The annual Abilities Unlimited conference is back with all the accessibility tech you could hope to find — except masks.
We asked amputee fashion influencer Zoe Collins why she wasn’t rocking a face covering during the ongoing pandemic. “I stayed home for two weeks in 2020. I did my part, ya know?” she said with a laugh before letting out a juicy cough. “Besides, I’m only missing a leg. COVID is not going to harm me like Percy over here.” She coughed in the direction of Percy Swick, a brightly dressed man in a power wheelchair.
Swick, himself unmasked, opined, “Why should I miss out on raw-dogging shared air in a poorly ventilated budget hotel ballroom just because my lungs barely work and I’m super high risk?” Before we could ask our next question, Swick zipped away in pursuit of a waiter carrying a tray of three-day-old cocktail weenies.
Collins emerged from her coughing fit long enough to add, “I’ve already had the ’rona six times. What are the odds I have it again?” When asked if she’s concerned about long-term health impacts, Collins said, “OMG, I’m tired all the time, I just got diagnosed with diabetes and I stopped being able to tell chocolate and garlic apart, but it’s definitely not from COVID.”
We finally caught up with Swick, who held up his plate of cocktail weenies victoriously. “We can’t live in fear,” he proclaimed. When we offered him a mask, Swick dropped his hard-fought weenies and drove away screaming like he saw a ghost.
On our way out, we saw the event’s sole masker, Monica Lee, alone in the lobby. “I used all my spoons to come here, thinking a disability event would be a safe space accessible for all, but I guess I was wrong.”
Abilities Unlimited event organizer Barry Archibald had this to say about the lack of safety precautions: “Why shouldn’t disabled people have equal opportunity to spread disease? Besides, what’s more likely to kill the vibe? Masks or someone in this room dying?” Asked if he knew that the pandemic is a mass disabling event, Archibald winked. “Anything that brings in more business, right?”