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Disability Overload

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Wheelchair Dancer Wheelchair Dancer | 17:47 UK time, Sunday, 16 September 2007

Sometimes, you know?

Earlier in the week, I was being interviewed/filmed for a documentary. For the greater part of the 4 hour ordeal, I sat in my chair by the window, but when the light changed, I moved across the room next to the sofa. The cameraman was going to film precisely that .... me, in my chair, next to an empty sofa. I immediately wanted to transfer over because I thought it looked ridiculous ... the disabled woman ... confined to her chair ... not even being able to sit on her sofa. The team exploded in laughter and then teased me for being overly conscious about these types of things. I probably am. But I have had the kind of week where everything and everyone has conspired to remind me that I am different, differently-abled, handicapable, non-abled, not well-bodied (yes, really), disabled.

• Went to a posh restaurant with another wheeling friend. Couldn't pee.
• Woke up to find an article in the NYT about inaccessibility in restaurants ... gah.
• Wrote to the NYT about the consequences of eating and drinking as an important part of going out.
• Went to heroic lengths to get into a theater with same friend in order to see musical.
• Was weirded out by the horrible production about voluntary amputations (the latest hip thing to do!).
• Went to a restaurant the Times said was in the murky to mostly accessible category (you have permission to pee next door)
• Was part of a 4 hour conversation about disability and access in the city and in the world... was entirely incoherent (either that or they were just unspeakably unconscionably out of it.... is disability so hard to get?)
• Went down 43 steps (OK, carefully bumped down) into the subway, rode straight at the people in front of me, leapt the gap. The practical reason for this was no elevator where I was starting, but an elevator where I wanted to go.
• Wondered why the hell was I doing this. I have only ever seen two or three people in the subway in the course of my city life; everyone else is clearly smarter and is taking the bus.
• Was on the bus, bus power system ran out. No way off the bus. Waited until driver could get the thing started. Everyone else had gone, but they wouldn't let me get off, even though I could have bumped down the steps.
• Was recovering from the bus mess when the battery in the Iglide ran out. FLAT. NOTHING. 4 blocks from home.

I have spoken out, stood up, jumped in ... you name it, this week. All I want to do is go about my life, see my friends, and participate invisibly in the world. I don't want to be an advocate, activist, teacher; I want to be a restaurant patron, movie-goer, bus-rider

• Visit the now annoyed, but, happily, 4-toned haired Wheelchair Dancer


  • 1.
  • At 12:31 AM on 17 Sep 2007, Sally wrote:

I must admit that I came across this site purely by chance. I am not disabled but my mother was from the age of 30 untill 43 when she died of MS. I fully understand the complications of trying to get from A to B.This was 15 years ago and you would think by now things would have improved,but I see they have not. I used to be terrified pushing my mum, holding on when the ramps went down, or trying to get her up the steps.I nearly dropped her so many times. They stood and stared and no one helped. Access all areas for everyone. That should be the law.

The sad thing is, it IS the law. Or at least it is in the UK (DDA, I forget what that stands for) and in the US (ADA = Americans with Disabilities Act). The trouble is, both the DDA and the ADA are only partly implemented. Many places continue to ignore them. I'm not sure when the DDA was passed (mid 90s?) but the ADA was passed in 1990.

I've been blogging about some of the various problems with the American version of the law at

  • 3.
  • At 05:41 PM on 17 Sep 2007, wheelchairdancer wrote:

As with many laws, enforcement and implementation are issues.

But the text of the law and the attitudes and abilities of people in the world are two different things. This is the second time I have been stuck on a bus. Each time, it is because the driver is doggedly obeying the laws and MTA procedure.

Anyway. I was just a little overwhelmed last week. This week will be better.


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