Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous entry | Next Entry

A new lease on access

For a while now, I've considered myself an advocate. Sometimes, all I can advocate for are my needs as a blind person, but I usually try to consider the needs of others when I advocate. For example, I need Braille signs, but people who use wheelchairs have other needs. If someone wants to know how accessible their space is, I do my best to represent both needs. But until now, I didn't really know any of this from experience. Sure, I have good friends who use wheelchairs, but I never saw what they did or how they navigated situations. But now that I'm not allowed to put any weight on my foot, I'm learning a whole lot about accessibility and getting a whole new perspective on the world. So I'll probably be writing about some of these things in the next little while as I experience them.

Today's Shopping Trip

I needed to refill my pain pill prescription, and the usual pharmacy isn't open right now because of Memorial Day. So we went to a Super Target to refill the prescription, get some shorts now that I've gained 35 pounds since last summer and grab some coffee on the way out. First we wheeled over to the pharmacy and had to fill out the form because I'm a new customer. I won't go into the form thing because we've already been there before. I will note two accessibility things that may be helpful. First, you can choose whether you want a childproof cap. For someone with limited strength or dexterity, this is a nice thing, although since I've got the bottle, I can tell you that as childproof bottles go, this one is easy to open. The next option is a colored band round the lid. You get to choose the color (I chose blue). The idea is for families to be able to tell their medications apart. I'd imagine this would, in addition to limiting family members chances of taking the wrong medication, allow people with limited (but somewhat usable) vision to know which medication is theirs. It would be cool, for people who live alone, to be able to have a different color for each medication. I don't know anyone who uses the talking prescription bottle-holders, but these bottles wouldn't work. They're like a triangular pyramid with the lid at the base of the triangle.

Okay, on to clothes shopping. The aisles are, fortunately, wide enough for a wheelchair, and most of the clothing is within my reach as far as height goes. But let's go into the dressing room. There's a sign for "women" with a wheelchair (the universal symbol for access in the United States). We were given our number and headed into the dressing room. It was a little tricky to get into the room, but then we did finally get there. The first observation I have is that just because a room is large enough to accommodate a wheelchair doesn't mean it's very usable. I haven't figured out how to get my pants on without standing on one foot. Unless I can lean back far enough, I can't get the pants all the way on. If I've got a bed, it's no problem however. But there were no grab bars to help me get from the wheelchair to the little hard bench they provided. Nor were there bars to use to keep my balance. Maybe a more experienced wheelchair user who uses one in normal daily life could've handled this better, but it made shopping very tricky and tiring.

Now on to the clothes themselves. Since I had to stand on one foot and my balance is awful, I have to use a hand on something (sink, bar, wall, whatever). So I'm essentially one-handed while putting clothing on. What is the American obsession with multiple buttons and hooks? How does someone with only one hand access these?

Now that we've got new clothes and picked up our prescription, let's head to the Star Bucks inside the Super Target. That's not a big problem, but with all the displays and cases, it's tricky to get to the case. Luckily, Mom was paying, but whenever I go somewhere where you order at a counter, I feel strangely detached from the person. It's even harder to tell if anyone's there and ready to take my order. In a wheelchair, I notice that even fewer people address me. It's so much easier for them to address my Mom I guess. But it makes me wonder, do they do this to people who are sighted and in wheelchairs with this frequency?

Oh, and we still have to get out of the store. Wow, that wheelchair ramp feels steep when you're sitting in the chair. I've always hated how flat some of those are, but I guess I never realized that they're so steep when you're in the chair. It's a good thing I got that latte; I need it after such a tiring day!


( 7 shots of espresso — Add a shot of espresso )
May. 30th, 2006 01:52 am (UTC)
Going Down Ramps
Sounds like quite a day. Just a fwiw, if you're mom or whoever is pushing the chair is willing, have them go down any ramp backwards. It's safer, and it's not so scary feeling. When I worked as a camp counselor, this is the way we were told to do it. Of course, I always "drove" wheelchairs backward so I wouldn't kill someone. Thank goodness, I didn't have to do it often.
May. 30th, 2006 02:29 am (UTC)
Re: Going Down Ramps
If you succeeded in driving wheelchairs, I'm very impressed! I was never coordinated enough to do it. But thanks for the tip with the ramps! I will see if anyone wants to try it.
May. 30th, 2006 02:34 am (UTC)
Re: Going Down Ramps
I didn't have to do it often, and I was very slow. For example, if someone had to get to the bathroom and there was no one else around, I'd take them if they didn't mind around outside, it was only for a short distance and over very familiar ground. I had a badly sprained ankle once, and was in a wheelchair because it was the middle of winter and really icy. Having someone back it down the ramp made me feel safer and not so much like I was going to take a header ontoo the pavement.riding backwards. nyone If Ii wheeleda
May. 30th, 2006 04:03 am (UTC)
Wow, sure puts things in perspective huh? I was only in one for four days when I sprained my ankle back in 2002, but it gave me new insights into just how inaccessible things are. even my apt complex isn't the greatest in some ways.
Thank you for sharing what this has opened your eyes to regarding greater accessibility. Keep writing.
Jun. 1st, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
Thanks for your encouragement! I just sent you some info on anesthesia, so be watching for it. I wasn't sure which email address to use, so let me know if it doesn't come.
May. 30th, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
While it does depend heavily on geographic region, as a sighted wheeler I find people only talk to me instead of my friends when forced to do so.

I've honestly never had trouble with ramps... I love steep ramps, the speed bonus is fun! I take very steep ramps (and hills, for that matter) in a wheelie, and its much more stable. Also, its a nicer thing for your casters.
Jun. 1st, 2006 12:37 am (UTC)
It's pretty common to experience the issue of people talking to the person I'm with as a blind person (although with a guide dog, people are somewhat more willing to talk to me). I just think when you combine the blindness and the chair, it's even more common.

I've noticed that the ramps feel steep and riding in elevators feels strange, but I've only used the chair for two weeks, so that may contribute to it.
( 7 shots of espresso — Add a shot of espresso )


Latest Month

January 2018
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner