Conference Accessibility: Interview with Mia Mingus, Transformative Justice Advocate and Keynote Speaker
Mia Mingus is a writer, educator and community organizer for disability justice and transformative justice. She is a queer physically disabled Korean woman transracial and transnational adoptee from the Caribbean. Mia and I connected on Instagram, and I've been fascinated by her willingness to share the range of her experiences in spaces designed primarily for non-disabled persons. As a frequent speaker Mia has experienced the range of interpretations of what "accessibility" means (like this video she made during a recent hotel stay perfectly demonstrates.
What's the ideal experience you've had with a speaking engagement?
As a speaker, I've never had my ideal happen, which would be someone contacting me to speak and letting me know what they are happy to work with any accommodation I might need.
What do you wish meeting planners knew about around accessibility?
For so many people with disabilities, our lives are not a stationary, stagnant thing. We are constantly adjusting to our surroundings and our current state. Even for me as someone who uses a wheelchair, I can also walk at times, but not long distances. It depends on how I’m feeling at that moment.
What is the most useful information for you to have as you plan for a talk?
I appreciate people being open and giving me lots of information about the space I’m coming to and the group I’m speaking in front of. When people ask me, ‘What are your accessibility needs,” I don’t even know where to start. It makes it so much easier to tell me what is there, so I can determine if that will work or more is needed. And having a person I can contact by phone or email is so much easier than filling out a form.
Speaking engagements often require travel. What is that experience like for you as a wheelchair user?
A really common example is that I tell people I use a wheelchair, but I don’t need an accessible room in hotels. Still, 9 times out of 10 theywhen the hotel staff sees me they immediately put me in a wheelchair accessible room, which I may not want. They often make the change without asking me.