Should Everything Be Accessible?

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A typical old building in the ghost town of Hornitos, California.

Should everything in the world be wheelchair-accessible?

At first glance, the answer to this query would appear to be yes; however it’s prudent to be wary of questions or statements that include sweeping generalities like “everything”. Most things, yes; but everything? Maybe not so much. Continue reading

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Enjoy Family Day at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

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Cherrie enjoying one of three wheelchair-accessible trails at Calaveras Big Trees State Park.

If you’re looking for one last family outing before summer comes to an end, then head on up to Calaveras Big Trees State Park on Saturday August 20, and enjoy Family Day at the park. Located in Arnold, about a half-hour north of Sonora, this off-the-beaten-path California state park features two Giant Sequoia groves, with wheelchair-accessible trails through both of them.

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2011 Portland Music Fest Features Upgraded Access

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Before yesterday I had never heard of the Pickathon. But then again I don’t live in Portland, Oregon. This 3-day Indie Roots music festival came to my attention when a festival-goer wrote to tell me — are you sitting down folks — about the access upgrades for the 2011 event. So of course, I had to learn more. Continue reading

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Georgia Aquarium Promotes Diversity

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I’m always happy to hear about the promotion of diversity; but I’m especially excited when it concerns a favorite attraction of mine. Such is the case with the Georgia Aquarium, which will be kicking off their third annual Abilities Week with a three-day celebration next week. Slated to run from Feb. 4-6, the celebration will honor people with disabilities in an effort to foster an attitude of understanding and awareness. And there will be lots of fun things to see and do too; with keynote speakers, live entertainment and unique viewing opportunities scheduled throughout the run of the event. Continue reading

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Stalking the Sandhill Cranes

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I discovered a wonderful barrier-free trail — one that’s ideal for viewing the transient Sandhill Cranes — on my way home from the dentist yesterday. Truth be told, Charles discovered it, but I was along for the ride. It’s in the Consumnes River Nature Preserve, located just off Interstate 5 at Twin Cities Road, near Galt. Continue reading

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Super Update

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I?ve had a lot of response about my blog entry about getting accessible seating at the Super Bowl.

The good news is, accessible seating at the University of Phoenix Stadium is excellent. As one reader put it, “It?s almost like being in a box because the accessible seating is roped off. Because of the setup, my husband didn?t have to put up with people bumping into his wheelchair, like he does at other venues.” Continue reading

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A Super Riddle!

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If my dad were alive today he would be ecstatic that the Packers are going to the Super Bowl. Sadly, he will have to watch this game from the great beyond. Even sadder, he (or his spirit), probably has a better chance of seeing this match-up than those mere mortal fans in wheelchairs. Continue reading

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Symphony in the Flint Hills Review

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Well I just got some feedback from a few friends who went to the Symphony in the Flint Hills concert in Kansas. It was held last weekend and from what I hear the weather was great.

The whole premise behind this event was to stage classical music against the backdrop of the Kansas Flint Hills. The organizers wanted to make the event as accessible as possible, but they had some tough challenges. First off, people were suppose to park in the parking lot and either walk or take one of the vintage wagons out to the concert site, which was about a mile away. They wanted to give folks the feeling that they were really out in nature, not just next door to a parking lot. Of course, vintage wagons aren?t very wheelchair-accessible. So as an alternative they had lift-equipped buses with tie downs.

One of my friends, Terry, had a bit of an issue with the tie-downs. Basically the person who was securing his wheelchair was unfamiliar with the tie-downs and it took a while. Terry being the ?rough and tumble type of guy? insisted he did not need them anyway. But the driver said he did. OK, so you see where this is leading.

Terry?s point is that none of the able-bodied passengers on the bus had to be belted in, so why did he? And why shouldn?t the bus driver listen to him? So he was a little miffed about that and said that the drivers should be trained better. I told him that he was being secured, not for his own safety, but for the safety of others on the bus. And most likely it was also a condition of the insurance carrier. He still thought he should have the choice.

Still I think Terry?s biggest beef was that the driver would not listen to him; which is a complaint I hear all to often. Too many times people try and assist you, yet will not listen to your specific instructions on how to lift you or what part of your wheelchair not to touch. People just like to have a little input (or at least appear to have some input) into a situation that directly effects them. Nobody likes to be ignored.

On the brighter side of things, after Terry got to the venue he had a great time. There was accessible seating up front and he just rolled out of his wheelchair and found a space on the grass and enjoyed his picnic lunch and vino (from a plastic container as no glass containers were allowed).

All in all it sounds like a great event. I?m glad the organizers worked to make it accessible, because I know several people who would have missed out otherwise.

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Accessible Rhode Island Contest

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Here’s some fun news from the folks who brought you the excellent Rhode Island access guide (Accessible Rhode Island).

Dare to Dream (the MS support group that came up with the access guide idea) and VSA arts of RI have issued a statewide call for art that will draw attention to the mission of Accessible Rhode Island and showcase the talents of RI students (grades K-12) with disabilities.

The rules are pretty simple. The theme of the artwork should center around “access”, which in this case is defined as “how cultural venues and events can make it easier for people with mobility issues to enjoy the venue.”

“This contest looks to foster a greater understanding among people with and without disabilities of the daily challenges faced by those who live with disabilities and highlight how our student community can creatively draw attention to access solutions,” say Marie Perna of Dare to Dream.

So pass the word along to young RI artists.

For more information contact VSA arts of RI at (401) 725-0247.

What a unique idea for a contest!

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