This post was written by 2015 graduate, Rachael Mozetic.
Throughout my last few years in the Disability Studies Program, I have been fascinated with the subject of motherhood and disability. The roots of ableism and its influence on our culture’s obsession with neoliberal “fit mothering” has always sparked my interest however; now as I enter into motherhood myself I find the subject especially significant. Recently, while in the throes of meticulously decorating my modern ‘woodland themed’ nursery for my son, Griffin I noticed how inaccessible my space was. Not only was the crib and change table obviously designed without even a passing thought of individuals with mobility impairments; but my car seat and stroller were ridiculously complicated contraptions requiring not only focused practice sessions but exceptional fine motor skills.
The more I thought about the inaccessibility of baby furniture, the more I noticed how the entire baby industry is designed with the hegemonic ideal of the perfect mother: fertile, straight, young, non-disabled, married, striving for perfection, and well-off financially. I realized this ideal displayed itself in the sale and marketing of consumer products, as well as the attitudes of many people. The current discourse of pregnancy idealizes the effortless addition of newborns into non-disabled independent nuclear families and harshly discriminates against parents who utilize supports.
For my thesis, I wanted to create a space that flipped the narrative of disempowerment and disablement by creating a website that celebrates pregnancy and new parenthood for people labeled with impairments. My website, Accessible Parenting hopes to expose the everyday systematic ableism parents with impairments face and promote diversity in parenting through the sharing of practical resources. Relevant information for parents in Toronto and the surrounding area such as; supports, accessible baby items, agencies, funding, childcare, online forums, and information about choosing a healthcare provider are all covered. This website is not intended to serve as a “How-to”, but rather a collective of information that could not have been made possible without the valuable contributions of people with lived experience that helped guide and shape my research. So if you have some information you can share, or are a little bit curious, come join us at www.accessibleparenting.squarespace.com !