We gathered at the gathering place, arriving early, and very little was happening. We registered easily and quickly. We ended up standing over by a float and a bunch of vehicles. I went back to the registration area to use one of the accessible toilets. I noticed that more and more groups were gathering around the tables and across the street.
I found the toilets and discovered that they were placed such that wheelchair users couldn't access them. I could see that the one toilet was adapted for wheelchair use but it was placed on a sidewalk whose curb was blocked by a second toilet. To use it I'd have needed to get out of my chair and step up over the curb. This wasn't going to work for me. There was a parade organizer there, who I mentioned the problem too. She was frustrated because they'd given specific instructions for how these were to be set up. She suggested an alternate bathroom, nearby, in one of the shops.
I went back to the group and we all joked, "If anyone, anywhere, should get it right, it's here at the Disability Pride Parade!!!" I zipped off to the bathroom and a few others came with me. We found one, but to use it we had to leave photo ID at the desk! We discovered that people in Chicago take their washrooms really, really seriously! All of us freshly squeezed, we headed back to the group. Just as we arrived we saw people taking the disabled loo off the curb and ensuring that it was now fully accessible.
It was important to point out, so I did, that the Disability Pride committee DID do it right, they fixed a problem, they didn't just explain it away with a "oh, well, you understand." I was pleased. Very pleased in fact. This emboldened me so I went to speak to an organizer about the fact that we were waiting over between bumpers of vehicles and not with the people part of the parade. Again, they acted quickly, changed our number and moved us so that we could be in a different area. We all figured later that we were probably placed there because we had thought we were bringing a vehicle but had changed our minds. Whatever, they were kind enough to move us and we were now ready.
First they had a small kick off ceremony. At the end, they revealed that the street we were on, I'm sorry i don't remember the name, had been renamed "Disability Pride Way."
I thought, just before we marched about seeing that loo moved, about how we were moved to fit our needs. How nice it is to be on a street called 'Disability Pride Way' but how much nicer it had been to be treated the Disability Pride Way.
We've had washroom discussions before in the blog. For something that is so necessary - why do they always make it so hard?? It does a heart good to be listened to - and it does the soul good to see action. It does the body good to be able to pee!!! :-) Glad it all came together!
Ha ha! So clever--and right on!
I have never been asked to leave photo ID to use a restroom in Chicago, but I have found that many places in downtown Chicago just won't let you use their restrooms at all. Many who do allow it require you to be a customer. I have a mental list of everywhere that I can pee for free downtown.
So far, I really love your stories of this visit -- I hope that everything continued to go well. Sounds like an amazing event.
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