Disabled People Need Plastic Straws To Live

Close up view of several colourful plastic straws inside a glass.

This government has promised to implement policy through a “disability lens”. This is – and I can not stress this enough – not happening right now. They can’t say they make decisions with a “disability lens” in Canada if they just banned plastic straws.

How much has the disability community screamed about their need for plastic straws in the last few years? Either this government has not been paying attention at all to the needs of disabled people, or they are ignoring us. I am not sure which is worse. 

For those unaware about the ongoing plastic straw issue, these are the basics.

  1. There are some people whose disability affects them in a way that they can only use plastic straws to drink food and beverages. 
  2. Yes, they have tried all other kinds of straws.
  3. No, other kinds of straws are not safe for them. 
  4. Plastic straws are an accessibility tool. 
  5. Accessibility is a human rights issue.
  6. If plastic straws are banned, some won’t be able to participate equally within society. 
  7. Banning accessibility tools will contribute to even more stigma against disabled people.

Banning straws is one very small contribution to climate change efforts. The problem is that it will create significant, unnecessary harm for some disabled people. I’m no climate change activist but I think there are thousands of other policy changes we could implement before absolutely needing to take away an accessibility tool from disabled people who need them for a basic function like eating and drinking.  

I am baffled by this announcement today. Disability policy is so bad that we are now implementing systemically ableist legislation. That’s all I can say right now. Here are some great resources on the subject from advocates who can better speak for those needing straws to live  👇

Plastic Straw Bans Are Not Fair For People With Disabilities, and Here’s What We Can Do About It by @GraysonGoal

The Last Straw by @DisVisibility

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