Let’s award businesses that are wheelchair accessible

Let’s start off with good news.

I want to say a special thank you to Al’s Steak House for having a wheelchair-accessible patio AND bathroom. In case you missed last week’s edition, I crowned them as “Most Wheelchair Accessible Patio On Elgin Street.” That should seriously be an award or something.

Hmmm . . . . now I’m thinking.

On one hand, we shouldn’t need to single out places that are wheelchair accessible, all places SHOULD be wheelchair accessible. It shouldn’t be considered a milestone when a public place truly welcomes all members of the public.

On the other hand, it would raise awareness about wheelchair accessibility. Perhaps, it would encourage more small businesses to become wheelchair accessible. I should seriously look into this.

I haven’t had a chance actually to go onto their patio yet. But, as far as I know, I’m not training any new caregivers this week, so I should be able to drop by for a drink or at least say thank you.

When I came up with the idea to check out which patios on Elgin Street are wheelchair accessible, I posted a message on Social Media asking local media outlets to join me. Sadly, only one person responded, but no media outlets took me up on my invite.

In my opinion, media, and I mean all forms of media, don’t mention people with disabilities enough. When they do, it’s rarely in a positive way. Most of the time, the story’s focus is typically a PWD needing/asking for help, or they’re doing something unique.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help, and doing something good is great, but there’s more to PWD than that.

Or less, for that matter. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Some PWD just wants to live as everyday life as possible.

I know many PWD locally that are working hard and pushing for changes to the system. Whether it’s regarding affordable housing or more money for recipients on ODSP. The media largely ignores it.

About a month ago, there was a quiet sitdown protest regarding residents of Vanier and others not wanting a Porsche dealership and also against giving them a tax credit. I agree 100% about it, but I wasn’t able to attend though.

I recall sitting at home and seeing every local media outlet were there covering it in some way. So that’s a good thing, at least in terms of getting the word out.

By the looks of things, they had a good turnout, which is also great.

Over the years, I’ve organized several rallies and also attended many. Most of those rallies were centred around wanting the City to improve Para Transpo services. While there wasn’t always a big turn-out, for some, there was for others. Regardless of how many attended, the media made little or no mention of the rallies.

At times, it seems that some media outlets refuse to acknowledge that people with disabilities exist. Not only do we live, but we’re fighting for change in a world that wasn’t designed for us.

While we’re on the subject of design. I’ll quickly mention wheelchair accessibility.

I’ve been asking this question for YEARS, and I’ve never received a straight answer.

Why don’t media outlets or event promoters ever mention whether or not an event or place is wheelchair accessible?

I know that I’ve mentioned it before. I apologize for repeating myself, but I’ll continue to ask until I get a straight answer.

I don’t think it’s unfair to ask or even a tricky question. People with disabilities DO have money, and some of us DO enjoy going out. So knowing if a place or event is wheelchair accessible would be good to know whether or not we’re welcomed.

Another thing that I should mention to promoters. If someone asks if your event or location is wheelchair accessible, please be kind and respectful towards us. We’re not going to hunt you down or sit outside your event with pitchforks.

Trust me, most of us have horrible aim, and Para Transpo wouldn’t be a good getaway vehicle. Needless to say, you’re safe.

Seriously though, if we ask you if it’s wheelchair accessible, at the very least, just say no if it isn’t. Please don’t make excuses or say you’ll look into getting a ramp, but you won’t.

Just be honest with us.

And who knows? Perhaps we’d be able to suggest ways for your place or event become wheelchair accessible.

The more we try to understand each other, the closer we are to a world made for everyone.