Nickie Coby (puppybraille) wrote,
Nickie Coby

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!
Tags: disability related, health, my writing

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