We all have good and bad days or weeks. My days are filled with dealing with "accessible".
Yesterday and the day before that I couldn't enter my own house because there are people working on installing new cables underneath the sidewalk. All fine but I am in a wheelchair and I can't jump over meter deep holes or take stairs. The entrance was blocked and the people working on it, are not around after they finish for the day or when they take a break. I noticed before that they started working so I went to them and asked them kindly to leave space for me to enter my own home. They agreed in the moment but then..they didn't so I got stuck outside two times this week. This mentality gets nobody nowhere. Why this bothers me is because even when I stay calm, patient and don't see it as a big problem in the moment, the effect is there. I have times that I need to be home, my disability has some requirements. I couldn't cather on time and now I have a bladder infection (which is not a joke when being paralyzed). I can't control half of my body and having to push my limits constantly for these small things, can have serious consequences.
There is that.. shit happens.. yes yes yes...
But imagine having to deal with situations like this every day, different person, different environment, same bullshit. I went to the spa, It was one of those things I wanted to try and haven't done after I ended up in a wheelchair. It was not the idea of being naked and half paralyzed etc, what was on my mind. It was all the other things, the elevator didn't work, search to accessible toilets, not being able to get in any pool or sauna without help. These facilities/companies shouldn't say that they are accessible when they are not. Just having equal floors doesn't mean anything. The one plastic shower chair took forever to find and so on.. all these little things turn into this big thing that makes it very hard to have a good time. This new complex just opened (new buildings have to be accessible, it's the law) and I heard this building costed 25 mil. They didn't spend it on accessibility. I'm lucky someone was with me to help me to try to visit a sauna. I am grateful for things that ended up working out but the realist that I am, always sees both sides.
Accessibility is a mentality
I couldn't get in a train a couple of times, once because the person who was suppose to help me was not on time and all the other four people also working for railway 'didn't have a certificate to put people on a train'. Four strong men could, but wouldn't get me on a train because of the 'rules'. I know safety is important but so is finding the best solution in that moment.
I almost missed my flight twice because.. again, the people who are trained for wheelchair assistance were not there on time. It just a plastic chair you go on the airplane with, it's very simple. The flight got delayed and so after landing, I missed the last train, and it ended up to be a very long night. It happens to everybody but I am talking about accessibility here. When you are disabled - an unaccessible environment - makes you unable to do things or limits you in a way that creates unnecessary and awkward situations.
Why do I share this? To bring some awareness. People around me, who experience going somewhere with me, also learn a lot when it comes to understanding what accessibility really means. Because people seem to get the idea I manage everything, but a lot goes wrong, a lot.
If you read this, and you're able to walk, maybe keep in mind to not put your bike next to two other bikes on the sidewalk. If you are also a wheelchair-user (in Holland), you know what I am talking about. It's the small things that make a difference.
These are not the biggest problems we have but they represented that "accessibility" is not what is supposed to be. Only with some tools and some guidelines we are not there yet!
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