Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dinner Without The Show

Joe and I had dinner last night with Chanelle and Donna (alpha order) last night. We are here to present a conference session today. I don't often get the chance to present with others and I'm looking forward to the experience. I'll be using POWERPOINT - something I never do - and they've promised to help me through the experience. Joe and I are staying at a different hotel, one that we have stayed at before and knew about its approach to accessibility. It's about a five minute drive from the conference hotel - which is nice but much older. We didn't want any problems with the various 'definitions of accessibility' so we are staying off site.

Our hotel is right next to a outlet mall and right across from a Boston Pizza. We all agreed to meet in our lobby and stroll over to the restaurant. I've worked with Donna and Chanelle (reverse alpha) for a long time and both of them have only ever known me as a disabled person. We work well together as part of a larger team but we don't often ever meet, like this, for dinner or other social kind of events. We had fun.

Part of the reason it was fun for me, and only part because this isn't in my consciousness at all times, was that they are so at ease with my disability. They knew how to help unobtrusively and they knew when to just let me do what I do in the way that I do it. We were taken to our table in such a way that I had to wend through a small pathway in a forest of chairs. And you know what I did, I wended through a small pathway. Neither Chanelle or Donna (alpha) rushed forward to help, bulldozing chairs over and out of the way as has happens far too often from those who don't understand that most of us with disabilities don't want to turn into the 'entertainment part of the evening' for other dinners. The show of helping makes a spectacle of disability. They didn't do that.

I'm often with people who I know as acquaintances and while I enjoy seeing them I sometimes have to grit my teeth because many are still at the stage that they think that they 'prove' their comfort by being a cheery helper, like Mary Poppins on speed. In the same situation, my short trip to the table would have been accompanied by levitating chairs and diners pulling chairs in dramatically - the special effects created, not by the magic of movies - but the kind created when people think your needs are special. Getting from the door to the table isn't, of course, a special need.

Anyways, it was a nice evening with lots of laughter and an ease of being that is sometimes difficult to find. I asked them to find out a couple of things about the hotel where we are presenting so that Joe and I know what kind of barriers there might be tomorrow. This morning I got up to a text message with two attached photos that allow us to see what we were asking for. Quick easy. Help when needed and asked for ... without the show.



emma vanderklift said...

Oh laughing hard at your description of cheery helpers! Our fav is the forest of chairs and tables at every conference we present at... and the flurry of activity provoked when we try to exit. Oh well. BTW - presented at Peale Conference in Pittsburgh yesterday. The organizers had to pay the hotel $1500. for a ramp up to the stage!!! Arghh! Never heard of the ADA, I guess.

Anonymous said...



Ron Arnold said...

Powerpoint is overrated. Personally - I find it distracting, both when I present, and when I attend a training.

Honestly Dave - it's your style of presenting that makes you so effective. Fancy graphics and convenient handouts don't compare to your ability to drive a point home.

Anonymous said...

taking notes ;)