Accommodations are things that people with disabilities and other barriers *ought* to feel entitled to. They deserve and need them. It is fundamentally just and rational to provide them. Unfortunately, most people are very skeptical of anyone who requests accommodation, and so people who need them are often the opposite of entitled to them — they’re terrified to even ask.

No workplace or classroom falls apart when we adjust and accommodate difference. Quite the opposite in fact. Decades of research backs up the idea that diverse, flexible organizations are more dynamic, robust, creative, and humane. Rigid, micromanaged, heavily structured organizations fare a lot worse, and the people inside of them suffer.

Now, understanding the context for a behavior is not always or even usually an excuse. My physically and emotionally abusive ex partner had reasons for being the way he was, and that certainly didn’t make his abuse hurt any less. Still, focusing on how evil his actions were remains beside the point. If I want to prevent future abuse of other people, I must look at the contextual factors that foment abuse, and tackle those, rather than make myself blue in the face trying to punish him for what he has done.

The same is true of any behavior with structural causes. Low voter turnout? Remove the roadblocks to voting, don’t punish or stigmatize the person who didn’t make it to the polls. High addiction rate? Tackle unemployment, poverty, untreated pain conditions, all the things that lead to addiction. Don’t judge the addicts themselves.

Stigma, punishment, judgement, these things all feel very satisfying to experience, but they do nothing. Compassion, systemic thinking, and accommodation — those do.

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