PAL

May 1, 2007

Blogging Against Disablism 2007

Filed under: Accessibility, Disability, Health, Hints & Tips, Life, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 11:30 pm

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2007When 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!

April 27, 2007

Stone Mountain Park

Filed under: Accessibility, Atlanta, Disability, Life, Reviews, US, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 4:30 pm

stoneOn Sunday, April 22nd we went to Stone Mountain Park.  We packed a lunch in a cooler and were on our way.  The drive was about 40 minutes long, and it was a really hot day.  When we got there we found a disabled parking space near the entrance and got everything ready for the day. 

We didn’t have a long wait at all in the line at the entrence, and once we got our tickets and bracelets for the park we decided to take a ride on the train.  It has a lot of open cars with seats for passengers and it goes around the the mountain.  We had to wait for about 20 minutes before the next train came, so we waited in the shade by some benches.  Once the train came we were told to go through the exit.  Of course this meant going against the flow of people getting off the train, but once we were halfway to the train we figured out why.  The width of the space where people entered the train platform was just way too narrow for a wheelchair.  After waiting for some people to come down the ramp and the exit we waited at the very last car of the train.  This one had a wheelchair lift!  The guy who worked on the train was very good and chatted as he operated the lift.  Sophie likes riding them, maybe it’s because for once she is the height of a person and can see a lot more! 

There was a lot of space for wheelchair users in the back of this car and a bench for anyone who went with them so they wouldn’t have to be split up.  I noticed that there was spaces on the floor for tie downs, but they weren’t used.  It’s not like they needed to be.  The train rattled and rumbled a lot over the tracks, but it was suprisingly smooth when starting and stopping!  The train stopped for a bit of a show called “Dueling Wagons”, and there was a recording about the history of the trains and music.  We also stopped at another station where you could get off and hike the trails on the mountian.  I decided not to do this, but if I had a One-Off handcycle I would have totally did it!  (You can click on the link to watch a video of these handcycles in action).  When we got back to the main station Sophie jumped off the wheelchair lift when it touched the ground.  She decided that she didn’t want to wait for the front of the lift to fold down first.  She just stepped over it! 

We went up a hill and sat in front of the carving on the side of the mountain and and ate our lunch.  It said “slight incline” on the map, but believe me, it was a “hill”!  They have lazer light shows there on Saturday nights.  Then we went to the musume.  It was nice and cool inside, and we watched a short 11 minute movie about the carving on the mountain.  The most annoying thing was that when sitting in the wheelchair space the speakers were set up in a way that if you sat on the left side you could only hear the movie in your right ear!  (This kind of sucks slightly when you already can’t see the movie!)  I moved all the way over to the right and it was much better. 

The gift stores were a bit crowded with both shelves and people, but for the most part I could get around and we ended up buying two t-shirts.  Then we deicded to take the Sky Ride up to the top of the mountian.  We went through a very crowded gift store and lined up.  By this time I was in the very early stages of AD (Autonomic Dysreflexia).  The older lady who operated that car was very helpful (a bit overly helpful actually), but still nice.  She got out the ramp and put it accross the gap that was between the platform and car.  It was weird because it was still pretty flat but as I wheeled off of it the metal ramp made a huge noise!  The ride up the mountain was pretty cool, knowing we were dangling hundreds of feet in the air by a cable!  Sophie didn’t mind it at all.  When we got off a young girl had gotten her arm stuck between the railing and window though.  I guess they got her arm out once we were off.  Her father was trying to pull it out and she was crying, but the lady who worked there was trying to get him to calm down and she would do it.  I think he freaked the kid out more than the fact that her arm was caught!

When we got to the top while I was waiting for Julian to come out fo the washroom a security guard who was working there came up to me and asked if I wanted to get out (I’m not a dog!), and after telling her no I was sure I didn’t want to go out and I was just waiting for someone she started talking to someone else.  Julian came out and it was my turn to go to the bathroom.  I had taken my sandles off while we were eating because my feet were swollen and I had to try my best not to let my feet touch the icky bathroom floor!  As I transfered I also realized that the backpack on the back of my wheelchair caused it to tip backwards.  Luckily Sophie had this under control because it was attached to her colar.  On my way out, some pre-teen walked into me after I opened the door.  She just stood there while I was holding the door open and then proceeded to squeeze her way past us.  She has to squeeze between Sophie and the wall to get in because it was a really tight space!  Why didn’t she just back up and wait the extra few seconds it would have taken us to get past?!  I swear I feel so invisible sometimes!  Julian said she was listening to music with earbuds so she obviously wasn’t paying much attention! 

We went outside on a few of the lookout areas.  They were all very hot with the sun blazing down on us.  There was a ramp on two of the three platforms to go out onto the rocks.  When we went out onto the last the same security guard stopped us in the restraunt and was in a bit of a panic telling us that the disabled button to open the d oors was broken.  Julian had to repeat that we knew about three times before she let us go through.  (It was the button for hte doors we used to get inside the building).   This time there was a shady area where we gave Sophie some ice and viewing thing ate Julian’s quarter without actually letting him “view” anything! 

I noticed that while I was on the mountian I was dizzy and it felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen when I was breathing.  I wasn’t to the point of passing out or anything, but I felt like I had to breathe more deeply than I could to get the same amount of air in my lungs as I needed.  We totally skipped the line getting into the Sky ride to go back down the mountain, and on the way down we were right up in front.  Sophie laid on the floor and waited until we reached the bottom.  I wonder if she realized where we were? 

We had planned on going on the river boat, but by then I wasn’t feeling so great with all the heat and things, so we decided to skip that part and come back later.  I waited near some benches while Julian walked to the other parking lot to get the car.  It was slightly amusing when the tram that took people to the river boat showed up and stopped right next to me while he was gone!  I was sitting at the stop for it!  We could have gotten a ride right to it!  They also had an accessible part with a ramp on it.  I thought this was pretty cool.  Apparently the duck rides (vehicles that can drive on land and water) are also accessible, but we didn’t ride them.  Julian came by as the tram was getting ready to leave and we packed up the car and drove around to the camp sites.  We are planning on maybe going camping there this summer because they have accessible sites. 

It’s really nice there.  If your ever around Stone Mountain, you should go check it out.  Overall it’s very accessible! 

April 1, 2007

The problem with physical examinations

Filed under: Accessibility, Disability, Health, Hints & Tips, Life, Making things accessible, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 2:37 am

examSomething came to my attention about a month ago that I hadn’t thought about before.  I was at the Doctor’s office, talking to her during an apointment and she mentioned having an exam done in the next three months.  Now, for all of the females out there, you probably know the dreded “exam” I’m talking about, and that in order for it to be possible you have to “hop up” onto an examination table much like the one pictured to the left.  This is not a problem for anyone who can walk.  There is usually some kind of step stool either attached to the table itself, or sitting on the floor in the office.

For anyone who can’t walk this presents a huge problem!  Unless someone can physically lift you up onto the exam table, there is no way to get up there.  It’s so tall, that transfering is impossible. 

In bigger hospitals there are “lift teams”, whose jobs are to lift people.  If I go to the hiospital the nurses would call the lift team and have them come lift me onto the stretcher, x-ray table etc.  This involves one of the guys standing behind my chair and slipping his arms under mine, and another guy standing in front of me holding me under my knees.  However if I go to a clinic, there is no “lift team”, and because of the height of the table and the fact that if my body straightens up when I’m in the horizontal position I tend to get really dizzy and pass out because my blood pressure drops so fast this just isn’t possible.

There are companies that make accessible examination tables that lower to a height that is more accessible for everyone.  A wheelchair user can transfer onto it before it is raised up, or a person with joint problems etc. can sit on it without having to use the step stool.  This option would make the whole process easier for everyone, but because they cost more, not very many places have them.

Here’s a question that there can be a lot of debate over:  If a female wheelchair user can’t physically get onto the exam table and she is on birth control what happens?  There are two options here.  The first is that the Doctor refuses to let her stay on birth control because she can’t get her regular pap smear, so she is either going to have to stop having sex altogether, or start planning a family.  The other option is for the Doctor to let her continue birth control without the annual exam.  If the wheelchair user knows the consequences of this, I believe it should be her choice, but sadly it’s usually the Doctor who is taking the wheelchair user’s life in their hands and making the decision for them.  No exam, no birth control!

March 23, 2007

The American Cafe

Filed under: Accessibility, Atlanta, Disability, Life, Reviews, US, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 10:52 pm

cafeWe’ve been going to The American Cafe since we moved to Altanta.  It’s in Phipps Plaza (a mall here in Atlanta).  The first thing I noticed about this restaurant was how the staff treated me.  Usually when I go out to eat people generally treat me a bit like a child, or like they are thinking “Wow, it’s so nice this person is out in public for awhile!”  It also usually involves the staff asking if my guide dog is a “seeing eye dog” (even though she is wearing a harness and clearly guided me into the building) and then running off to tell the manager there is a dog in the restaurant.  (I’ve had one girl at the Cheesecake Factory do this on numerous occasions!)

The staff at the American Cafe never once asked about Sophie being a guide dog, and have no problem finding the best place for us to sit.  Usually they will ask us which table would be best, and will move the chairs away from the table without acting like it’s a huge deal.  They also speak dirrectly to me, instead of asking Julian if I’d like something to drink etc.  (Believe it or not, this hardly ever happens).

One of the women who works there always comes over to say hello to Sophie when we go there, and we now get asked if we would like our usual table!  The food is great, and so are the staff!  I’d highly recommend this restaurant to everyone, and Phipps Plaza offers some great shopping!

March 21, 2007

Clip from “Talk” by the Disability Rights Commission (UK)

Filed under: Accessibility, Disability, Health, Life, Making things accessible, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 2:11 am

I just found this video, and I think it has a very strong message!  I should make a lot of people really think.  It gives a whole new meaning to “walking (or wheeling) a mile in someone else’s shoes!

The last part really hit a nerve with me.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve waited for a bus only for it not to be accessible.  Or if it was accessible for the driver to say it was “too full”, not stop at all, or even claim the ramp was broken!  Once I told them they could reach down and pull the ramp out by hand it would “magically” start “working” again!

March 20, 2007

Westin Nova Scotian Hotel

Filed under: Accessibility, Canada, Disability, Halifax, Life, Reviews, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 9:34 pm

buttonsTo continue writing abotu my hotel experiences on my trip to Halifax, Canada I will write this entry on the Westin Nova Scotian

By the time we arrived we were very tired and just wanted a nice bed to relax on.  We approached the front desk and luckily no one else was there trying to check in.  All the while I was hoping that this room would be accessible.

On the way to the elevators there are stairs and a ramp.  The ramp wasn’t long, and had a “regulation” grade, but it was covered in thick carpet!  I had to get my speed up before it, and by the time I got about halfway up I had to push with every ounce of strength I had to get to the top. (There were about 4 or 5 stairs on the right hand side of the ramp, just to give you an idea of the change in elevation). 

We got to the elevator, and quickly realized that once again, the elevator buttons were too high for me to reach!  (What is it with the people who designed these hotels?!)

When finally got to our room, which was all the way at the end of a very long and twisting carpeted hallway.  Why do people insist on putting accessible rooms so far away from the elevator when there is a hige sea of carpet to push yourself over?! 

This time, the room was a lot bigger than the other rooms.  In fact there was a vast amount of space in the center of the room.  Plenty of room to move around, but because the room was such an odd shape the tv cabnet was on a wall facing the windows and you couldn’t even see it from the bed.  There were some chairs near the desk you could use, but according to Julian they weren’t very comfortable.  This was no big deal, we could deal with this. 

The bathroom was pretty small, but could do in a pinch.  The door opened outand there was a bit of a ramp up to the bathroom.  But then the toilet was right in front of the open door.  Because there wasn’t a lot of room I had a lot of trouble turning around even with the door open.  My wheelchair has the axle position very forward, and I use 3″ castors, so I can turn around in very tight spaces.  For anyone else this could prove to be an impossible task! 

Because the door opened out, and because of the ramp I had to let go of the door to get into the bathroom.  When I finally managed to turn around I couldn’t reach the door to pull it shut!  This would have been an easy thing to fix.  If there was a small “handle” attached to the door where I could reach it, I could have used it to close the door, but there wasn’t.  In order to close it, I had to go back down the ramp a little, grab the door handle and try to pull myself up the rest of the ramp by pulling on the side of the door frame!

Once I was in there with the door closed I had to manuver myself into the right position, only to find that the grab bar that was installed was in such a bad position it was unusable!  There was a sink right next to the toilet, and because there were no cabinets I could roll under it.  But also because of this there were shelves to put the shampoo etc. on.  Not a problem, right?  Wrong!  These 3 shelves were in the corner on the opposite side of the toilet!  Even the lowest was way out of reach, and everything that is usually in a hotel bathroom was inaccessible!  Also the glasses you had to drink out of were oin this shelf!  I thought that was just a bit disgusting!  I mean every time the toillet flushed tiny bits of water mist would land all over them!  Ewww!

Onto the shower!  It was a roll in shower, which is a good idea, in theory.  It was pretty small, and the hand held shower was set really high on the wall, so I couldn’t reach it.  Julian took it down, and that solved part of the problem.  We called downstairs and they brought up a bath bench.  To my surprise it was actually a nice big plastic transfer bench with a back!  This never happens in hotels!  Once it was in the bathroom, the room I had to turn around in was drastically smaller!  When taking a shower I couldn’t reach to turn the water on, so Julian had to turn it on before I went in there and the water sprayed all over the place, even getting the toilet paper wet!  I covered my wheelchair in towels, hoping I wouldn’t have to sit on a wet seat in -33 °C weather!  I solved this problem by putting the bath bench sideways and right against the taps for the water.  I had just enough room to back into the space on the size of the bench, but when sitting on the bench the sink was right in front of me. 

The bed caused another problem!  There wasn’t enough room on either side of the bed to get into it.  There was the width of a nightstand on either side of the bed, so I had to transfer onto the bed from the bottom and pull myself up to the top.  This caused a few problems.  Because the bed was so high, if I fell while transfering onto the slippery sheets I would have fell face first onto the thin carpet (which had concrete underneith)!  When I did transfer I had to pull myself to the head of the bed, and have Julian pull and tug at the blankets trying to move them out of the way while I pulled myself over them.  The bed was also so hard, I was really worried about getting pressure sores.  We called downstairs, and asked if they could get an extra duvet put between the mattress and bottom sheet for me.  This made things a bit better, and I wasn’t so worried about pressure spots.

This hotel was the most “accessible” out of the three we tried.  Out of 297 rooms, only 1 is “accessible”!  This seems to be the trend of hotels in Halifax.  As we found out, most of the rooms that are “considered accessible” are not at all!  I hope that by pointing out these faults to the hotels things will change, but sadly, this is more of a hope than reality.

March 17, 2007

Delta Barrington Hotel

Filed under: Accessibility, Canada, Disability, Halifax, Life, Reviews, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 3:15 pm

delta BarringtonAfter leaving the Delta Halifax, we drove down the street to the Delta Barrington. We couldn’t park in front of the hotel because the space was filled with cars, so we had to waqit until one of them was moved. When we finally had an open parking spot, Julian pulled into it, but couldn’t get close enough to the curb, so he had to lift me out of the car, over th gap between the car and curb, and then into my wheelchair. As he sat me in my chair, it sliped backwards a bit and I ended up sitting on the edge of my cushion, but we managed to get me positioned right. My breaks are not the best, and combined with the wet sidewalk, and very cold air it made for some very interesting transfers!

Once we were inside, the girl at the desk knew who we were, and Julian suggested that I go upstairs and check out the room to see if it was ok before we checked in. I just wanted to lay down on a nice bed, and relax by this time, and grumbled a little, but I agreed. The same young guy who bought our luggage in went upstairs with me to show me the room.

Again, the elevator buttons were so high I couldn’t even reach the lowest one! I could reach most of the ones on the inside, but if I couldn’t reach the buttons on the outside to get the elevator in the beginning, it wouldn’t be of much use at all!

The first room was tiny! I could fit into the bathroom, but couldn’t close the door! The sink was on my left, but I couldn’t turn to use it. The toilet was in front of me, but again I wouldn’t be able to actually use it, and the bathtub was behind the open door, which I couldn’t close! The room itse;f wasn’t much better! The bottom of the beds were so close to the cabnet holding the tv that I could just get through, but would have to back out and the beds were squeezed so close together that I physically couldn’t fit between them!

The guy decided to call the front desk to see what other rooms they had. We went to another floor and on the way to the room he told me that he really didn’t think the next rom would work because the bathroom door was narrower. We looked at it anyway and he was totally right! I couldn’t even fit through the bathroom door! The room was a tiny bit bigger, because the bathroom was a tiny bit smaller. He called back down to the front desk and found out that there were no more rooms that might work.

On our way back down to the lobby he told me that he usually passes kids on that floor who are jumping in the air trying to reach the elevator buttons! The swimming pool is on that floor and they go swimming, but can’t reach the buttons to get back to their room. I thought that was slightly amusing. That should have told someone that wheelchair users wouldn’t be able to reach the buttons either! Wait, seeing how wheelchair users can’t even stay in the hotel, I guess they don’t have to worry about us reaching the buttons!

Considering the girl said the rooms were “considered to be wheelchair accessible” we should have known this would happen! She told Julian they had wheelchair users stay there before, but I really don’t see how unless they could walk into the bathroom no matter what size their wheelchair was.

We got the same guy to go through his list of other hotels in the area and decided on the Westin Nova Scotian. I had been to a conference there before, and although I didn’t stay there, it seemed like it should have at least one “accessible” room. Julian made the phone call, and they did have a room availible!

If I could have, by this point I would have crossed my fingers, and toes! We got everything packed back into the car, and off we went down the street to the Westin, hoping that we would have better luck!

March 9, 2007

Delta Halifax Hotel

Filed under: Accessibility, Canada, Disability, Halifax, Life, Reviews, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 1:18 pm

Delta HalifaxOn March 4th after a long flight from Atlanta, GA to Toronto, ON and then onto Halifax, NS Julian, Sophie and I arrived at the Delta Halifax.  We had booked an accessible hotel room there well in advance through Expedia.  It was really cold when we got there, and after Julian got our luggage out of the rental car we headed inside. 

He spoke tothe girl at the front desk, and she told us that the only accessible room had been taken by someone else!  The hotel has 296 rooms and only 1 is accessible!  I thought that was pretty inconsiderate of them, but to have the room booked only to get there and find out it’s not available really sucked!

After talking to the manager the girl we were talking to decided that she would show us a jr. suite.  If the bathroom worked for me, we could stay there.  I went upstairs with the girl while Julian stayed in the lobby.  I quickly realized that the buttons for the elevator were way over my head, and impossible for me to reach!  We got to the room and although it was big, I had to go through a narrow set of closet type doors to get into the room that led to the bathroom.  I could squeeze through these doors, but just barely.  When I sat in front of the bathroom door however, I was almost a whole wheel too wide to fit through it!  My wheelchair is a pretty average size, and narrower than a lot! 

We went back down to the lobby and told Julian and the girl at the desk that the room wouldn’t work, and after she discussed it with another girl they decided to call the Delta Barrington (which is right accross the street) to see if they had an accessible room availible.  Luckily they did!  We packed all of our luggage, and my wheelchair back into the car and drove past the other hotel and headed to the Delta Barrington.  (You can click on the link to read about our experiences there).

February 24, 2007

Disabled washroom stalls

stallThere is one thing that really annoys me.  I mean it annoys me so much I swear my blood pressure rises.  It’s when I go into a washroom and pass a half dozen or more perfectly good empty stalls only to get to the disabled stall to find that it is occupied.  Is there another wheelchair user in there?  Of course not!  It’s someone who was perfectly capable of using any of the half dozen or more stalls they had to pass to get to that disabled stall, but they just “wanted the extra room”!

For starters, why would they need all that extra room?  A regular sized stall has enough room to close the door and move around as needed.  There’s enough room to hang your purse or bag on the door, or lay your shopping bags in front of you.  Sure, a little more room is a bonus, but in my case it’s a need.  I can’t fit into regular sized stalls.  It’s impossible for me to use them.  These people who “like having the extra room” can use the other stalls with no problem and be on their way.

While they are in the bigger stall, taking their sweet time doing God knows what, I’m usually sitting outside waitint and wiating.  Not only am I waiting, but I’m in the way of the other people coming in and using the regular stalls. They can’t get to the sinks, I’m blocking the stall next to the disabled one because the door of the disabled stall swings out and I don’t want to get hit with it when the person comes out!  So I sit ther waiting and going over in my head how long it’s been since I peed last.  I have to every 4 hours, but can go up to 5 sometimes with a lot of luck, if I didn’t have a lot to drink.  Now, I’m sitting there outside th occupied stall counting down the time before I absolutly need to go before my bladder decides it can’t hold things any longer.  Should I wait for this person to come out, or should I take my chances and try to find another washroom on another floor of the building somewhere?  (And I say I don’t gamble!)

The stall door finally opens and the person who was in there stops dead in their tracks.  They act embarrassed and most of the time in their embarrassed haste pushes past me to try to get out of there as fast as they can.  Sometimes even tripping over my guide dog in the process! 

Now, you might be thinking why not just tap on the door and let them know you need the stall.  Well it’s because human nature takes over when you do this and the person inside the stall usually takes even longer then.  They somehow feel that they deserve to stay in there longer because of the annoying person outside who disruppted them.  Like it’s someone my fault that they feel so guilty now, or that they would have been able to take their time if only the “person in the wheelchair” wasn’t there.

The worst time this happened to me was when I was at the airport in Miami.  I had gotten off a flight and Julian and I were trying to hurry and find a washroom for me before we went to pick up our luggage.  By now I really had to use the bathroom. Although I can’t feel it I knew I was cutting time very close.  We find a washroom and I go in, only to find someone in the disabled stall.  I waited and waited while other people came and went.  A girl came in and asked if someone was in there.  I said yes and she looked under the stall.  A girl was in tehre with her suitcases.  She let her know I was outside and needed the stall and this girl didn’t even reply.  I waited and waited so long I decided the only thing to do if I didn’t want to wet mself was to find another washroom!

I went back outside to where Julian was waiting and we rushed around until we found another washroom.  I just made it.  All because this girl was rustling around with her suitcases doing God knows what!  Was she changing her clothes?  Was she re-packing her things?  I don’t know, but I do know that she could have at least had the decency to say something or let me know how long she would be!

Do these people realize what they are doing?  I’ve heard a thousand times “well when I went in there, there was no one around who needed it”.  Well, maybe there wasn’t at that moment, but as soon as the stall door was shut someone could have came in!  How would they feel if they walked into a washroom only to find that every single stall was “out of order” and they didn’t know where another washroom was and their bladder was about to explode?!  That’s pretty much what it’s like for wheelchair users when someone is using the only wheelchair accessible stall!

I just hope that people will read this and understand and the next time they “want the extra room” they think back on this! 

changing table On a side note.  For parents, when you use the wheelchair accessible washroom that has the fold down baby changing table in it.  When you are done please fold it back up into the wall!  Time and time again I’ve went to use these washrooms only to find that I can’t even get inside because the changing table has been left down.  It’s blocking the way, and I can’t fold it back up because I can’t lift my arms over my head!  It only takes an extra couple of seconds to push it back up against the wall and twist the button! 

February 23, 2007

A simple fix for a few problems

I’ve been living in this apartment now since December.  It’s for the most part pretty accessible.  The kitchen is big enough to turn around in, and the bathroom is really big.  I have been having some issues when it comes to transfering from my wheelchair to the toilet though.

The toilet is between the cabinets and bathtub, so we couldn’t attach a grab bar to the wall.  It wouldn’t make sense to attach one to the end of the cabinets because it just wouldn’t hold up to the weight.  I thought about this for awhile and came up with a solution.  I got a bathtub rail that clamps onto the side of the tub.  It’s next to the toilet, so I can grab it to transfer, and I can also use it to help pull myself onto my bath bench!  Also when I move out there wont be any holes in the wall to fill.

I just thought I’d share this idea with everyone in case it could help someone else.  If you have any unique ways you have solved a problem like this why not leave a comment?

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