Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Visitability Practices Increases Community Inclusion

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by Glenda at 1:50 pm on Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Accessibility 100When my parents bought my first electric scooter way back in Grade 8, the world that I could explore on my own grew significantly. That world soon included Beth’s house.

Beth was my first friend in high school and she lived around the corner and up a short block from us. Once I  had my scooter, I was able to go independently to Beth’s house, although Mom did do the “Mom-thing” the first time by watching from the corner to make sure I got there okay.

Other than our own house, which was a rancher, Beth’s house was the only house I didn’t need to be carried into. There was a door from the carport into the family room. There was even a small bathroom on the ground flour.

Beth’s house was ahead of its time. Now there is “visitability”:

…a movement to change home construction practices so that virtually all new single-family homes offer a few specific features that make the home easier for people who develop a mobility impairment to live in and visit. Visitability ensures that everyone, regardless of mobility, will be able to at least visit someone else’s home, use the washroom and exit the home.

(From Visitability: Moving Towards Livable, Sustainable Housing and Communities in Canada – PDF document)

According to the article, the technical requirements include:

  • a zero step entrance,
  • at least 32-inch clear opening width of main floor doorways, and
  • at least a half bath on the main floor.

Visitability practices benefits people with limited mobility and enables seniors to “age in place” with minimal renovations needed. Visitability increases opportunities for social interaction and inclusive, livable communities.

Why is visitability being included in Accessibility 100 – a series focusing on easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities?

The way for the visitability movement to gain momentum is by first increasing the awareness and interest in the need for this housing construction practice.

From increased awareness and understanding comes increased support:

  • for visitability initiatives,
  • for changes to bylaws requiring visitable and adaptable housing, such as the bylaws adopted by the District of Saanich, and
  • for favouring visitability practices when buying a home.

What opportunities exist to support visitability or to initiate such a practice to increase inclusion in your community?


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.

Get the entire series by subscribing to this blog by filling in the form in the upper right corner or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Given the Bum View on Canada Day

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by Glenda at 12:11 am on Friday, July 3, 2009

Accessibility 100Wednesday Darrell and I went downtown to Canada Place to celebrate our nation’s birthday. Because Canada Place is undergoing renovations, festivities were held outside. It was a beautiful day for one massive block party!

One view of the harbour from Vancouver's new convention centre

Having spent a few days earlier this year in downtown Chicago, which is wall-to-wall cement and glass, I now appreciate how green Vancouver’s downtown core actually is. I can’t imagine living in a city barren of trees.

View of Dead Man's Island from Vancouver's Convention CentreMaking our way through the crowds, we managed to reach Vancouver’s new convention centre

Impressive space! Impressive views!

Automatic door openerHowever, for a “green-designed, state-of-the-art facility” that was several hundred million dollars over budget, I was slightly disappointed at the accessibility.

Automatic doors were few and far between. Sitting at one door, after several people had walked through without holding it open for us, one well-meaning woman happened by and asked, “Are you wanting to go through?” No, I’m just sitting here in front of the door, looking like a dufus, for no reason. She kindly held the door for us.

Glenda Watson Hyatt, Vancouver legend Dal Richards and Darrell HyattBack outside, we found our way to another stage in time to enjoy Vancouver bandleader legend Dal Richards.

Posing for a photo with Dal, after buying his latest CD, was definitely my highlight of the day!

The back side of people standing in front of us

The 1st Annual Canada Day Parade was definitely a bummer for us. Despite being on the road, parked right against the curb, while standing spectators were constantly told to back up onto the sidewalk, Darrell and I saw very little of the parade. People persistently stood in front of us, with no regard that we could not see. Even after I tapped several on the shoulder and they responded with “Sorry”, they did not move. Very inconsiderate and rude!

We are unable to stand to peer over shoulders. Stepping to side would have been a simple way to make the parade accessible to  us. It makes me wonder how ready Vancouver really is for the Paralympics.

Having had enough of the crowds, we did not stay around for the fireworks.

Darell and I look forward to seeing more of the 2nd Annual Canada Day Parade!

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Does Accessibility Need an Al Gore?

Filed under: Accessibility 100, Living with a disability — by Glenda at 12:00 am on Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Over the past couple of months, several people have thanked me for making them aware of the need for accessibility, both on the web and in daily life. I smile. While I appreciate having the tools and voice to make this need known, accessibility is not a new need.

Wheelchair washroom stall without a door Do you know how long I and millions of other people with disabilities have been dealing with less than accessible washrooms, curb cuts and such? Accessibility isn’t a new concept, yet many, many people still don’t get it until they are personally touched by the need.

Over the weekend, I was thinking about the environmental movement. Despite the decades of tireless work by environmentalist David Suzuki, oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Greenpeace and countless other individuals and organizations, it wasn’t until 2006 when former US Vice President Al Gore released his Hollywood-ized documentary An Inconvenient Truth did the masses finally “get it”. Overnight, reducing, recycling and repurposing became the latest trend. Parking the car and walking to work was a new concept. “Green” products began popping up everywhere.

In 2007, Al Gore and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”.

From my perspective, it took a former American politician and a documentary with a $1million budget, according to Wikipedia, to get people’s attention and to start them taking action to protect the earth. Whatever it takes!

Turning back to accessibility, what needs to happens for the similar response to occur? What would get people’s attention and get them taking action? Do we need a big name like Al Gore in our corner?

Seriously, I am asking. I welcome a respectful dialogue in the comments below.

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Using Common Sense Improves Washroom Accessibility

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by Glenda at 8:41 pm on Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Accessibility 100Following my misadventure with Batman’s bathroom, I’d like to share this story. Prior to boarding the bus to Whistler, I decided to use the washroom – one I had used a few times previously and would rated as “adequately accessible”.

Wheelchair washroom stall without a doorMuch to my horror, I discovered the wheelchair washroom stall didn’t have a door. All of the other stalls had a door, but the accessible stall was doorless. It would save trying to close the door, but I wasn’t keen on using a doorless stall.

Some fast-thinking then occurred: This is the only women’s washroom in the station. I didn’t know where the next closest public washroom was and there was no time to go searching. Whistler was 2.5 hours away, plus loading and unloading time –not going was too risky. The doorless stall was my only option.

Oh well, if someone happened to peek, it was better than the possible alternative. I had to go for it.

I realize it is probably a female thing, but do you appreciate how difficult it is to pee without a door? Thankfully, at 7:30 am on Wednesday morning, Pacific Central Station’s bathroom traffic is very minimal.  I carried on with the day’s unfolding adventure, minimally psychologically scarred.

Christine and Glenda at False Creek This past Sunday, Darrell and I met a Guiding friend Christine who I hadn’t since my Guiding days, many moons ago!  With her partner Mark and their dog Cyrus, the five of us walked and wheeled around the north side of False Creek. We had great time talking, reminiscing and laughing.

After a yummy beverage from Starbucks, we headed back to Science World where they had parked their car and made tentative plans for Canada Day. Darrell and I decided to continue onto the south side of False Creek to see how the 2010 Athletes’ Village is progressing. But, first we had to make a pit stop.

Science World wasn’t really an option without paying for admission. Pacific Central Station with the doorless stall was two blocks away. Along the way was a self-cleaning public washroom on the sidewalk. Although it is supposedly accessible, my fear was I’d take longer than the allowed time and I’d end up having an unplanned shower!

The doorless stall wasn’t sounding too bad after all.

Much to my relief, the accessible stall had been doored! The only problem was it opened out into the traffic flow rather than opening against the far wall. It meant opening the door while reversing and then driving around the somewhat opened door to get into the stall. Then I had to reach for the bottom of the door to close it.  Tricky, but doable!

The fact that I nearly fell off the toilet reaching for the paper, which was so low, was only a minor inconvenience! At least the paper holder was on the correct wall – the one closest to the toilet.


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.

Get the entire series by subscribing to this blog by filling in the form in the upper right corner or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Stuck in Batman’s Bathroom

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by Glenda at 5:28 pm on Monday, June 8, 2009

Partying in Batman's bedroom atop Hotel 71, overlooking downtown Chicago

Accessibility 100Friday evening during SOBCon: Biz School for Bloggers found us partying in the movie Dark Knight’s location used for Batman’s bedroom, which had a great view of Gotham City, also known as downtown Chicago.

Glenda Watson Hyatt and Chris Brogan
(Photo credit: Duong Shehan)

Sitting with chaplain Jon Swanson and watching the many words happening around us, I gave him cause to pause and reflect when I asked: how many were actually meaningful? Culture smith Cheryl Smith kindly helped me with a Klondike Bar – the official snack of Liz Strauss’ Open Mic Nights. And, Chris Brogan and I shared a moment over a rum and coke. Quite a fulfilling networking session, I’d say!

Bean Fairs and Mark Carter discussing ideas

Sunday morning found us back in Batman’s bedroom to do some masterminding for SOBCon’s fantastic sponsors. Our task was to come up with ways for the sponsors to use social media to begin a social conversation about their products or services.

All that I can say is that the sponsors definitely need social media guru Mark Carter! What better way to start a conversation than with laughter. Both Mark and I were laughing so hard that we both had tears streaming down our faces. Everyone else was wondering what was going on at our table.

The session ended none too soon! After laughing so much, I really had to use the bathroom. Thankfully there was an accessible washroom right there. (In other big fancy hotel top floor ballrooms I’ve had to go all the way back down to the lobby to find the accessible washroom.)

batmanbathroomI drove straight in to the bathroom (rough sketch to the right), but even with my scooter nose right against the far wall, the door wouldn’t close. I backed up and tried pulling in beside the toilet. However, a small table and waste paper basket were next to the toilet – dumb place to put them! I was able to squeeze my scooter in between the table and toilet, barely. But now the metal garbage can was at risk – and I couldn’t reach it to move out of the way. It was either the garbage can or a dire consequence.

Sadly, Batman’s stylish metal waste paper basket was round no more!

Then, because I had to drive into the bathroom on an angle, my scooter was wedged in between the toilet and the closed door.  There was no point hollering for help because the door couldn’t be opened. There I was, after successfully trekking all the way to Harpo Studios alone, stuck in Batman’s bathroom! it took me ten minutes of going back and forth to straighten out my scooter enough to back up to the sink.

Note to establishment owners: in accessible washroom, please keep the open space beside the toilet open. This space is necessary for parking the wheelchair.

LIz, Terry, my apologies if SOBCon was charged extra for a vandalized garbage can! I’ll pay for it.


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.

Get the entire series by subscribing to this blog by filling in the form in the upper right corner or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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