Feb 18, 2012

28 WHEN WHEELCHAIR ACCESS BECOMES INACCESSIBLE.

wheelchairAs an able body person I try not to take my mobility for granted. Every day I am thankful for every step I take and able to make on my own unassisted, I say thank you everyday to the Divine master. I was reminded today of the importance of always staying humble and appreciative by an incident that mirrored one I witnessed last year.

Last year I observed an incident that left me feeling sick to my stomach. I was waiting for my bus in the subway; it was more than 45 minutes late. Like me most of the people waiting for the same bus were irritated.  Among the passengers was a woman wheelchair bound, she sat quietly and waited patiently. She was already there when I arrived so it’s reasonable to think she was there more than the 45 minutes. The bus arrived 7:38pm. The door opened and we all waited to the side for the driver to lower the ramp for the woman to board. He tried however, it did not work, he looked apologetically at the woman and said, “I am sorry but the ramp is not working, you will have to wait for the next bus.” I thought to myself, “Oh God, she has been waiting so long already.” As the bus pulled out I looked at her sitting there with the saddest look on her face, that look made me feel sick, it made me think…putting myself in the position and feeling hollow.

Yesterday I witnessed the same thing unfold in the very same way, the only difference was the woman was angry and very vocal about it. She raved at the broken down buses and waiting endlessly only to have those ramps not work. Interwoven in all her raving was hurt and humiliation and I thought, “God there has to be a better way to ensure these buses equipped specifically to include people in wheelchairs work consistently. There has to be better alternatives than sitting for hours in hopes that a bus with a working ramp shows up.” 

I was left feeling miserable, a drop in the bucket of emotional hurts in comparison the woman who is actually living the experience. Every time I see an out of service elevator I think of people in wheelchairs who depend on the lifts to aid in their mobility so they can live their lives and I am struck by the same questions invading my mind, “what are they suppose to do when the very things built to aid in their mobility hinders it, taking weeks even months to fix, how will they get down/up to the subway so they can get on the train to there appointments or homes?” Its just madness you know, how the simplest of things can represent the trial and tribulation one has to face in life.

28 comments:

  1. Your anger and disillusionment is understandable.How much more would it be for those affected can be imagined.
    The fault lies with the public utilities.It is their job to ensure that the buses are in good contion in all respects before put on road.It is just carelessness of someone entrusted with the job with very poor oversight.I have seen long distance trains pulling in to the platforms with no water in the toilet or fused bulbs or broken seats or the floor of the compartments uncleaned with litter all over.Ofcourse these days if we SMS a designated number help comes readily.I trust your transport system has such a facility.I wish someone in authority in the department reads your post

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    1. There is a website and number one can contact and I have phoned but seriously i feel it is to no avail. I just felt incredible guilty, sad and concerned for the woman left behind for no fault of her own other than the inadequacy of the Toronto Transit System. I Often wonder if they understand the human impact of ill equipped buses with ramps that do not work. Its just a shame you know. It just gets to me, this life we have a fragile, things can change without a moments notice and our world as we know it can evaporate in the snap of a two fingers. Our mobility cannot and should not be taken for granted.

      I think the next time it happens (God forbid) i would stay back with her, try calling in again and perhaps go so far as to make an official complain to the MPs-don't know how far that would go but its worth a try. In fact i don't think i would wait for a next time but to try and see what steps i can take to do something. At the very least i have to try right?

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    2. Do muster support as there is strength in numbers.Write to newspapers.You have the skill to write a forceful and impressionable letter that would make the authorities to sit up.Give a veiled threat that TTC should compensate the lady for discrimination and for the loss of valubale time.Create lot of noise and hullaballoo to make others join you keeping in mind at the sametime that you agitate within the confines of law.

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  2. I absolutely love your blogs. You are so humble and clearly live in a place of gratitude. I can so understand this topic as my Auntie and a really good friend I hang with are both physically challenged.

    I don't know if you have ever checked out the organization I am involved with these days but I think you might be an awesome addition to our bloggers.

    Check us out at www.acelebrationofwomen.org and let me know what you think.

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    1. Hey Tiff, i checked out the site, got some great stuff going on. Is there a membership process?

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  3. I hope you do try to help.

    People like you make a difference, you know... =) Take your cell phone. Snap photos. Call the news, call the newspaper. I don't know "media" in Toronto but work it.

    Be the change you seek, right? =)

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    1. Yeah, i am in the process of composing a letter to send to the TTC website on this very issue. Its just rediculous you know, i have witnessed this twice, twice too many if you ask me. Know one should have to deal with that kind of humiliation. Its just not right.

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  4. Thank you so much for lending your voice for those of us who are not able bodied. You warm my heart.

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    1. Thank you, i will try to do more than talk about it. I don't know how far it will go but at least i can try.

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  5. This is touching and very thoughtful of you Rhapsody..God Bless You...

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    1. Thanks Darling, in life one never know where they would be, we would all like to think that we can predict what our circumstance will be, truth is no one truly knows, we can hypotosis but beyond that there is no certainty of knowing. It is wise to remain humble and grateful.

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  6. heey love, how are you doing?
    this actually got me thinking
    Thank you Lord for my life and my health
    Thank you for all I am able to do by grace
    Amen x

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  7. I totally feel you on this one. It truly breaks my heart that life has to be harder for some of us out of no fault of ours. At least Toronto has a system in place. In a place like Nigeria, there are no provisions for stuff like that. We tend to ignore the needs of PLWD. There is that attitude of "if i'm not paraplegic, then it's not my business". The truth is like you said, no one is guaranteed tomorrow and just because you're "fit" today doesn't mean you're always going to be fit. It kills me sometimes to see even hospitals without ramps. New building are erected everyday without ramps. PLWD have to be carried up even public buildings. They attend tertiary institutions without ramps (even the new private universities) The president has refused to sign the disability bill as if PLWD are not members of the society but freaks of nature. The government makes it seem as if they are doing PLWD favours forgetting that they as citizens are entitled to equal rights as people who are not living with disabilities.

    And you guessed right. This topic is too close to home so i totally get it. God bless you Rhapsody.

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    1. God have mercy, isn't mind boggling how we can make things difficult for each other just by inconsideration? Its a sad thing when human beings are dismissed due to their differences and their humanity regarded with indifference. We are all a product of the almmighty and cannot/should not allow the ignorance of others to sweep us away in a wave of blatant disregard and indifference. It only takes one and we have to plant the seeds in ourselves and act thereby planting the seeds in someone else.

      thank you for sharing and I pray that God sits himself in the middle of the chest of those in powerd and clear their hearts, minds and soul of indifference.

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  8. Unfortunately stuff happens. Funds are cut and things are mismanaged. Plus you have to wade through layers of bureaucracy to find answers and get results. The best we can do in situations such as these is help each other.

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    1. hmmmmm..... Yeah you are absolutely right, though we still have to try and bring it to the attention of the "powers that be"

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  9. I'm not in a wheel chair but using a cane and being disabled I can't begin to thank you enough for bringing this subject up. Everyday I run into people who seem to think they are actually being cheated because they don't get the same treatment as someone who actually NEEDS it. I have even been screamed at(yes and in public) by some of these aweful people and if it wasn't for security I may have been in trouble. Sadly most of the time this happens there is no security around and it happens more than I'd like. If only they could walk a day on my legs and live in my body and see what they'd say about it then! You have great empathy for others and that's what I love about you my friend! We need more people in the World like you. Hugs!

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    1. Sadly I have found that while you will find some people to empathize there is a great many that are unable to even sympatize unless they are in the same position or the threat of the position looms over them. Years ago something happened to me, and the person who was in the position to do something about it seem to behave very nonchalant and indifferent, it was only when that person was confronted by the very same situation where they able to empathize. It was only then they sprang into action to put things in place to prevent the reoccurence. A frightening thing because had the result been deadly there would not have been any coming back from it.

      It was a sobering experience to realize that it wasn't the value of my life that spirited the action and prevention but the value of their own and the possibility of it been threatened that movitated the proactive preventative measures. Ain't that a kick in the teeth?

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  10. This is heart touching but such incidents do happen and no one bothers. I wonder if a few people standing there could have lifted the chair into the bus. Public utilities every where is in a mess and the public put up with all sort of nonsense. The other day I went to the post office to pay my internet bill only to be told that there is no power to operate the computers and I will have to wait till the electricity comes. When I inquired whether there was stand by power I was told there is none. In other words I will have to wait till the electricity dept. restores the power supply and no one know when. I went back home because the post office is close by and I can go another day. I was upset and angry but what can be done. Only later on I realized I could have written in the complaint register.

    I feel very sorry for handicapped people, some are born handicapped other become handicapped due to illness or accident. I also thank God for giving me a healthy body with all my limbs intact so that I can use them. I know the ability to use these limbs becomes weaker as we get older yet I thank God for my ability to walk,lift,read,hear,smell and feel for so many decades. I am slowing down. I still remember my youth when I used run on the beach,roads,hills and go to the gym and play foot ball. Those days are over. I still walk and walk with gratitude to the Almighty because I know there are people who can't walk.

    Very interesting post.

    Best wishes,
    Joseph

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    1. I rail at the injustices and arrogance of others that take for granted their able-bodiness as if that makes them invisible. I try always to see the otherside to stand if but for a moment in the other shoes, its keeps me humble and grateful. It reminds me of the fragility of life and how quickly ones situation can change. It is wise always to be mindful that one's agility is a blessing not an entitlement or an excuse to become indifferent to the plight of others.

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  11. We take so many things for granted.

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    1. Yes we do, arrogant in our "assuredness" we become indifferent and unkind to those that are different from us.

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  12. I feel you and probably would share the same emotions as the vocal woman in the wheelchair. I mean, it's one of those things where the handicapped are being overlooked or somewhat mistreated, in a way. We all encounter such behavior on a day-to-day basis. But, as Wanda stated, it's our luxury to afford to take as much for granted.

    We are forced to await during lateness...the women in the chair are forced to wait and then find themselves unaccommodated, altogether.

    Unfortunately.

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    1. hmmmm.....yeah, i gather, it was hard to witness and i believe on her part much harder to experience.

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  13. Now imagine how it is for those in Nigeria. No-one provides a ramp much less one that may or not work. It is indeed sad.

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    1. It is gut wrenchingly sad. In the eyes of this imagining of a dark reality for people with disabilities that impede their mobility outside of the western world I able to comprehend that disabled peoples of this western society in many ways do have more accessibility options than those outside of it. However true those realities are though, the unfairness cannot be qualified using the comparisons for suffering however privileged one may be is still suffering.
      If "we" (the governing powers that be) commits to the equality, fairness and accessibility for all herald through political platforms and then by building ramps, lifts, and other tools of accessibility it all needs to be supported in its entirety. Sustainability has to be a priority.
      There has to be mandates to ensure that the tools built to create access is properly maintained and alternatives readily available so that the disabled peoples are not stranded for hours in cold subways hoping on a wing and a prayer that a bus with a working ramp show up or have to have to cancel medical appointments because subway elevators are out of service (sometimes 6 wks or more).
      Services have to be improved. Sure there has been a lot of work in terms of accessibility however we cannot use those achievements of what has been done as a comparison of what hasn’t been done elsewhere to justify the inequities or allow us to become complacent and duplicitous in our actions and sensitivities.
      We have to do more than talk the talk of inclusivity and accessibility; we must walk the talk as well.

      Thank you for stopping by and opening my eyes wider to the cause, have a blessed weekend.

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