Monday, February 25, 2008


The brochure said nothing. The website said nothing. So I called to find out if the 'Diefenbunker,' Canada's Cold War Museum was wheelchair accessible. After I left a message enquiring, I found a small note on the website saying that the museum is 'not appropriate for those with mobility impairments' ... oh. So when the museum returned my call and I explained that I was in a wheelchair and had not noticed the note on their website (tucked away in a corner as it is) about it's inappropriateness for those with limited mobility. The woman said, "We don't consider those in wheelchairs as HAVING a limited mobility. That note is to warn those who have difficulty making long distances. Our visitors in wheelchairs tend not to have that problem." She then warned me that there were one or two rooms that I would not be able to get into but that the bulk of the museum would be accessible.

So we arrived at the 'Diefenbunker' which is a four story underground bunker that was built during the cold war and meant to house the government in case of nuclear attack. We were there for the 11am guided tour and had a wonderful time. There were several 'lips' that I had to get over to make it down hallways and in rooms but given that I had Joe, Mike and Joseph, to help when needed, we had no problem. The floors were not carpeted so I was able to push myself independantly through almost the whole building.

While I do think they need to change their website to reflect what they mean by 'limited mobility', I'm glad that they saw the wheelchair as something that made people more mobile. It would have been a very difficulty tour for someone with difficulty walking long distances or for standing for long periods. In fact, my wheelchair made me probably the most comfortable of everyone on the site. I could go long distances and sit and rest when listening to the tour guide.

It was a great way to end the visit with Mike and Joseph. We did something together. Something that we all enjoyed and something that we'll all remember. I'll remember Joseph tromping by me as I swung into a room to take a look at a couple of the displays, "The wheelchair makes a lot possible, doesn't it?" he said.

"Yes," I said.

Finally, someone sees that I am not confined by my chair. I'm liberated by it.

The wheelchair makes me mobile.

And in doing so, it made me equal to everyone else on that tour.


But Equal.

I'll take that.


FridaWrites said...

What you're saying makes sense--I've had a far more difficult time when I don't use mobility equipment getting out--far more places are accessible to me now (have had similar experiences with tours). Now I can get out and enjoy being out more. The kids' playground does not have an accessible entrance, though--8 inch step, not ramped.

Sounds like a fascinating tour.

Anonymous said...

So when they turn the bunker into a paint ball place, I guess you and Joe are against me and Joseph.

Anonymous said...

you may find some interest in this...

Heike Fabig said...

Yes, spot on. I hate it when people use the term "bound to a wheelchair". Don't they realise the wheelchair means freedom, and not having one binds you to staying put at home? Interestign eh, how people see it as a limiting rather than a liberating device. Would they say they are car-bound or bound to their mobile phone? The chair is just a piece of technology to allow people to LIVE life ...