Feeling disconnected from the world can give you the blues

As we’re all aware, last Friday was interesting for Rogers customers nationwide. Perhaps, interesting is an understatement.

While I wasn’t personally affected by the outage, it significantly impacted several people with disabilities, and that’s pretty scary.

I’ve seen stories where local PWD couldn’t book rides or even call Para Transpo to check on their pick-up. Over the past few weeks, I’ve written about two different people becoming stranded due to a lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Now, imagine a person with a disability/medical condition not even being able to call anyone, including 911 in some cases.

To me, that’s pretty terrifying.

On Sunday, I read that as an “apology,” Rogers is giving their customers a two-day credit.

A two-day credit doesn’t seem nearly enough for those who were unable to do the following:

– Call 911
– Call for transportation
– pay or receive payments for goods & services
– Call their caregiver(s), or care agencies
– Call hospitals, doctors & nurses.
– Communicate online (For those that are non-verbal. Or face similar barriers.)
– Contact family members & loved ones
– Contact distress services

And that’s just scratching the surface of the countless ways Canadians were affected by the service outage over the weekend.

The other scary part is that it illustrated how vulnerable we all are. Within a blink of an eye, we can become alone and helpless.

I sincerely hope that this was a wake-up call that Canada NEEDS truly reliable telecommunication service.  

In other news

On July 7th, Ottawa Bluesfest fully returned for the first time since 2019.

As I’ve mentioned, I volunteered at Bluesfest for several years. When Bluesfest moved from City Hall to Lebreton Flats in 2007, I assisted with making sure that the site was wheelchair accessible. At the time, I suggested adding a raised platform so that people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices could see the shows over the crowd. For a few years that followed, I volunteered with the Accessibility Team, or as we called it, “The A-Team.”

As part of my job on the A-Team, I had to provide feedback on how wheelchair-accessible the setup was and offer suggestions on ways to improve it the following year.

As time passed, I grew frustrated with Bluesfest’s lack of understanding regarding wheelchair accessibility.

Each year, the platform was placed further from the main stage. The lack of understanding by Bluesfest organizers and concert-goers became too physically and mentally draining, and therefore, I chose to roll away from volunteering.

While I haven’t been to Bluesfest this year, I’ve been in contact with Kyle Robinson, a longtime Bluesfest pass holder. Based on our chats through Facebook, wheelchair accessibility on-site has improved slightly.

The wheelchair platform has been moved to the right of the main stage and seems to be a bit closer. Keep in mind that I’m basing this on Kyle’s videos. I apologize if I’m incorrect.

Regarding Para Transpo pick-ups and drop-offs, I wish I had equally positive news.

According to Kyle, the first night went smoothly. Para Transpo was allowed to drop off & pick up passengers at the main entrance of the War Museum. On the second night, the main entrance was blocked off, and his driver was told to drop off on the opposite side, near the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway.

Early Sunday morning, Kyle informed me that the locations had changed again. This time, he had been dropped off AND picked up on Wellington Street. Long story short, Para Transpo drivers don’t know where they’re supposed to go.

Several years ago, I remember this was a continuing issue. Much like Kyle, there were times when I’d be dropped off at the War Museum, then near the Parkway at 11 pm. I also remember rushing through thousands of people after learning my ride was opposite where I was dropped off. Whenever I called Para Transpo to inquire, they had a different answer.

For a big festival such as Bluesfest, it would be good to have one answer and one official Para Transpo stop.

My preference for where Para Transpo should stop is at the War Museum. The reason is that if it’s raining, you can roll into the museum to wait it out, catch a show in the theatre, or go to the cafeteria and the main accessible bathroom. When you get dropped off near the Parkway, the museum is a fair distance away for those seeking shelter from the rain or who need to use the accessible bathroom.

If I end up going this year, it’ll be to see Rage Against The Machine on Friday night. If I go, I’m sure I’ll have more to talk about next week regarding wheelchair accessibility at Bluesfest.

There are those born to rock, and then there are those born to rock AND roll.