Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Accessibility: A Personal Perspective

Filed under: Accessibility 100,Living with a disability — by at 3:06 pm on Friday, July 4, 2008

Accessibility 100

When talking about accessibility, it is easy to get caught up in the necessary width of doorways, the need for ramps built at a certain incline, and the height to install grab bars in wheelchair washrooms. And, of course, the cost of it all! But, what is often missing from the discussion is the why. Why go to the bother and cost of making places accessible? Why does it matter?

Please allow me to share my “why”:

On Tuesday, my husband and I, both wheelchair users, decided to go out to celebrate our nation’s birthday with fellow Canadians. Without a definite plan in mind, we took the Skytrain into Vancouver. When the elevators are working, the Skytrain is an easy mode of transportation for us. We merely wheel into a train car and then wheel off at our destination.

2010 Olympic Athletes Village under construction

Getting off at the Main Street/Science World Station, we first took in the progress of the Athletes’ Village for the 2010 Olympics. What an amazing sight seeing a dozen cranes in one location! All of them operating at once must be quite a dance.

Then we followed the path around False Creek, with the rest of the cyclists, inline skaters and walkies. This route is one of our favourite outings because it’s nicely paved and bricked, fairly flat and no car traffic to watch out for. We can go for miles without needing to contend with barriers.

View of False Creek

Some of the sights leave us puzzled though. We have no clue what this tripod structure is: a piece of abstract art, a marker of some kind or alien spaceship?

We stopped at Urban Fare for a bite and our first iced mocha. Those could be addictive!

At my age, I have learned not to pass by an accessible washroom without using it – there isn’t always one around when needed. Urban Fare’s accessible washroom was pretty good; definitely doable – and that is what counts!

From False Creek, we headed across downtown to Canada Place, grateful that there were sidewalk curbcuts on every corner. Where possible we avoided a few curbcuts that either were a little too steep or went out into of oncoming traffic.

Dal Richards performing at Canada Day

Unknowingly we arrived at Canada Place in time to catch Vancouver legend Dal Richards and his band perform. Watching him took me back to the early days of the Variety Club Telethon where he conducted the orchestra for the entire twenty-two hours. Now at 90, I’m sure it is his passion for music that has kept him so young!

Sunset at Harbour Park

With the festivities at Canada Place over, we found our way down to Harbour Park to wait for the fireworks. Alternative sidewalks around construction sites were accessible. Long ramps at the park made it possible for us to get down the harbourside, which gave us a perfect vantage point.

Once again, I didn’t pass up the opportunity to use the public washroom, which was, again, quite accessible.

After putting several miles on our chairs, we took the Skytrain back home to Surrey.

Canada Day 2008 Fireworks
(Photo credit: Darrell Hyatt)

I honestly do not know how much it cost to make that day accessible for us and other wheelchair users, for parents with baby strollers, for cyclists and for others on wheels. But, I do appreciate being able to get out in the community like that.

Being able to “ooh aah” fireworks with fellow Canadians: priceless!

Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. This is a community project. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas for future Accessibility 100 posts.

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Comment by Becky McCray

July 4, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

Glenda, terrific post for putting a human perspective on otherwise dry policy decisions. Thank you.

Comment by AnneShirley Manion

July 4, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

Glenda, sounds like you had a great experience and I am glad it is being done so more people can enjoy themselves. Being a senior, I now know that we also need this type of access as many can not climb stairs.

Comment by Debbie Havusha

July 7, 2008 @ 12:37 pm

What an accessible day you experienced and enjoyed.
Your appreciation of the city and its’ efforts to make the escapade so enjoyable(and more or less barrier free) was truly felt in your writing.
Thank you for sharing!!
Yours inclusively,
Debbie Havusha

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