Sunday, August 05, 2012

Whining not Winning

We've had kind of a poor start to the day, so I'm giving in to the desire to whine a little bit. Joe was doing laundry here at the hotel and found out, to his great dismay, that the drier had broken down. I then found a laundromat on line, he went there, it was closed for renovation. He came back, got another address and is gone again. Not a fun start to a day.

So, I was tasked with finding a place for brunch in Baltimore. We are staying near the harbour and we are looking forward to exploring the area. Tomorrow we are having brunch with Joe's sister and her husband and we wanted a "no muss, no fuss" experience. Joe sometimes feels the stress of inaccessibility more than I do ... partly because he's frustrated that we can't get in and partly because he knows the effect that it can have on me.

I got on Google and quickly found a website for the harbour in Baltimore. Then, equally quickly found a link for restaurants. I went to link after link ... looking at menus to see if there are vegetarian options and looking to see if the place is accessible. I went to over ten different restaurants and not one (that's 0 percent) of them had any indication if the place was accessible. This is their freaking webpage and they completely ignore customers with disabilities. Not one. NOT ONE gave a moment's thought to visitors with disabilities.

Not for a moment am I suggesting that this is a unique situation and that the restaurants on the harbour in Baltimore are uncommon. I find this omission all the time. ALL THE TIME.

A few days ago I wanted to get tickets to go to the Shrine Circus in Toronto, and went to their website. The website didn't mention accessibility. I wrote to the ticketing agent asking about accessibility and how to buy tickets, they didn't respond. I wrote to the Shriners themselves and they didn't respond either. Shiner's Hospitals say they are 'love to the rescue,' they have pictures of kids in wheelchairs on their website ... well I'd like a little bit of that love. Let me buy a freaking ticket or at least tell me I'm not welcome - don't just shun me.

So I want to go to a restaurant, take kids to a circus ... and I am shut out by lack of information or lack of responsiveness.

What to do?

I don't know who to complain to.

I feel like saying 'there otta be a law ...' but really, I don't think that we should have to legislate inclusiveness. All I want is websites to include me ... even if it's to tell me I'm not included ... or to make it possible for me to participate and buy a freaking ticket.

All this on a day with damp laundry and a delayed breakfast!


Mary said...

Aaargh, I know what you mean!

I live in Warwickshire (very Ye Olde England) and I can accept that 500 years ago the average architect was not designing buildings with disability access in mind. But trying to find out which ones have been able to adapt...

I really appreciate the places that have the honesty to say on their websites something like "owing to the historic nature of the building, we regret that some/most/all/the following areas are not wheelchair accessible." Okay, it's not the answer I want, and I'll still feel a bit cheesed off at being excluded, but at least I don't have to waste several hours of my life phoning and emailing for the privilege of finding out that I'm being excluded.

Maggie said...

And then there are the places (like my home congregation) that have the cute little blue wheelchair figure symbol on their homepage ... and in the fine print, some language like "both the main floor and the lower level are wheelchair accessible."

Only about 5 years ago I had to fight to add "but Fahs theater requires stairs and the only way to wheel from one floor to the other is via the outdoors."

We still don't have an elevator, even though it's been discussed for 20 years!

Our longtime members who add wheels in later life still attend services on the main level, but we rarely attract new members with wheels ... wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Dave, try checking out Planat to see if anyone has completed a review for restaurants in Baltimore.

Kat said...

From what I remember of the harbor restaurant area of Baltimore, it should be wheelchair accessible. There are some great food stands with delicious food of all types. Good luck! maybe you could try calling the mgmnt of the Inner harbor for more info.

Anonymous said...

I was just browsing Yelp for reviews and noticed they have a space for "wheelchair accessible". No idea how reliable it is - but maybe the answer is to start chipping away at it, by reviewing/getting others to review places that are good (or not).

Anonymous said...

I suspect that some sort of scheme is needed to get venues to pull their socks up. The council here (uk) runs a ‘scores on the doors’ scheme that inspects for hygiene and gives a logo with on to five stars to display.
I’m thinking a ‘yes entry’ scheme with a logo of a white horizontal bar on a green circle, like the no entry sign but on green.
I’m thinking a focus on accessibility which look at access for people using wheelchairs but also is useful for people for whom steps, narrow aisles, space is an issue. As well as baby buggies.
I’m thinking there would be (at least) two tiers of award, one for adaptations can be put in place (e.g. we have ramp that we can get out when you come here) and one for you will find access when you arrive.
I’m thinking the criteria would take in bathrooms and staff facilities, and look at moving around the building as well getting in to the building.
And offering a goods lift would not be acceptable.
And when we employ people to do the inspections, we’d say that we are positively looking to recruit people who use wheelchairs and/or have specific mobility access requirements.
And it would be a scheme with leadership from central government and funded by the local council.
And those who sign up and get the logo will lead the way.
I have a dream....

Anonymous said...

The Shriners incident is unbelievable. Really?? What a shame. What a blot on their service record. I certainly would take them to task over that. Shame on them!