how do i ask for accommodations for accommodations?
May 17, 2017
I think I have the necessary paperwork and whatever to formally ask for accommodations at work. Yay, right? Except that no, not really. I find it amusing (in that it makes me want to scream way) how inaccessible these processes are. One of the questions asked in the form I filled out was: what limitation is preventing you from access X program?
Thus, the screaming.
First problem: finding information about that program on their website is impossible. Clicking on the links takes you to pages that aren’t what they ought to be. Second problem: my union/unit doesn’t have access to this program (at least not according to the scant information I managed to find). Third problem: I’m too fucking autistic.
That last point is particularly amusing to me because bureaucratic procedures tend to be very rule based. And, at its best, it usually comes with clear instructions outlining what you need and what needs to be done. Given that I definitely work best in a situation with clear instructions and, hell, with numerical steps outlined. This? I can do.
Sadly, though, bureaucracy isn’t actually like this. There are steps, sure. But information is scattered and usually very difficult to access. It used to be that you’d call into a place and end up being transferred from one person to another in an endless loop because no one was able to help with your problem.
The internet should have made this better. What with hyperlinks and pages you could refer to. Except that, no, things can’t be that easy. Instead you enter a labyrinth of links and pages one that, even for an Information Professional like me, is nigh on impossible to work your way out of. Now I suddenly wonder what Jorge Luis Borges would’ve thought re: labyrinths and government (or university) websites.
Another question asked in the form is whether or not I’ve previously had or sought out accommodations. Setting aside the fact that all of my diagnoses are relatively recent (in the past five years), situations like this are precisely why it is only now that I’m trying.
Look. For years as a student I had some form of health insurance. Except that I never went to the dentist or accessed the insurance in any way. Why? Because I don’t understand how these things work and honestly didn’t (still don’t) have the capacity to figure it out.
Of course, this particular issue (like many) is more complex than it being just about autism and mental illness. It is a common narrative for new immigrants and their children to fall through the cracks of the system because we don’t know how to navigate it.
I had no one to show me how to apply to university. This was relatively easy. My mom kept saying, “apply for scholarships!” except that I didn’t know how. I didn’t even know who to ask to find out how1. This goes on with finding a family doctor, accessing my student insurance, and accessing other social benefits that I might’ve qualified for.
So why can’t I use x program? Or why haven’t I had accommodations in the past?
Because this shit is so fucking inaccessible. And, like, there doesn’t seem to be a way to go “can u make this more accessible?”. I need accommodations in order to seek accommodations. But given how bureaucracy works this ends up in an infinite recursion. Soon I’ll need accommodations for the accommodations necessary for seeking accommodations. And so on.
I’m not the first to remark on any of this or to complain. But like. This shit always needs to be highlighted because it is the height of ridiculous that the kind of people who need to access these services are exactly the sort of people who have the most trouble accessing them.
This was in the pre-google days when searching for stuff on the internet was not an efficient or even good way to find critically important information (nor did the internet have the volume of information that it currently has). ↩