flicker while going over bridges. And yesterday, they were giving strobe lights to bikers. What. The fuck. Steady beam, motherfuckers, you can use one.
Bikers, you aren't superior either. Your headlight? 10 Hz. I don't really care that your bike is greener than a bus. Your headlamp makes me want to call you horrible nasty things, assuming I can summon the language. Why does it need to flicker at all? Is there a reason for that? A sizeable portion of my first million, and hipster/socially aware bragging rights, to the first person to make a neurologically friendly lamp. I'm sick of having this conversation IRL, and sick of justifying to near total strangers "you're in good shape. Why don't you do the commute by bike thing?". "well, you see, ending up a mangled mess because I lost awareness of my surroundings because of my own headlamp isn't how I want to be remembered". "you'd be fine". "no. I wouldn't. And you don't matter enough to me for a demonstration".
And then, in the most ill conceived idea in the history of ill conceived ideas...and there have been a lot...some either extremely ignorant or extremely hateful jackass decided that the ideal thing to put on a fire alarm is a FUCKING STROBE LIGHT. Not a red light. Not something changing colors. A fucking EEG grade strobe light. Yes, a visual something is needed to be accessible to the Deaf. That doesn't mean that folks with epilepsy need to die of smoke inhalation/status epilepticus/wandering straight into flames because of the direct effects of a supposed safety device. Fuck that with the business end of a rake. It's not acceptable.
Now go point this out to an 'enlightened' person. I live in a liberal city. There are a lot of them. "But you don't, you know, have a DISABILITY". 'Scuse me? Pretty sure that's not your call, sweetcakes, and if all these things are barriers--and they are dangerous barriers--that's textbook social model (not to mention all the medical crap with epilepsy). Then there's all the crap about if it's that bad, don't go places, or THOSE places, or don't go there alone.
Yeah. No. This is what accessibility means. There's no reason I shouldn't be able to walk down my street, or from place to place downtown, alone. The flashing lights all over are the barrier. They're not even a difficult barrier to change, if people get past "that's the way it is"ness. I'm not asking to go to a dance club safely. I want to know that walking through public areas of my city isn't going to send me home dazed, confused, headachey, crabby, and postictal.
That should be a right. It should go without saying. Is it really that much to ask?
I don't have photosensitive epilepsy, but those lights are extremely disorienting. So they pull me out of the classroom before the light goes off, and I guess I have to hope someone's feeling charitable enough to save my life if a real emergency arises, or am lucky enough to not have the severe effects that day and time.
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