Get your head out of your………

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I have decided that I am tired of ignorant people. Growing up, my dad always told me that ” Ignorance of the law was no excuse”.  I have lost all patience lately with people who are just totally ignorant to people with disabilities, and this includes EVERYONE. When you have a child with a disability, whether it be physical, visual, learning, hearing, there will always be issues with the way the world is set up. The world as it is right now, is not desgined to meet the needs of our children or other people with disabilities. But there should be places where inclusion and accessibility are never a challenge, and people should be willing, able and happy to accommodate the needs of not only our  children, but all people with disabilities. When I am out in the community, I am ready to face the frustration of doors that are not automatic, or stairs that need to be climbed, elevators out of order, or equipment that can’t be accessed. People who don’t hold the door open, push past us, huff and puff when we take too long, roll their eyes when we ask for accomodations. Some days I decide to make an issue of it with the business owner, or landlord, or the individual themselves, other days I will simply send an email to make them aware, some days I put it on my ” I will get to it later” list.

The past week or so I have been unable to keep it in. These are the kinds of situations that we encounter all the time. ALL THE TIME.  These are not one off examples. And these all happened over the course of 2 weeks. Imagine a lifetime.

A beautiful little girl named Lexi, who has signicifant CP due to a condition known as Kernicterus was denied access to a museum because the employee didn’t want her wheelchair to dirty the carpet. Just think about that for a minute. It’s ok for people to go in with their shoes on, but she can’t go in with her wheelchair. Ignorant. That employee has subsequently been fired, and the museum has issued an apology to the family. In the meantime the story has received national attention, even reaching over to the UK. All of that negative attention could have been avoided, if only that employee had made a different decision, and hadn’t been so discriminatory and ignorant.

I take my son to his power wheelchair appointment a few weeks ago at Erinoakkids, a treatment centre for children with disabilities. We had heard all about the new waiting area that had been donated. We were looking forward to checking it out while we waited for our name to be called. It was for sure a great bright new fun area complete with ipads and touch screen computers with lots of great games on it for kids to play with. It would appear that  a lot of time and energy went into planning the area to make sure that their clients would really enjoy it. They just forgot one little detail. It is not accessible for kids in wheelchairs or walkers. No one bothered to check to make sure that children using mobility equipment could actually get close enough to touch the fun ipads and computers. How does this happen at a CHILDRENS TREATMENT CENTRE? And when I asked about the oversight, I was told that it had in fact just come up at their meeting ( after the stuff was already installed) but that they weren’t sure what they would be able to do about it. So, I asked the logical question about why the concept of accessibility wasn’t factored into the design to begin with I was told that the space was donated. What does that even mean? That because it was free, you didn’t think you should bother to let them know that a good part of your clients are in wheelchairs and walkers? Did you forget? Are you kidding me? Ignorant.

Are you ever in a rush, and you just want to quickly pop into the local hot and ready pizza place to grab a few pizzas because you are running late, and dinner is going to be eaten in the car on the way to your child’s baseball game? Consider this then. I am with Maclain and stop to get some pizzas one night last week. I pull up to park and see a BMW with its flashers on parked in the only handicap spot in the plaza. The spot I need so that I can get my ramp out to get my son out so we can go and buy pizza. Forgive me for not wanting to leave him alone in the hot car. So I pull up behind the car, and know damn well that when I look at their dash, I will see no permit. Sure enough, there was no permit. So when the driver comes out of the store beside the pizza place, he looks at me blocking him in, and tells me to move so he can get out. I tell him very promptly that he should not be parked there. He asks me why not. I tell him because you aren’t handicapped, you have no passenger that is handicapped, and you have no permit. He says he though that it was for old people as well. I ask him if that is why he put his flashers on. So he questions me on why I think I should get to park there. I quickly tell him that I am driving a wheelchair van, with a permit, and oh, I have a kid in the back in a wheelchair. He tells me that I should mind my own business. I tell him, that he can take that up with the bylaw officer, because I am going to keep my van blocking him while I call the town, and they send their nearest bylaw officer. So the bylaw officer shows up, gives him a ticket, I get told off again by the parking violator, he leaves, I park, get Maclain out, get our pizza and go on our way.  A half an hour after we started the process. Ignorant.

Things are hard enough for us, they don’t need to be made any harder by people, organizations and companies who can not be bothered to do the right thing. Please, think about how nothing is simple in our day, but there are some things they can be made easier. Be the person that helps us, not hinders us, and remember that there may come a time in your life where you will be touched personally by a disability. How will you feel when you, or your parent, or your friend, or your child can’t go to the museum, or get a pizza.

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