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.
Jeff – thank you for your blog tonight.
I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t even realize Jim Bob Ray’s wasn’t accessible. Is that even legal?
Anyway, thank you for bringing attention to this.
Private spaces are currently not legislated to be accessible in any way, shape or form. Having said that, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) is pushing to change all that, currently working on preventing future barriers from being produced through the Accessibility Standards being passed into law as we speak. For more information about accessibility law in Ontario, check out http://www.accesson.ca
Jeff, it was definitely a lesson learned. As a board member of Emerging Leaders I am embarrassed and VERY sorry that we missed out on having you be a part of such an important event. Thank you for being a true leader on this issue and thank you for opening my eyes to something I take for granted every day. I hope to see you at the Hack the Vote Election Night Bash on Oct. 25th.
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