Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Right now I'm sitting here in New Glasgow fuming. My blood is boiling. And I'm mostly mad at another nameless, faceless disabled guy. I checked into the hotel, assured myself that the room was accessible and then got to a room with NOT ONE ADAPTION for someone with a disability. NOT ONE. The door to the tiny bathroom is too narrow for a chair, there are no grip bars by the toilet or grab bars on the shower, and the toilet was made, I'm sure for kindergarten kids. NOT ONE ADAPTION.

Now, you don't need to know this but I have to tell you for the story to make sense, I need an accessible toilet. It's manditory.

So I call the front desk and say, 'There is a mistake, I need an accessible room."

"That is our accessible room," I'm told.

"What?" I exclaim.

"There are no stairs, it's accessible," she says.

"But, but, I splutter, there is nothing in the washroom to make it accessible."

"Another guy who used a wheelchair stayed there and didn't complain." She says to me.

I guess I'm the ungrateful crip who wants to actually use the washroom at least once, maybe twice during my stay. I guess I'm not grateful for the fact that there are no stairs to get into the room. I wonder why they don't call all the rooms on the main floor accessible then but forget to ask because I'm upset.

So, I call every other hotel in town and they are all full.

I'm stuck.

Angry. At the hotel for booking me an accessible room even though they don't have it.

Furious. At the guy who stayed here before and was polite - he coulda thought of me and any other disabled person that would want to be able to stay.

Well they know now. They know that this is one angry crip in their hotel. And that's not ok.

Just as I'm finishing this the front desk calls, "Do you want us to go to the drug store and get an insert for the toilet so you can use it?"

"Um, yes," I say, "But don't ask me to be grateful or say thanks, cause that I can't do."

"No, no, we'll get it to you around six."

So the room has a tiny adaption. I feel like I've done my job for the next guy. They promise to 'explain' the room to anyone else who books it with a disability. Uh, huh, I'm sure.

But at least they will be able to go to the washroom.

And it's over. I'll spend the night and get out of here.

Funnily, I'm more exhausted by this exchange than I was from the days work.

Lifting yourself up from 'lesser' to 'equal' in the eyes of another takes a lot of energy and mental muscles that can't ever be left to atrophy.


Anonymous said...

This links back, in a way, to your May 27 post, "A Nice Day" ... when should you (we, any of us) complain when something that is SUPPOSED to be accessible just plain *isn't*, and when do you preserve your energy for some other, more important battle in the future? On one hand, we all deserve a break from constant fighting for disabled rights -- even when hanging back from the fight means that we ourselves are deprived of certain rights yet again, like when you chose not to raise a fuss about the non-accessibility of the stores in the mall. On the other hand, us hanging back today may create more problems for some other disabled person tomorrow (suppose the people in the hotel had simply refused to believe that the bathroom wasn't appropriately accessible, precisely *because* the last wheelchair user "hadn't had a problem"? Then maybe they wouldn't have made even the small concession that they did.).

On the other hand again, if we all fought every injustice we saw, we'd spend our lives that way. And that can really sap a lot of energy out of you and leave you with little time to just enjoy life. Then again, NOT fighting injustice saps energy too because you know that you're letting slide something that JUST ISN'T RIGHT, for you or for anyone else, and you might come to regret it later until it eats at you. I know that has happened with me when I allowed procrasination and so forth get away with me.

So where's the balance? I'm coming at this from the "Deaf angle" instead of the "wheelchair angle" but I'm still struggling to figure that one out.


Kathryn said...

Good for you speaking up. It does take a great deal of energy to speak up for things that you shouldn't have to speak up for. It's like teaching someone a new language while they look down on you or in my case treat you like you are some crazy mom who only deserves alot of eye rolling versus their full attention when I tell them what to do to make their shop or office accessible to other wheelchair dependant people.

Great post. You nailed it completely. I hope you found a better place to stay on the next day. And thanks for writing this too because it will remind me to ask specific questions when they say, "oh sure, it's accessible."

jrdavis8185 said...

i like the term "barrier-free" instead of accessible. I think it does a better job of telling the able-ists what they need to consider.

Anonymous said...

I was supporting someone who uses a wheelchair on a train the other day, they had a similar experience. There was a seciotion for disabled passengers, with lot's of room for wheelchairs. I sat in there, it was really comfortable - however my friend had to park the wheelchair in the doorway of the train, as although the superduper accessible section was available....... the entrance was too narrrow for the wheelchair to get in to it !!!


All 4 My Gals said...

I have a hard time when families like mine don't speak up to correct injustices. But I do realize that not everyone feels the confidence to do so. Which makes me feel even more compelled to do so. Every time I speak up at my daughter's school I know that I am not only speaking for her but all of the other kids whose families are not involved or who do not know their rights. Thanks Dave for being a voice for those who so desperately need you. My brother in law used a wheel chair when he was alive and I am fully aware of the inconveniences he had to endure.