Events big or small should be accessible to all

Events big or small should be accessible to all

Let’s start with some good news.

Last Thursday, I was able to get my fourth shot. The process was much easier this time. I called the pharmacy around 10:30 am, and a spot was available at noon that day. I rolled in, filled out a form and a few minutes later received the shot. I left and rolled on with my day. Besides having a sore arm, I didn’t experience any side effects.

If you are looking for a place to get your Covid booster, I highly recommend calling Swift Compounding Pharmacy at (613) 422-2202. They’re located at 276 Bank Street.

As many of you may be aware, I strongly support vaccines and wearing masks in indoor spaces. Not only do they protect you, but they also protect those around you who may have kids, elderly family members, or weakened immune systems. So, if you can wear a mask or get the vaccine, please do so.

Covid is still very much around us. In fact, I have a few friends that recently tested positive, and are currently self-isolating.

Last week, I talked about RBC Bluesfest and how, after all these years don’t seem to understand where to put their “accessible” platform. This week, I have a similar story about the lack of wheelchair accessibility at an event this past weekend.

I rolled down to Sparks Street on Friday to check out the Ottawa Asian Fest Night Market. This was my first time going.

According to their Facebook events page, the previous two were at Lansdowne, and the five before that were held in Chinatown. Also, on their events page, it goes to say there will be more space for food, entertainment etc.

When I was reading this, I thought it sounded fun, plus it was an event that I hadn’t been to before.

Now, I should mention that Sparks Street itself is wheelchair accessible. My one issue with Sparks Street is the bricks. Why couldn’t they make it smooth? For me, all that bouncing around while rolling along Sparks Street is quite literally a pain in the neck. I love the area, though.

As I made my way through the night market, I checked out the food stands and vendors; everything seemed relatively accessible. However, that would soon change.

As I approached the last block of Sparks Street, I saw two older adults using powered chairs. They seemed unable to cross the street even though the light was green.

So, I rolled up and immediately saw why they couldn’t cross the street.

On the ground were wire protectors for staging. I’m not sure of their official name, but I refer to them as speed bumps. They are seen at Bluesfest and other events. Bluesfest includes a ramp that goes over the bump, which really helps.

In this case, though, there were two speed bumps, all situated at the lowest part of the curb. If a PWD wanted to cross the street, they would’ve had to head towards the Parliament Buildings, cross the street, and then head back down to Sparks Street.

I didn’t bother doing that, and neither did the two people I encountered. They asked where the information booth was. I wasn’t able to stick around, but I did see them talking to one of the volunteers at the booth.

For next year's Ottawa Asian Fest Night Market, I strongly urge the organizers not to place those speed bumps near the curb, especially at the part of the curb that are intended for strollers and people in wheelchairs and other mobility devices.

We should be able to get from point A, B, C, and back as smoothly as possible without having to detour if it’s not necessary.

To anyone organizing events, please include people with disabilities when planning an event.

For example, if you have a stage, please remember to cover all wires on the ground.

If you need to use those speed bumps (as shown above) please include a ramp or a suitable alternative.

If you’re a local events organizer interested in finding other ways to make your event more wheelchair accessible, please contact me on social media.

As I often tell people, the more wheelchair accessible an event or a business is, the more visitors and customers you’ll get.

People with disabilities are everywhere in Ottawa. PWD also have interests, friends, and we also have money. You're missing out on much-needed revenue by not including PWD in your festival, event, or business.