What comes to mind when you hear the word accessibility? Most people think wheelchairs and ramps. That does affect those of us that use the chairs, but I came to realize that the word means much more than that. Anyone who uses mobility aids for their daily living, would have a list of what accessibility means to them just from experience. In this blog I’m asking the question to everyone. I will let you think about that while you are reading. The dictionary definition of accessibility is:
- anything that is easily approached
- easily reached
- easily entered
- easily used
- or easy to speak with
For most people they don’t even think about it until it becomes part of their lives, their reality. I am challenged in all areas of mobility, (quadriplegic all 4 limbs) and I’m also non verbal. Its almost comical to write about the issues one faces from start of day, till laying your head on the pillow at night. When faced daily with the issues, it becomes tedious and frustrating to say the least. I’d like to share different situations in my life that are comical, but need thought, by those with a well functioning body. These “shares” from me will come in the form of mini stories from my life. If there is no sense of humor how is there joy and excitement in life??
The Party Animal
At a very young age, I had friends, being integrated into the regular classroom, that always wanted to be with me. What a bonus being invited to kid’s birthday parties. In the early years my parents would call the hosting mom and ask how many stairs, where is it being held, is it accessible, and is it OK if she attended with me. I was light and had a manual chair at that time. Not too much of an issue really. As an independent adult, things have changed a little bit, given all my communication is attached to my power chair. “Hey man a few of us are getting together for my birthday, hope to see you there.” Now I know what it feels like when one of my friend’s homes are not accessible, which most homes are NOT accessible. This is not an unusual thing, is it? How do we circumvent that “mountain?” I always try to find my way around any situation. Its too bad, but I feel left out when they have a party because I can’t get in. I use a power wheelchair so just one step can hold me back from going into a place and let me tell you its frustrating to no end! I often spend a good portion of the event in the driveway, their garage or in the backyard which in the summer is most pleasant. I’m the back door backyard kind of guy… If I do get into the home can an I even get into the living room with my chair to be out of the way, but still be apart of the company? Can I find a place to go to the bathroom? This one is tricky😊 Where is the best area for my assistant to help me with giving me food as I am trying not to make a spectacle of myself? Also, if I can’t move around in somebody’s house, then I can’t communicate with other people because I will be struck in one place. This effects my mental health!
WHY? I’m a very sociable guy and when I can’t get into a place, it disappoints me, primarily because I like to party and hang with friends as most people do. Sometimes it’s just easier to invite people over to my house so I have resources and just enjoy the party, or suggest an accessible pub or restaurant. Bonus though if the event is at my home as I don’t need to Uber home from having drinks. Accessibility leads to inclusion, if anyone who has a mobility aid who wants to join in on a party they can’t, especially with a power wheelchair. I guess accessibility education for all has been and still is my number one priority. I’ll keep educating the masses on this topic. You do not know what curve balls that life will throw at you, or the ones you love, so education no matter how little. may help prepare you. These accessibility issues DO NOT change my love for a good party!Stay tuned………………I just turned 30!!!
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