It’s not titled “Adventures in a PTSD World” for nothing and I did say that this blog shared the dual purpose of mentoring and as a place for me to vent every once in a while.
Well, its a while! And I’m not even sure where this will go but lets just jump right in, shall we?
I don’t look, act or speak as if I have a disability…or maybe thats the other persons perception of what a disability is and at what level it impacts them? Suffice to say its a mental health disability that limits me, more than the physical one that I don’t count. Thus the requirement for a Service Dog but this is not a rant about service dogs, this is about something way more important, this is about the attitude of non-disabled people towards accessibility in general. It’s reached a level of revulsion in me that no longer do I wish to “educate” people about the importance of accessibility but wish to crack them over the head with “The Code” and not just for people with disabilities. Now I believe that there are more than a few that resent the AODA, don’t understand where it comes from, are angry that they have to spend money and from personal experience, break the AODA on purpose because it has no teeth and twist other regulations to do the absolute minimum.
Let’s start at the beginning…this morning I had a counsellor appointment and all was good, confusing a little but that was normal as I still don’t get how some things are connected. I guess the important part was that I was open, vulnerable but not scared. So I left there, went to the bank and then Tim’s before driving home, everything is still okay, just me and Tonka driving home listening to the radio. And I get thinking about something else and how its going to inconvenience me with something important, with a deadline thats running out…and it starts!
By the time I get back to town I’m trying to stay calm and just deal with the flow, then I see it. The open door of the store cutting the sidewalk width in half, held open with a block and a display sign hiding behind it. That and I’d just noticed that the sports bar had their board sign blocking the walkway by the tree, again. Then I thought of how the signage for the accessible parking never got done, how the building inspector deemed brail on washroom signage not necessary as blind people couldn’t see where the sign is and the extreme efforts in our town to create public transportation without creating any conventional transportation system, then have the audacity to say “it doesn’t need to be accessible”! Those thoughts are minor compared to where I got after thinking about the accessibility committee being disbanded and the rest of it…arrrghhhh!
But there was that door, opening into the sidewalk. I’d been hit by a different one yesterday that I didn’t know was there. The two girls looked at me as if it was my fault, like I was the one in the way! Thats when the “what if’s” started. Thats when I started calling people and leaving not quite polite messages, impatience took over without immediate response, fear of betrayal became anger and then things spun away, now I rant to resolve.
Of course it started with something small and now, maybe, I’m being overdramatic its only $30, however I have to drive 40 minutes to pay it because it took them 10 days to process my request, then I find out today that its supposed to be free. I’ll go pay it tomorrow and get done what I need…its only $30…who cares about how much it will cost in gas to give someone $30 while smiling because you wanna rip their head off for stealing your money by kidnapping your personal medical records…I’m okay, its fine, little slip, sorry!
Now back to this door. I’ve almost walked into this glass door several times now, I mean who expects a glass door to be opened into the sidewalk? I’m walking along reading the road banner and WHOA!!! Then I get hit by another one yesterday. The week prior I’m speaking with this lady in a wheelchair being pushed by her husband and we start talking about the state of accessibility within the town. She tells me all kinds of different things and I wish I could make everything better for her but I can’t, so I encourage her to write to the town. Then I see the sports bar sign and mention how we keep trying to get the business owners to move their signs. She tells me how she has already hit two with her arms because there wasn’t enough room to push her wheels and how she’s ready to start knocking them all over, she didn’t care, she was tired of the bullshit! I said I’d speak with the town for her, her response was perfect. File a human rights complaint or they won’t listen!
There you have it in a nutshell…perhaps educating some people really does need the “bigger hammer”. I have the experience and knowledge to do it but do I?
Someone once asked me if I want to be known as “that ass who” or “the guy who”? In a small town like the one I live in thats the most important question. Which will I be?
The ass that made all the businesses move their signs, correct the safety of pedestrians by fixing doors and allow people with disabilities to navigate the sidewalks as per the law?
Or, the guy who helped the BIA understand what accessibility is all about and that all people with a disability want is to live their life as you do, anyway you want too.
I’ve tried the first for two years now. I’ve spoken with others who have tried for decades. I spent almost 400 hours building a seminar of the AODA for the town staff. I’ve listened to politicians be indignant when held accountable to the AODA.
And I’ve watched the administration, council and businesses of my town discriminate against people with a disability, any kind of disability, for the last time!
I’ve spoken with them about the importance of the AODA. I’ve been in the same AODA training from the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario as they were. I’ve taught them the AODA and OHRC. They have signed off on all this training and filed a compliance report with the Directorate. And yet, they still haven’t learned!
Time for a “bigger hammer”. I’d like to be known as “the ass who”, this time!