Super interesting post! So bear with me here........but I need some help understanding what it is you are specifically asking for. Let's assume your Government does in fact launch an educational campaign..........and everyone comes to understand that not all disabilities are visual. Then what? Sounds like you're asking for any "restrictions on public washrooms" to be relaxed? But then those without scruples will also get access and screw things up. So you'd need to somehow "authenticate" those with true invisible disabilities from the fakers and a-holes. How do you envision that happening......ID cards or a code on your license? It's getting complicated (and expensive). So I'm just not understanding what the end game is that you are trying to accomplish. Not to mention that those who really need to understand what you are trying to teach them won't be paying attention. So after the education.....what happens next? Again, not poo-pooing your idea......just trying to think it thru to the end.
Bob, good questions. I see this as a long process, ultimately, but it has to start with education. So, what I am asking for is just step one along the continuum. What I would like to see, at some point, is a federal consistency - an overall plan that strives for leveling the field. What we have here is probably much like what you have - a provincial responsibility to oversee the day to day details of how things are implemented. That is fine to an extent, but it creates some inequities too. In Ontario, where I am, we have the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and everyone who is employed in the province must, by law be trained in the subject of inclusion of people with disabilities. One of the issues covered in the training is invisible disabilities. But people forget. And not everyone is employed. So a refresher in the guise of an awareness campaign is another nudge to remind us. While I don't think I could legally be denied access to an accessible washroom here in Ontario, it might be different in another province. So I think some consistency is warranted. I have never encountered a locked accessible washroom here - that doesn't mean they don't exist, but I don't think they are that common. It is also quite common here to see people lining up to use the regular washroom, even as the accessible washroom is vacant. Again, that doesn't mean it never happens that people use the accessible washroom when they shouldn't, but I think generally, it isn't a very big problem, at least at this point. If it becomes a problem, then I guess we would have to address how to deal with it. But hey - we're Canadian. Politeness is our national trope, eh?
Years ago I experienced the rudeness, ignorance and lack of compassion that you are attempting to mitigate with legislation. God, if only it could be so easy. I used the necessary public facilities to correct an issue I was having. Three "ladies" outside at the sinks and mirrors quite loudly voiced their opinions as to my "right" to use the "handicap stall. I listened from inside as I was lambasted for my "arrogance" and my "sense of entitlement" for using a stall that was NEEDED by folks with disabilities. I was embarrassed, but NOT for me. I finished my business and proceeded to exit the stall, walking up behind the three at the mirrors. I had "accidentally" left my pouch clearly visible and I elbowed my way to a place at the sink in front of the mirror. I commented to the room in general, "it's refreshing to witness true understanding and compassion, thank you". I must admit that I took advantage of their obvious embarrassment and took the opportunity to provide a limited education as to just who gets to determine what gets to be called a disability. At least they had the graciousness to apologize and blush.
However, considering the last few years of a world on fire, my faith in humanity has been SORELY SHAKEN. I've always respected our right to different opinions. I've accepted there will always be some self absorbed lack of concern for others, a shortage of understanding and compassion, a lack of societal responsibilities and equality. I must admit that my belief that these qualities and traits are out there has come under a new eye opening assessment. I'm discovering that there are apparently far more selfish people in this ole world of ours than I imagined. Our world has become so divided about so many things that I fear our ability to compromise and come together on ANY front is being severely tested, and we are failing miserably. I have found myself preferring NOT to engage and for me, that is pretty unusual. I will always enjoy intelligent discourse, but my desire for it lessens with each day's news and angry battles, with each day's antagonistic attitudes about all things not about "self". I am hoping that disengaing temporarily will at least allow me to decompress, reassess, and once again actually WANT to participate in growing the place that we are working so hard to create as the perfect world. I am choosing to remember this beautiful country that I have travelled extensively, marvelling at our geographical differences I want to acknowledge and appreciate our differences, those traditions, accents, behaviors, quirks and eccentricities that are singular as well as universal, instead of being afraid of them. These things highlight our differences AND our similarities and we NEED them to be accepted. I will pull from the photo album in my head the myriad of beautiful locations, national lands, small towns and large cities to enjoy, instead of the burned acreage, flooded communities, and fire bombed, looted buildings that litter the landscape of our world today. I WILL continue to hope that humanity finally comes to our senses and remembers that we ALL count in the grand scheme of things and we must be treated that way. I truly hope that the next generation does a better job and has better luck than we boomers seem to have had. Millenials have just overtaken boomers as the largest number of members, and I hope they've been paying attention and are not already so disillusioned that they give up before they get started. They've got a big job ahead of them and I'm hopeful they are up to the task. I wish them GOOD LUCK.