Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Photo Op

It may have been both the oddest and the nicest email I've received for quite a long time. Joe and I are going to Edmonton to do a presentation in February and the host there is being very mindful of the fact that I have a disability and need accessible spaces. Instead of simply relying on the hotel to book an accessible room for us, she decided to go look at the rooms herself. She said in her note to me that the hotel conference manager was surprised to find that the first room they went to that was designated as 'accessible' had nothing in it that would meet that designation. They then went to the next room.

That room looked accessible, but to be sure, she took pictures of the bathroom, bedroom and door. More than that she actually measured the door and sent that to me as well. I don't think I have ever had anyone send me a picture of a bathroom before! And I am wildly appreciative. Accessibility is an incredibly personal thing, I have discovered. Hotels often attempt, half heartedly I think, to make a room accessible by putting a bar in the shower. For me, though, the toilet's the key. I need either a tall toilet or bars around the toilet. Either is fine. Neither is impossible.

I've had so many fights over bars in toilets that now when we book hotels we ask them that question specifically, take the name of the person who told us there would be bars and then get to the room and check immediately. Ah, the joys of travel. But all of that is going to be OK because of just an extra bit of care. Photo's of the toilet!

Now the way the photo was taken I couldn't see around the toilet, I could see bars in the shower, but still don't know if they are around the toilet. But, know what, when I sent the question I know I'll get an answer. I'll be able to fly in anticipating a room that meets my needs. How nice is that? I used to worry about being a bother, I don't any more. Wanting to be able to use the washroom in a hotel room ISN'T a bother, it's a RIGHT.

After sending off the email to our lovely host. I said to Joe. I remember when 'checking out the bars' meant something very, very different. Oh, well, age.


Heather said...

Every else you can work around (apart from no access at all and that happens). The bathroom is definitely the key.
There's so many different interpretations of accessible that I now take my own collapsible commode chair when I travel for peace of mind.
Lots of enlightened places post pics of bathrooms for that reason.

How brilliant to feel so well considered. Def with you on this one.


Kristin said...

What a wonderfully considerate host.

enablescotland said...

I have loads of photos of toilets on my camera- I always think I must look a bit odd taking them, but it's so important.

Over here in Scotland, we're creating a map of accessible toilets(http://www.weedayout.com/), but instead of using the "accessibility standards" we're using real disabled people's experience.

One thing that always bugs me is when there's no mirror. It seems superficial, but why wouldn't disabled people care how they look?

AkMom said...

I am able-bodied, and once had to spend several unplanned nights in a hotel (volcano eruption prevented our flying home). Our first rooms were unacceptable as there was a strong smell of cigarette, and we were traveling with an infant with breathing problems.
They gave us the only other connecting rooms available, and mine was an accessible room. I think you would have been happy. Tall toilet and bars, ride-in shower, huge room with plenty of open space for rolling around.

Back on topic, how wonderful to have such a considerate hostess!

Laurie said...

Who are you presenting to in Edmonton? I live just outside of Edmonton and would love to hear you speak again in person.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Hi Laurie,

Dave's presenting for Gateway Assoc. for Community Living. Our contact is Ginny Burwash at 780-454-0701, x227. The date is Saturday, February 6, 2010. Joe

Anonymous said...

'I used to worry about being a bother, I don't any more. Wanting to be able to use the washroom in a hotel room ISN'T a bother, it's a RIGHT.'
My friend was talking about what to say when she phoned up the council about our snow and ice covered street not being gritted. I suggested to her that she mentions that she has a disability- otherwise they won't get what the issue is because we can see lots of people walking around outside. She said, 'I don't want to be one of those disabled people who is always asking for stuff'. Breaks my heart to hear it- that after all that work to accept our own differences, we have this shame to deal with.
I wish I could learn, and teach, how to stop worrying about being a bother. Ooh this self esteem stuff is challenging!!

Susan said...

Correction: Someone once sent you a picture of a bathroom before. Me! Okay, it wasn't quite a "bathroom" per se. It was an accessible outdoor toilet. But did it have bars? I didn't check! (Next time!) :)

Laurie said...

Thanks Joe!

I will look into this and I hope to see you and Dave in February.


Anonymous said...

As the organiser of this event we are so lucky to have someone as conscientious as Ginny. She is amazing! Can't wait to meet you guys!