Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The High Price of a Cob of Corn

"Let it go, let it go, let it go," I mumble to myself. I don't want to be in 'activist' mode. I don't want to kick up a fuss. I just want to have a good time. If you've guessed that I failed in my attempt, you're right. Damn.

We went over to the 1000 Tastes of Toronto festival held in Queen's Park, which is a few blocks from our home. The park looked wonderfully phantasmagorical, full of enormous and outrageous plastic, air filled, sculptures. It was a joy to ride through and watch kids eyes as they pushed at giant balloons or hid behind huge mushrooms. Several companies had booths. I knew going in that some would be out of the question for me because nature is sometimes inaccessible - I get that. But I saw a booth that interested me immediately. It was a booth for Telus (a telephone provider) and it had a sign announcing that you could go in and create digital graffiti.

How cool is that?

I went over and found that the door to the booth was very, very, narrow. No way could I get into it, no way could someone in a regular sized manual chair get into it, it was designed in such a way that accessibility wasn't even considered. I went to the booth and Joe, poor long-suffering, I just want to go to the park for fun, Joe walked on. I spoke with the guy working the booth. I said, 'You know that this door is so narrow that no one in a wheelchair can get in.' He said, 'Yeah, I know.' That was it. I continued to stare at him in disbelief, he knew and he didn't give a shit! Then he hastily added, just to get rid of me: "I'll mention it to the company."

It irritated me. OK, I don't like going over grass in my chair. I don't want them to pave over grass, I'm not unreasonable. But to make a freaking booth and bring it down for public use and by design have a huge percentage of the population left out - what kind of corporate responsibility is that? Telus, shame on you.

Then we headed over to where the food was, I asked about best access and was directed by a staffer to go around onto the road. We did and found ourselves at the ass end of the booths. They weren't serving on this side at all. We went back, I spoke to another volunteer and complained that I, as a person with a disability was sent to the back door, what to beg for scraps? She didn't get it.

Now we're going along and there was a big President's Choice display where people could enter a contest to win an amazing prize. It looked fun. People were using huge computer touch screens to write something. "I'll enter," I thought. Oh no, to get to the display you had to go down a curb. No provisions were made for people with disabilities to enter. None. President's Choice, shame on you. Next time I have a Choice it won't be you.

We did manage to find some wonderful food and met some wonderful people, yeah. But I had to keep swallowing down, I think, justifiable annoyance and upset. Finally after finishing a wonderful cob of roasted corn with hot peppers, we went home.

I now dub the event, 1001 Tastes of Toronto - just to ensure that they include bitter.


Kristin said...

I'm sorry you were stymied at every turn. That just isn't fair.

Glee said...

and if we don't achieve, if we withdraw, if we don't try anymore, if we get angry and shout, if we tell our friends about it too much, if we don't buy their goods and services, if we live deprived lives, then its our fault!

Like you Dave I am so tired of it I don't go out much anymore. and as for not being fair Kristin it truly makes me feel like committing murder or grievous bodily harm! Don't worry I won't tho.

Brenda said...

Dave, I'm so sorry for the frustration that you experienced, and I totally get it. Been there, done that. And while I'm sure MANY of us could and do sympathize, we're not really the best target audience to affect any changes. Why not send today's blog entry, exactly as it is, as a letter to the editor of The Star? It's worthy of publication, and just might get a few folks/companies thinking about the obstacles we face every day. Just my two cents worth, but I think it would be worth a shot.

jwg said...

You will, of course, send copies of this posting or an appropriate letter, won't you? Of course you will. Just because I think good news should be spread... My scooter and I just got back from the Clearwater Festival in upstate NY. It's a celebration of the Hudson River, the sloop Clearwater, folk and other music, and hippiedom, both old and new. They have incredible accomodations. At every stage there is a place marked off so that folks can enter in chairs or scooters and sit right in front. Best of all, there are people at each venue to make sure the paths are clear, and they do not fool around! There is a tent with people to help, braille copies of the program, and a place to plug in your scooter when the battery gets low.There are wheelchairs to borrow if the walking gets to be too much. There are people from the committee all over the place who come up and ask if there is anything you need. When the skies opened up there were folks with big plastic bags to hand out to protect scooters and chairs. Every performance has a sign language interpreter.And all of this is done without that sickly sweet attitude that sometimes is worse than being ignored.Maybe the people at your festival should find out from the Clearwater folks how it should be done. And this festival food is pretty good!

Anonymous said...

I'm de-lurking to tell you that I mentioned your blog/passed on a blog award to you:


I apologize for not having the graphic.

Dave Hingsburger said...


Thanks so much!

Moose said...

I'm never sure which is worse, places that don't consider accessibility at all or places that consider it but do a half-assed job. I think I've mentioned before a good article that was in the NY Times a couple of years ago about places in NYC that proudly claimed to be 100% accurate but had a step or two going into the restaurant, bathrooms down stairs, tables tightly crowded together, etc.

I sometimes think the worst is accessibility failure by someone who should know better. Recently I was kept from attending an event because it involved a flight of stairs, with no other access available. The person who had told me it was "fine" was themselves mobility impaired but can manage stairs. This person's assumption was that if s/he could negotiate things, obviously so could I. They could not understand why I was furious at being told the place was accessible!