I was watching ABC 7 news here in NYC last night and they reported on a disabled topic and they asked if anyone had similar experiences to contact them so I did. The intern that answered heard my story and replied “so your in a wheelchair, big deal what do you expect from the world?”
The interns answer got me thinking. First I thought about the inane nature of his comment when it was that very station that requested stories in this vane, then I got to thinking And Equality came to mind. What does equality mean to the disabled? It means being able to know that if I pay the same fare for subway that every elevator works, after all you the upright public are guaranteed a staircase, a walkway and yet I’m charged the same fare and I roll the dice every time I start a journey because out of 420 subway stations less than17% have working elevators on any day.
What does equality mean? It means that when I ask “are you accessible” and based on that answer I book a special meal at your restaurant, I don’t consider accessibility having to enter via the alley past the dumpster through the kitchen. My bill at the end of the night isn’t reduced so why should my enjoyment be?
When you walk down the street your not suddenly thrown through the air and a $1,000 worth of damage done to your body. Right? At least thats a safe-ish bet. Most cities simply look at streets and access ramps and ask themselves can someone safely walk here or does it meet basic code, however they aren’t considering life from a different vantage point.. one in a chair. For example, just 2 days ago I hit a crack so large I was thrown out of my chair into a wrought iron railing, that my partner would have never have had a problem with because safety looks different when your three foot higher and don’t have wheels under your ass.
I know you think this sounds like the shopping list of a disgruntled disabled person. Well it’s far from that. You see, if when these problems were reported I got a honest reply, I would be less upset but when I get told “go away we meet code” or “I walk down that street and I have no problem” or my favorite “no one has ever complained about that before,” when the people who make a difference do the bare legal minimium and then hide behind it or make inane judgement calls even when speaking to the disabled that “they can walk down the street” it shows that we are not only being treated poorly, we are being completely ignored.Each year Millions Are dished out to organizations to meet the needs of the disabled, every time some public buildings project is announced someone is paid seven figures to advise on disabled needs but if your in a wheelchair in NYC you eventually realise the place all those studies end up is not in front of anyone who has the job of implementing the results. More likely they can be found on a roll in the executive washrooms.
The answer is simple, if I don’t stay in a hotel I don’t pay. If I don’t go to the theatre, I’m not charged admission. So New York City if you don’t include us, if you don’t consider us then don’t expect our cheque. In the last year, broken pavements have cost me over a thousand dollars in wheelchair repairs and eventually a totally new chair costing more than most Toyotas, so pay attention to detail or pay us back. We, the disabled community are sick of being the taxation slot machine of the able bodied community. Some of us only have one arm, if you want to pull it at least give us the chance of winning.
Respect our existance or expect our resistance.