Now for those of you who know me, this is a warning. I guess basically it’s a warning for everybody. I’m about to have a little rant. Something has recently been brought to my attention again and I wish to vent. You have been warned.
I live my life from the seat of wheelchair. Again, to those of you who follow me you know this. It does not affect the person I am but it can have a great effect on my surroundings. I’m occasionally hampered by steps, by doors and by people. The steps and doors, I just look for another way or sometimes don’t do what I wanted to do. The people, that’s where life gets interesting.
As a child I was painfully shy. I didn’t speak up in class, I wouldn’t look anyone in the eye and I lived my life terrified that someone would speak to me. Obviously, I survived. In High School I joined the drama club by accident and I was given tools to help me deal with my insecurities. I grew to love inhabiting someone else’s psyche. And then this happened.
In my middle 20s I developed multiple sclerosis. As diseases go it really isn’t that awful. I was able to hide it for many years. But eventually it became obvious. The wheelchair is a dead giveaway. With assistance I am still able to continue to have a fulfilling life. Our government is wonderful at mandating that society assist with disabilities. And for the most part they do comply beautifully. But then there are the other ones.
I went to see a movie a little while ago in a very big, well known Cinema. They said they were wheelchair accessible and technically they are. And here is something I don’t think most people understand. You can be technically correct and still be oh so very wrong. My wheelchair accessed the cinema perfectly but the only spot available to park said wheelchair was so close to the screen that I couldn’t take in the whole image without moving my head. There was no one sitting anywhere near me because no one wants to sit that close to the screen.
Think of sitting in front of your TV. Now think of sitting 3 inches from the screen of your TV. Are you comfortable? When I mentioned to the manager that this was a problem and asked if there were there any other places for wheelchairs to sit, I was greeted with a shrug. You know the shrug, that raising of the shoulders to the ears that signifies “I don’t give a rat’s ass”. But because no words are exchanged it can be denied.
I did try to watch it. It was a good movie and I really wanted to see it. I had to wait for it to be on TV where I could actually see the whole screen.
I tried to call the head office (this is a really big organization) and had a hell of a time. No one was terribly interested in what I had to say. It was brought to my attention, quite forcefully, that they had passed all the laws to be fully wheelchair accessible. I asked them if they knew what it meant to be wheelchair friendly. I swear to you, I heard their shoulders go up.
I know that things are significantly better than they used to be for people with disabilities. It will never be perfect. There’ll always be someone that is unsatisfied. I am thankful that I am welcomed in so many places. But sometimes I just want to watch a bloody movie. And in some places that is too much to ask.
There is a movie house I do frequent that goes above and beyond for wheelchairs. It is privately owned by someone who cares.
This is something these big corporations don’t seem to understand: if something benefits me and my wheelchair it also benefits many others. People with canes, walkers, baby carriages. I want to live in a world that is completely inclusive. Perhaps that is only something that is possible when individuals are involved. Corporations spent too much time looking at their bottom line.
Rant completed. Thank you for your attention.