January 30, 2016 - 9:51 AM
That old adage about walking a mile in someone’s shoes? It’s true, especially when it helps you realize just how inaccessible some places truly are for those with physical disabilities.
Have you tried to navigate a store during the Christmas season, or even worse, Boxing Day sales? Maybe even just on stock day when the aisles are full of pallets piled high with products ready to get put on the shelves. Now imagine that in a wheelchair, or on crutches, or with a walker. Not pleasant and definitely not easy.
What about fresh snow or ice or slippery, slushy parking lots filled with puddles and potholes? As someone with two fully functioning legs, it’s usually quite easy to maneuver around those obstacles without much of an issue. Throw some wheels or a bad leg into the mix and it’s a whole other story.
Recently someone took to a Facebook group to complain about the accessibility in a local store, and the rude response he got from the employee. Needless to say there was a lot of support for this wheelchair-bound man, and not a lot for the store. And rightfully so.
I often see stores, buildings and associations boasting they are ‘accessible’, which sounds great, until you have the challenge of proving it.
Those ramps in the sidewalk that are supposed to make it easier on wheelchairs, walkers and people who can’t take big steps? They get really slippery at this time of year. Those tile-covered floors in the grocery store? The dust that accumulates on them is quite slippery as well.
For those in wheelchairs relying on public transit or taxi service, the issue can be even more difficult. Only certain vehicles are equipped to handle wheelchairs and in an effort to make the city more openly accessible, Kamloops City councillors recently discussed the option of asking local taxi services to offer more wheelchair-friendly service, and publishing that information on the city website.
What we found was the two service providers have five wheelchair-accessible vehicles between them, and they each try to keep at least one available at all times. While this is definitely a step in the right direction, it is little comfort to those who are struggling to navigate our city while in a wheelchair.
I’ve now been on crutches for several months and while my injury is temporary and I know it won’t be much longer before I can walk on two feet again, my understanding and compassion for those with mobility issues will always remain.
And you might not have a clue what I am talking about because you haven't walked, or travelled, a mile in someone else’s shoes.
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