This year I intend to start a tradition at Rolling Around in My Head. I've crafted the soon to be coveted 'DisTinctive' awards which acknowledges, in my opinion, the best of my experiences this year from a disability perspective. From Art to Hostelry to lack of Hostility, we cover them all. So here's my own personal, and highly subjective, year end awards round up!
And The Award Goes To ...
Best Depiction of Disability in Art: Opera Australia's Rigoletto.
I was stunned by the portrayal of Rigoletto, I did not know the story and hadn't ever seen a performance. However, the use of disability to demonstrate prejudice and oppression was quite astonishing in this production. I was really, really moved. I was thankful to be able to see that in one of the theatres here in Toronto.
Best Use of An Assistive Device in a Movie: Spy Kids 4
This movie received horrid reviews and did poorly at the box office. However, we took Ruby and Sadie to see this while their Mom and Dad went to see Fright Night. The kids loved it. I was really taken by the use of disability and an assistive device in the plot - it was positive and cool. I'm not going to tell you exactly what happened because I hate it when people do that. No spoilers here. All I'll say is that it gives you a way to talk about disability with kids that is cool.
Best Book With A Disability Theme: The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
I'll admit I'm only part way through this now and I could end up regretting this but I'm entranced by what I've read thus far and it has a discussion about institutionalization and abandonment that is heart rending. I'm in love with how it's written. There were many choices this year, rah!
Best Art Show Regarding Disability: Shifting Perspectives Dublin Arts Council
I know that this caused some controversy within the disability community, but I liked it. I found it moving and I found the images wonderfully captured the spirit of the young people portrayed. I was born into a world where people with Down Syndrome were never seen. I worked in agencies where no pictures could ever be taken of those in care. I walked graveyards where headstones had case file numbers - not names. I liked the out and proud feel to these photos.
Best Artistic Contribution by Someone with A Disability: Days To Recall by Justin Hines
I love Justin's voice and, on top of that, I've met him and he's truly a lovely man. He was generous with his time and exceptional at meeting and speaking with people with intellectual disabilities. I saw him again at the Christian Horizon's Christmas banquet and he was terrific. I hope he has a long and prosperous career.
Best Accessible Accommodation This Year: Carrog Mill Cottages
I've written about my stay there and though I had many hotel stays over the year and many of those stays were lovely, nothing came close to comparing with the experience in Wales. I already long to go back. I got more than rest there - I got something much, much deeper.
Best Customer Service from a Disability Perspective: Air Canada
My experiences with Air Canada this year, again, were astonishing. I find them helpful without being condescending. With the exception of one staff, no organization is perfect, we found everyone willing to assist and to make things run smoothly. They actually treated us as valued customers and were even able to anticipate issues and deal with them for us.
Best Resolution of a Customer Complaint: Roy Thomson Hall and Toronto Symphony Orchestra
You all know I'm a letter writer! I found my experience with how may complaint was handled by Roy Thomson Hall and the TSO really positive. They responded quickly, they didn't deny or explain away the complaint, they took my concerns seriously, they took steps to ensure it not happen again. A bad experience can be made better!
Most Accommodating Restaurant: Ellen's Stardust Diner
I don't really fit into this restaurant, it's so busy and so popular that without the willingness of staff to make it possible for me to get in and get seated, I'd really not be able to go. I love it there though and it's part of my visit to New York City every time. And every time I go, including this year, they are wonderful at making sure I'm welcomed and included.
Most Disability Friendly Service: B.C. Ferries
Wow, did we get stand out service from the B.C. Ferries. We arrived, they give us this little yellow card to put in the car and the folks who load us do an amazing job in getting us near an elevator and with room to open the car doors. And, on top of that, they do it with a smile. I was truly, deeply, impressed.
Most User Friendly Disability Accommodation Service: The ADA Help Desk at Marriott
When you call up, if there is any question about accessibility or if you have a personal need that needs adaptation, the Marriott hotel chain has an ADA desk where they will contact the hotel, double check for accessibility for you and confirm it with you. They even give you the name of the staff they spoke to so that you have a reference point at the hotel itself. It takes the stress out of travel.
Most Friendly and Efficient Service Staff: Wheel Trans by TTC
To be specific I'm talking about the Wheel Trans bus drivers who work for the TTC. I find them typically nice, friendly and really desirous of providing a good ride and a good experience. They have to deal with traffic and tight travel times and even so, they deal with those frustrations really professionally. I enjoy my morning rides with them and appreciate what they do and how they do it.
Well that's it. I'm sure you all have your own personal awards, let me know of them, let me know what I missed. I had fun just reflecting over the best of last year. I chose simply to acknowledge positive experiences, I want to go into the New Year celebrating kindness and exceptional experiences and amazing service.