Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Accessibilizing The Day

We decided to 'accessible' the city. A beautiful Saturday morning loomed and we were going off to see the opera on the big screen. The closest one to us is a bit to far for me to roll and Joe to walk. A quick check on the internet and we discovered that we have several accessible subway stops near us and the closest to the theatre is also accessible. I loaded tokens into my pocket and we were off.

At Queen's Part an elevator rises out of the ground and we got on and road down into the system. This was my second trip on the subway so I wasn't quite so nervous. I launched across the divide and onto the car. I figured that I had to turn around to get off on the same side I got on and I had a few stops to manage getting into position. Arriving at Osgoode we got off and rode over to the elevator that would take us up to street level.

As I pulled up to the elevator I notice a big concave mirror that allowed us to watch ourselves approach the elevator. I'd never really seen myself in my power chair before and I was pretty amazed and how quickly and smoothly I zipped along. It was a new image for me to put into my head when I think about myself. As I spent most of my life walking and only a few years now rolling, when I picture myself, I see myself walking, standing ... using shoes. Now, I saw the reality - and it was really OK.

We rode the elevator up and made it there in plenty of time. On the way back we took the subway to a different destination because we had decided to go for a stroll down Church Street the day before the big parade. There were several obstacles but most of them had been made wheelchair friendly. All the cords that criss crossed the streets were encased in these odd 'things' that were ramped on both sides. I was nervous of them as they looked steep, but I managed to make it up and over with no real difficulty.

We noted that there were accessible toilets everywhere and ramped disability viewing stands in several different spots. I stopped and chatted with some guys who had volunteered to help with disability access. They were cool, clearly well trained, incredibly respectful.

So we had a day out accessibling (my word) the city. I had a degree of freedom that was unthinkable for people with disabilities a generation ago. I had a degree of respect that disabled people fought hard to garner. I had a degree of value as a fellow citizen that spoke to me of welcome.

We have far to go, but my oh my, how far we've come.


CJ said...

I went to the theater on Saturday. I am not disabled. I had to use the restroom and did so. While I was sitting there, I looked up and saw a full length mirror on the wall directly across from me.

Now, who wants to watch that?

Jannalou said...

It is so neat to read about the ways people make sure events and buildings are accessible to those with disabilities that affect their mobility. I have a friend with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair at times, but most of the time she uses a service dog (who she trained herself). We went to give a talk about disabilities to a Brownie troupe a few months ago, and I picked her and the dog up in my car. We put the wheelchair (a manual beast) in the trunk and in the back seat and settled the dog in the back seat as well. When we stopped to get dinner at Subway, we had to park at the opposite end of the curb from the ramped part of the sidewalk (she had neglected to bring her parking pass). Rather than walk all the way down to the ramp, my friend chose to use the dog to help her get up onto the sidewalk. It was quite amazing to watch.

Recently, this friend had some trouble with her wife's family regarding the service dog. I blogged about it: http://comautworld.blogspot.com/2009/06/ableism-is-bigotry-and-discrimination.html

(They did go, and took the dog. But they shouldn't have had to deal with this at all.)

Anonymous said...

Happy Canada Day to all the RAIMH readers!