Posts Tagged ‘accessibility’
Jeff woke up this morning in a bit of a funk–his allergies had finally gotten the best of him. What he’s allergic to, we may never know, so let’s just assume it’s “freedom.” After popping some Claritin we were off to enjoy a day of artistic discovery at the National Art Gallery.
Note, we finally found the Canadian embassy and, lo and behold, it’s right across the street from the National Gallery. Curious, because it’s across from the National Gallery in Britain as well. And is part of Barcelona’s party-central at the Catalunya Plaza…man, Canada gets the best embassy locales.
Anyway, the National Gallery was pretty impressive. It just goes to show you what a country with a ton of power can do…which is basically fill a huge building with every famous artist you can imagine. They had Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, JMW Turner, Chuck Close, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, etc. There were some truly staggering pieces to behold and the staff was so friendly and helpful. We think they might have just been happy to have visitors.
Ok, that’s not fair, but admittedly the Gallery was near-barren compared to the crowds we’ve seen elsewhere during this trip. As a result, this was one of the most fulfilling experiences for Jeff because he could actually see the paintings without fighting through a million people butting in front of him. The elevators were also extremely quick and easy to use, as they weren’t being occupied by lazy walkies who just didn’t want to use the stairs. For accessibility and “cool” factor alone, both the West and East National Art Gallery are worth checking out if you’re in DC.
After dinner, we decided to team up with Ali and see a live performance of “Wicked” at the JFK Arts Center. Interestingly, this arts center is MASSIVE, so much so that it was both showing Wicked and hosting a huge hip hop festival. This lead some interesting cultural blending, as we stood in line with musical goers while being serenaded by some local hip hop artists performing on a crowded stage right beside the box office. Speaking of hilariously divergent crowds, the way people dressed to go see Wicked was a true spectacle. Some people were in full gowns with pearls and heels while others opted for sweat pants, socks and flip flops. It was pretty awesome.
Also, there is a SLIGHT chance we witnessed this show with President Obama. Now, we didn’t actually see him but when Ali was entering the theatre she saw a huge swarm of security locking down the front of the theatre, talking about a ‘special guest’ who was arriving moments before the show and who would be watching the performance from the Presidential Suite. Also, she’s pretty sure she heard someone answer a phone and say they were from the Office of the President. While we didn’t get a chance to see Obama, or verify if he really was in attendance, we did see someone who looked a bit like Condoleezza Rice. Is there a chance Condi is actually Obama? Maybe we really DO need to see that birth certificate…
The performance of Wicked was a real crowd pleasure, with Ali and Clara agreeing it was one of the best performances of this show they had ever seen. The two main singers were unbelievably talented and it was a pretty entertaining experience all-in-all. Jeff absolutely hated the show and called it “ableist tripe” but that’s for another blog post. Let’s just say this play’s representation of disability is worst than the worst episode of Glee ever created. Jeff found it so infuriating and offensive he spent most of the 2nd half contemplating storming out in protest. One of the main songs in the show quips that no one mourns the death of someone wicked and Jeff whole-heartedly agrees–he wouldn’t be upset if Wicked died.
Our eve ended with a heated debate about disability, perception and culture as we walked back to the hotel along the edge of Potamec, washed in moonlight, and it was, for lack of a better term, magical.
Tomorrow is our last day in Washington. No regrets, this has been an amazing trip.
Jeff woke up this morning in a bit of a funk–his allergies had finally gotten the best of him. What he’s allergic to, we may never know, so let’s just assume it’s “freedom.” After popping some Claritin we were off to enjoy a day of artistic discovery at the National Art Gallery. Note, we finally…Read More
It’s hard to believe we’ve already been in the US for half a week. Quarter of the trip gone.
With that lingering thought, Clara and Jeff set off on one of the most epic days ever attempted while on vacation, which would be too much for both Clara’s feet and Jeff’s wheelchair. Yes, this blog will contain some graphic descriptions of wheelchair carnage. Consider yourself warned.
Morning was a bit of a groaner to get up–we have possibly the loudest air conditioner that does very little “conditioning” and Clara found it difficult to sleep with the sound of a jet engine roaring in our bedroom all night. Despite all this, we staggered down to get breakfast and, after drinking some orange juice that did not taste like orange juice, we set off to complete our ambitious agenda. On the docket was a morning hop to a small art gallery about 20 minutes away, followed by a light lunch, a trip to the national zoo, some pub grub for dinner and a stroll through the national mall at dusk. We got through about half that plan. Give or take.
Leaving the hotel we began heading off to the art gallery when we discovered it was much further than anticipated and instead decided to just hang out on Wisconsin Ave and check out the really, really sweet boutiques and antique shops. Our stroll was extremely relaxing, checking out all the period homes and waxing philosophic on the American way of life. As it turns out, even in this upper class wonderland, there were signs of the housing crisis that gripped the nation. Yep, even people who own mansions get kicked out of their homes sometimes. Having said that, these boarded up home was but a speck of dust on an otherwise pristine set of houses worth more than the collective wealth of both our families. After strolling around for about two hours we headed back to the hotel for food.
After lunch, it was time to zoo it up. Heading to the zoo would be our first major dive into the transit world of Washington, as it was simply too far away to walk. All in all, the trip took about an hour to get there between walking to the correct bus stop and then riding the bus half way across the city (or so it felt). Once again, accessibility was no problem and the bus driver was happy to load Jeff up and let us know when our stop came up. We had an amazing time at the zoo, despite missing out on some of the big ticket animals. We didn’t get to see any elephants or pandas, but we did see a ton of other cool animals and have lots of beautiful photos to prove it. The zoo also provided a lot of entertainment for two 20-somethings with dirty minds, as you can probably tell from the photos included in this blog post. We spent an astonishing 3 hours wandering around the park which is, we might add, quite large geographically speaking. The journey was complicated by the fact that it was also extremely hot today, but luckily the park is designed with “shade” in mind, meaning we spent much of it being fairly comfortable despite the cloudless sky.
We’re pretty sure Jeff didn’t even get a sun burn, which is a great accomplishment. Some of our favourite animals include the ant eaters, the komodo dragon, and the “Amazonia” exhibit which was almost completely empty of human families (unlike every other exhibit). There were times when it was extremely hard for Jeff to see as bars, fences, and huge crowds of people were constantly in the way. Some of the indoor exhibits were particularly difficult in a wheelchair because they were so congested. Jeff actually came extremely close to crushing a child to death who tried to dart between Jeff’s chair and the wall, while Jeff was moving, and would have been crunched between the wall and the chair if his father didn’t yank him back and begin screaming. If you’re in a wheelchair and like being climbed over and being surrounded by sweaty people who you can’t see through, then these exhibits might be for you. The really unfortunate part is these indoor exhibits are crucial at the zoo because, frankly, you might not see a live animal if you don’t check them out inside these enclosed spaces. Something to consider.
After trucking it around the zoo for the afternoon, we were in desperate need of a drink (that didn’t cost +$5…money grubbin’ zoologists) and were feeling a bit peckish. Just as we were about to set off for home, Jeff happened to look down and notice his controller flashing. Yep, he was running out of battery. This is astonishing because we charged the chair fully last night, meaning at that point we had walked approximately 20km (or back and forth from UWO campus to Dundas about 4 times). Suddenly it made sense why Clara’s feet were so sore.
This would launch the great exodus from downtown as we fought our way back to the hotel, desperate to arrive before killing that last 5km of battery life left. Our journey would take us through the metro, where we got off at the wrong stop and once again got locked out by going through an accessible gate that lead to a flight of stairs. We want to point out that every time we’ve screwed up the Metro staff has always had no problem letting us in for free and directed us to the correct exit. These people are about 150% more reasonable, friendly, and helpful than most LTC employees. Gold star to the Washington Metro folks.
Anyway, jumping around from busses and subways and doing a substantial amount of walking, including a walk past the White House, we finally found a bus that would get us within a block of our hotel and we made it home with about 2 red bars of battery left in Jeff’s chair. Definitely cut it a bit close. For future reference, we’re going to try and avoid going on 2h walks in the morning and will be using public transit a bit more, just to save battery life and foot life, in Clara’s case.
While we did very little of our original itinerary, today was an absolute blast–definitely the type of day we’ll never forget.
It’s hard to believe we’ve already been in the US for half a week. Quarter of the trip gone. With that lingering thought, Clara and Jeff set off on one of the most epic days ever attempted while on vacation, which would be too much for both Clara’s feet and Jeff’s wheelchair. Yes, this blog…Read More
Today was our first whole day in Washington DC and it promised to be an eventful one, given the whole 4th of July thing. Assuming that our day would be a little messy, we decided to spend some serious time plotting out our next few days and taking care of some procedural things, like getting cell phones to use in Washington. For this, we needed to head off to Pentagon City Mall beside, you guessed it, the Pentagon.
Getting to the Metro was a bit of a chore. Yes, the metro is accessible but the signage is definitely lacking. In fact, yesterday Clara and Jeff went into the Rosslyn Station, used their cards to get in through the accessible gate, only to discover there was no access for wheelchairs. Why there was an accessible gate is beyond us. Anyway, as it turns out we needed to use the elevator across the road and, because we’d already checked in, we had to be escorted by an attendant who buzzed us through the proper gate. As we waiting for our subway, we noticed a television screen listing places where elevators were not working–sure enough, Pentagon City was one of the stops affected by elevator outages. So, we decided to just get off one stop earlier, check out the Pentagon and then walk over to the mall. Once again we were faced with a bit of an accessibility barrier, as people refused to yield to let Jeff through the wheelchair accessible gate. In fact, Jeff actually had to pull his chair right into the gate just to block people from coming through and they STILL kept coming and trying to climb over him. Kind of ridiculous.
Anyway, arriving at the Pentagon, we had another hilarious “Americans are anti-walking” moment, when we were forced on a bus only to drive across the street, literally across the street, to the mall. Why are Americans so afraid of walking anywhere? We may never know. Anyway, the mall was pretty standard. Oh also, we were left weeping at how cheap cellphones are here…like $40 for two cell phones with unlimited text and call anywhere in America for 2 weeks. We’re pretty sure $40 a month won’t even get you 200 local talk minutes in Canada. We also found one of our favourite stores in Washington, titled “America!” which sold, as you might assume, American…stuff…
After wandering around the mall and buying some great (and cheap) new glasses, we were back to Georgetown to check in to our new hotel, the Georgetown Suites. The room is huge and works really well for me, despite not being an officially designated “accessible” room. Apparently the only difference between this room and the “accessible” ones is a drive-in shower–otherwise the rooms are identical.
Checked in and nicely unpacked, we ventured out to find food, only to find a Spanish tapas restaurant! Jeff cried with joy when he discovered they had Patatas Bravas on the menu. It was truly a beautiful moment for all of us. With nice tapas in our bellies and fond memories of Barcelona floating through our minds, we made our way down to the river to make some new memories with the 4th of July Fireworks. While we had planned to watch the fireworks at the National Mall, countless locals told us to not head down as it would be a giant tourist trap and, if the weatherman has his way, the rain would likely make it a big muddy wheelchair trap too. Instead, all the locals line the shores of the Potamec river and watch the fireworks in relative peace. All in all, this was a good choice. We met some really cool people and didn’t even have to fight for a spot. The fireworks were pretty good, although it was a little sad when the obligatory ”U-S-A! U-S-A!” chants fired up. We tried to launch into a rendition of the “War of 1812″ song, but people didn’t seem to take kindly to our White House burning ways.
God bless America…
With the fireworks finished and energy running low, it was time to come back to the hotel (but not before picking up some juice at the local grocery store) and take it easy before a big day of touristing tomorrow when Clara and Jeff begin trying to see everything humanly possible in 2 weeks. On the docket for tomorrow are some small art and sculpture museums followed by a trip to the zoo after dinner. There’s a chance tomorrow will be our only day this week without threat of rain, so we’re going to try and do as much of the outdoorsy stuff as possible.
More photos and stories to come…
Jeff & Clara
Today was our first whole day in Washington DC and it promised to be an eventful one, given the whole 4th of July thing. Assuming that our day would be a little messy, we decided to spend some serious time plotting out our next few days and taking care of some procedural things, like getting…Read More
Ensuring the Western Fair is accessible for people with disabilities has been a big problem, specifically a decision made last year to begin charging individuals with disabilities entry (which you can read about here). While I fully endorse PWDs paying full fare for entry, I do believe it’s unfair to ask the same of their support workers. As it turns out, Western Fair is taking steps to overcome this barrier by developing an “access card” which will allow people with disabilities to bring a support worker with them to the Fair for free.
Check out a recent visit to the London Accessibility Advisory Committee for more information about the Western Fair Access Program, courtesy of Greg Fowler from From My Bottom Step:
Ensuring the Western Fair is accessible for people with disabilities has been a big problem, specifically a decision made last year to begin charging individuals with disabilities entry (which you can read about here). While I fully endorse PWDs paying full fare for entry, I do believe it’s unfair to ask the same of their…Read More
Uh, what up criggaz.
So, to celebrate the one-year-anniversary of this little comic we do, we’re trying to rile up Londoners with a bit of accessibility-focused direct action: we’re caution-taping stairways around this city on Saturday night after the Vote Mob in Victoria Park. We’re meeting by the bandshell at 7, with all the caution tape and awareness-signs being provided by Jeff & Clara.
Bring your friends, go to the Vote Mob, grab dinner at an accessible downtown eatery of your choice, and return to Vic Park at 7 to continue being an engaged citizen! Don’t forget to bring a camera so we can later spam the internet with confusing pictures of out-of-order stairways.
Your call whether you stairbomb half a staircase of forty of them. It’s a drop-in kinda thing so you don’t have to stick around long if you don’t want to, because we know you have, you know, lives.
Other than that, thanks a million for your support this past year .
Uh, what up criggaz. So, to celebrate the one-year-anniversary of this little comic we do, we’re trying to rile up Londoners with a bit of accessibility-focused direct action: we’re caution-taping stairways around this city on Saturday night after the Vote Mob in Victoria Park. We’re meeting by the bandshell at 7, with all the…Read More
To celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Cripz: A Webcomic going online, we’re asking everyone to grab their caution tape and shut down as many stairways as possible.
What is Stairbombing?
Stairbombing was invented to help people understand (and empathize) with why accessibility is important, by “closing down” stairways with caution tape and a snarky “Out of Service” sign commenting on how annoying it must be to not be able to access a place they really want to go.
Why are we stairbombing?
Because, quite frankly, we’re tired of not being able to go anywhere! One of the biggest challenges for someone with a physical disability is the lack of accessible public spaces. From restaurants to schools, London is woefully inaccessible. The result is that people with disabilities are one of the most marginalized populations in our community simply because they can’t go to the same places as everyone else.
How can you help?
- Check out the Facebook event here.
- Invite all of your friends to the event and give us a few shout-outs on your social media (facebook, twitter, friendster, icq, etc)!
- Write a blog about the event and why you feel accessibility is important.
- Form a team of friends, bring a camera and meet us at the band shell in Victoria Park at 7pm on the 30th! We’ll provide you with all the supplies you need.
- Head out into that big bold world and shut down as many stairs as possible!
If we all work together, we can shut down a critical mass of stairs and show the people of London just how inaccessible this city is!
To celebrate the 1-year anniversary of Cripz: A Webcomic going online, we’re asking everyone to grab their caution tape and shut down as many stairways as possible. What is Stairbombing? Stairbombing was invented to help people understand (and empathize) with why accessibility is important, by “closing down” stairways with caution tape and a snarky “Out…Read More
Before Christmas, Londoners got a taste of what it’s like for people with mobility limitations in the winter during an intense snowstorm that dropped close to 3 feet of snow on our fair city. As the snow kept falling and the snowbanks grew higher and higher, people took to the Internets to complain about going a little stir crazy stuck in their homes for two or three days because of the storm. The unfunny reality is that being trapped inside for days on end is common for those of us in wheelchairs and scooters. Without transportation or sidewalk clearing in London, we’re often stuck in our houses for a majority of the London winter, meaning two or three months of isolation rather than two or three days. If the sidewalks were cleared and we had access to transportation, it would be a different story entirely. Unfortunately, city council repeatedly votes any such measures down as being “too expensive.”
This isn’t a complaint about being disabled or a “woe is us” moment, but rather a time to look critically at the problem while weighing the true cost of this issue. Deciding whether or not to clear a sidewalk cannot be based on how much it costs, monetarily, but rather on the cost to peoples’ sanity as they stew away in their homes, snowbound for months at a time. To borrow a phrase: Mr. Fontana…teeaarr dooown these snow walls!
Before Christmas, Londoners got a taste of what it’s like for people with mobility limitations in the winter during an intense snowstorm that dropped close to 3 feet of snow on our fair city. As the snow kept falling and the snowbanks grew higher and higher, people took to the Internets to complain about going…Read More
For those not in the know, last night was the Relaunch Party for a local non-profit called Emerging Leaders, an event I had been invited to but regrettably was not able to attend. For those who are curious as to why I did not go, they need look no further than the flight of stairs leading into the venue, Jim Bob Ray’s.
I had originally intended on going anyway and just “making it work,” which involves either get a group of guys to carry my chair inside or perhaps go in my manual chair, but after much thought I decided to put my proverbial foot down and stay home. Frankly, I’m tired of “making it work,” I’m tired of being uncomfortable and I’m tired of the humiliating act of having a group of people hoist my massive chair up a flight of stairs and scoff about how heavy it is once we’ve arrived at the top. Most of all, though, I’m tired of giving my money to a business that refuses to allow me to enter their establishment on my own terms.
While perhaps there is something to be said about a group called “Emerging Leaders” neglecting to book an accessible location for their launch celebration (inadvertently implying that the leaders currently emerging in London are not disabled nor do they have any real awareness of the disabled population), I want it to be clear that I hold absolutely no grudge against Emerging Leaders and I think they do some crucial work within our community. Ultimately, booking this venue wasn’t their fault and they shouldn’t be blamed because it wasn’t done maliciously–they simply didn’t consider the need for accessibility, and herein lies the problem.
To be real leaders in the community, to pick up where past generations have stumbled, I challenge Emerging Leaders, and everyone in London, to stop holding events in venues that refuse to become accessible. Let it be known that people with disabilities are a part of our community too and if, as a business, you want us to hold events in your venues, then your venues better be accessible to all.
Tonight, one business missed out on my money being spent there because they were inaccessible. Tomorrow, let’s make them miss out on a lot more than just one person.
For those not in the know, last night was the Relaunch Party for a local non-profit called Emerging Leaders, an event I had been invited to but regrettably was not able to attend. For those who are curious as to why I did not go, they need look no further than the flight of stairs leading into…Read More
As a person with a disability, Jeff has always had a contentious relationship with stairs. While taken for granted by most, to Jeff, a flight of stairs is a sign that boldly states “Not Welcome.” We are quick to make up excuses as to why we can’t make buildings accessible, like they’re too old or it’s too expensive, but rarely do we sit down and think about the reality that a flight of stairs means excluding a group of people participating in our society and to ask them to wait “just a little longer,” especially for something like an accessible school, is absolutely horrendous.
It is for this reason that we decided to turn the tables on the walkies and begin “shutting down” stairways around the city to give them a chance to see what it’s like to not be allowed entry. To see what it’s like to be so close but not be able to enter.
We call this “Stairbombing,” and with a little bit of yellow caution tape (you can get it for $1 at the Dollar Store) and a small sign (ours says “Sorry, no access. Stairs Out of Order. Inconvenient, eh? Just imagine what it must be like in a wheelchair…”), you too can help show people why accessibility is so important.
As a person with a disability, Jeff has always had a contentious relationship with stairs. While taken for granted by most, to Jeff, a flight of stairs is a sign that boldly states “Not Welcome.” We are quick to make up excuses as to why we can’t make buildings accessible, like they’re too old or…Read More