When I read about “Blogging Against Disablism Day” I though it was a great idea and that I would take part in it.
I’ll admit I had to think about the whole “discrimination” thing before I started writing. My question was “have I been discriminated against since I moved here last December? I thought about this realized that the little things count too.
For instance, there is a mall close by called “Lenox Square” The first time we went there we parked in the parking deck, got out of the car and tried to find an exit. The only one we could find had stairs going up one level. There was disabled parking in this area, but no way for anyone who had to use the spaces to get out! We thought about going out the way the cars came in, but we couldn’t do that either. The sidewalk didn’t have a curb cut. We had to get back in the car and find somewhere else to park. The next time we went to this mall we thought to make it easier we would take the train. We got to the mall entrance, went down a long hill, and as we got to the bottom noticed that there is no way to get off the narrow sidewalk! There was a curb cut, but there was a huge post with a gate attached for the parking lot. It clocked off the sidewalk completely, leaving barely enough room for someone to squeeze by if they were walking. The curb was about 6 inches high and went dirrectly into the busy entrance! If Julian wasn’t with me I would be trapped there, not being able to get back up the hill. He had to lift me down the curb, which was pretty dangerous, we had to stay in the street for about 200 feet before we could get on the sidewalk in front of the mall. Is this just “ignorance” or is it “discrimination”?
Before moving here I lived in Canada. I use to take buses quite a bit. These were low floor buses, where the driver pushed a button the bus leaned and then a ramp came out. The wheelchair user got onto the bus, the driver flipped up a seat and secured the wheelchair. This whole process took about 2 or 3 minutes. A lot of the drivers would either speed past the bus stop, or claim that the ramp was broken! Once I explained to them that there was a loop on the side of the ramp so it could be operated manually, the ramp would always “magically” start working! The drivers just didn’t want to have to go through the process of lifting the seat and securing 3 or 4 straps.
Not only am I a wheelchair user, but I’m also blind and have a guide dog. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told I’m either not allowed into a building, restaurant, store, or other place of buisness because of my guide dog! (This is totally against the law)! I’ve even been told at a Chinese restaurant once that I had to tie her up on the street while I ate there! (Which I didn’t of course)!
When searching for a job some years ago I went to so many interviews. I would either get rushed through the interview knowing that I wouldn’t be hired because they were treating me like a 5 yr old, or in some cases they would see me, tell me that the poisition was filled and take the next person waiting in for an interview! Of course there was no way of actually “proving” this, so I’d just have to continue my search and hope for the best.
I try my best to change people’s attitudes, but sometimes this is not a very easy task. People assume that if you can’t walk and can’t see you can’t have a life. The way I think about this problem is if I can change one person’s attitude towards people who are disabled I have changed many peoples attitudes towards us. If I change the way one person views us then they will hopefully pass that onto their children, and their children will pass it on to their children and so on. We can only hope, but until then I just try to take attitudes and the discrimination I get as they come and try to change things where I can.
I just wish people would realize that a person who happens to have a disability is still a person, and that one day they could be in that same situation!