Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Grand Strand

Some things just plain impress me. Some people just plain surprise me. These two often go together. My last couple of days were down in Simcoe for Norfolk Association for Community Living and I presented this year like I did last year in the Strand movie theatre. It's a great venue and if they will forgive me for being 'big city' ... it's as cute as a button. It's a multiplex, if multi means 2, that plays first run movies right in the heart of the town.

Last year when I presented there I loved the atmosphere of the room. And given that I was, then as now, teaching a lot of teenagers, the theatre is a perfect space. They come in associating the theatre with fun and anticipate enjoyment - it's a great place to start. I think the same phenomenon happens for staff and care providers as well.

My only complaint was that the floor sloped all the way down to the front. This meant that I sat in my wheelchair lecturing and teaching on a slant. By the end of the day I felt odd in my body and uncomfortable in my joints. I found breath control a little more difficult and often felt that I was in danger of rolling backwards. I explained this to the NACL folks last year but told them that when I came back, I'd still vote for the same location. The plus column was longer than the minus column.

So imagine my surprise when I went into the theatre and found that the management of the theatre, upon hearing my feedback. built a small wooden structure that I could simply roll back on and be perfectly level. They had made it such that the lip that I had to roll over to get on it was level with the floor and there was no extra work in getting up and on to it. It was incredibly comfortable.

After I was on it for about 15 minutes the guy who made it popped in to see how it worked. He and I spoke for a couple of seconds and I tried to convey to him how much I appreciated what he did. He smiled and acted like he hadn't done anything particularly clever.

This is the kind of attitude that I wish we could clone. He just seemed to think it was a responsibility of the theatre to make me, a disabled guy, comfortable. He just seemed to think that access was a right, comfort was to be expected and inclusion was an obvious goal.

I know, I know, this isn't the most exciting post in the world and in the words of an email I got today "some times your posts are boring" ... but I don't live on the constant edge of adventure and excitement. And I'm sorry if I think a contraption that was made, without expectation, and designed, without complaint, to make access possible is cool. Maybe not sexy. Maybe not funny. But cool. And to me, even in winter, I'll take a little more cool.

15 comments:

Belinda said...

It is the epitomy of good manners to make others feel comfortable and welcome unobtrusively. The theatre did that perfectly.

Come to think of it, isn't that the essence of our jobs? I think that it is summed perfectly with this story. If only we just could see our role as humbly smoothing the path before someone like this gentleman did.

Anonymous said...

I wish we could clone people like him too!

wendy said...

I think it's incredibly exciting that someone took your feedback and acted on it without being asked to. What could be greater than that????

Anonymous said...

I guess it is boring, if you look at it that way. But the humdrum is so often where the real poetry - the little glow of warmth and rightness - of things lies.

Deb said...

Dave,

I love that your feedback was heard, and better still, that the response to it was caried out in a matter of fact way. (And by the way, I think accessibility is both cool and sexy.)

Deb

Deb said...

Dave,

I love that your feedback was heard, and better still, that the response to it was caried out in a matter of fact way. (And by the way, I think accessibility is both cool and sexy.)

Deb

Anonymous said...

Far from a boring post -- it brought tears to my eyes. Simple kindness, matter-of-fact inclusion -- it should always be such a given. Bless those people, and all who are like them!

Marie S.

Anonymous said...

I work for a disability service provider in New Jersey. When I first started here, I was surprised that many of the accommodations recommended by our Assistive Technology department fall into the low-tech or even no-tech category.

I think creativity and genuine concern play more of a role in finding solutions that anything else.

It was nice to hear about a public place willing to make an accommodation.

And thanks, Dave, for this and all of your wonderful posts. I look forward to reading your blog every day.

theknapper said...

This is what accesibility really looks like....

Ettina said...

Too bad my favorite bookstore hasn't been like that. They have a spiral staircase in the middle of the store, going around a tree trunk, and while I've always thought it looks cool, I've found that the play of shadows on uniformly tan colored stairs makes me feel dizzy and often trip when I walk down those stairs. I told them about it and said that if they put colored edges on each step, so that it's easy to see where each step ends, there would be no problem. Not a very difficult thing to do - even masking tape would work - but they haven't done it.

lisa said...

It was not only cool, but it was kind and thoughtful, something we can never get enough of.

Lisa

Kate said...

I just started reading your blog recently and I have never, ever found it boring. :) I find all your posts to be extremely meaningful and thought provoking, and they usually leave with either a sense that the world is a better place than I thought it was before reading (as in tonight) or a laugh at the way you handled an unfair situation, such as the bakery one. Or just something to think about . I love the way you write, taking small vignettes of things that happen and making them into such interesting stories. That's my two cents, anyway. :)

Lene Andersen said...

I think that's very exciting! And it's sorta sad that it's exciting, but there you have it. How excellent.

AlisonH said...

Wow. Incredible. The fellow who built that will never know how many others he touched with his kindness--the ripples spread forever outwards. Well done!

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