Friday, October 03, 2008

Table Manners

When going through my pictures yesterday to find my jellyfish photographs, I came across this photograph. I took it during a break in my lecture in Michigan some weeks back. I could see people in my audience looking at me like I'd lost my marbles when I cleared off my notes in order to take a snapshot of the corner of my lecture desk. But I didn't care. In fact, I thought that their confusion was an indicator of the difference that I now find between those with and those without disabilities.

Before life in a wheelchair I would occasionally notice access issues. Particularly in latter years as I found ramps easier to negotiate than stairs. But still access to me was more of an abstract concept than a day to day reality. Now I'm faced with issues of access constantly. Right now I'm in a hotel room, purporting to be accessible because it has a low peephole in the door but does not have bars around the toilet. Yesterday I faced a ramp that only a teenager on a skateboard would dare attempt. The day before, I tried to get through a door that opened with a disability button but wasn't wide enough for a wheelchair.

Access matters.

Then here I was in a lecture hall and they brought out this table for me to use to present from. It was made specifically for those who sit to present, someone realized, that we are all at different heights, someone else realized that having a handle to raise and lower the table would be cool, then finally someone thought about putting the handle in a place that was easily accessible. The end result was the perfect accessible table - and I got to use it.

So those in my audience that thought I was crazy to take a photo of the corner of a table didn't see what I saw.

The sheer physical beauty of accessibility.


Cynthia said...

I had not seen a table like that, but soooo coool!
I am having some temporary ( I hope) mobility problems, and have seen several odd things that were done in the name of accessibility. --Like a roll in shower at a hotel, with a hand held shower head . It sounds good, but it was mounted 7 feet high. The tile was terribly slippery too. This didn't work too well for me.

I don't suppose there is a "honey-do list" to fix these misses at making the environment accessible.
I always thought there would be well thought out standards, but if there are, it doesn't look like many people pay attention to them.

Kei said...

Very cool! Someone was thinking.