Stacy Ellingen

Stacy’s Journal: Life’s Detours

2019-10-05
By: Stacy Ellingen
Posted in: Stacy's Journal

It’s often said that there are five seasons in Wisconsin—Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Road Construction.  Obviously, calling road construction a season is a facetious way of saving that there’s a lot of road work that goes on from about April until November.  Road construction often leads to delays and detours.  Even though it’s necessary to keep the roads functional and safe, people usually get aggravated by it because it takes longer to reach their destination.  Nothing really can be done about it other than leaving earlier or finding different routes.  It’s part of life.  Many people with physical disabilities don’t drive, but we often experience our own type of road construction so to speak—navigating through life in an “accessible” world.

Unless one is unable to, people don’t think about how many times they did step up and down from something each day. Whether it’s stepping in and out of a vehicle, stepping off a sidewalk to cross the street, or riding a escalator in an airport, people step up and down multiple times a day.  People who have mobility issues often are very aware of these things because we have to find ways to overcome these simple steps that most people take for granted.

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, most public places are “accessible.”  I put the word accessible in quotes because, in my opinion, it’s a relatively loosely used term in today’s day in age.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for the advancements in accessibility over the last 30 years.  They have greatly improved my life and have allowed me to do and experience many wonderful things.  However, with that said, there is still vast room for improvement.  I also should mention that in many cases things that are deemed accessible often require people to go to great lengths in order to access whatever it is.  Let me explain.

My parents and I recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas.  We’re not huge gamblers, but I love the city because there’s always so much going on.  Since I love going there, we usually go once a year.  After the airlines ruined my power chair a few years ago, I only fly with my manual wheelchair, so I have to be pushed everywhere.  I’ll write about getting through an airport in another journal another time, but everything from getting an accessible shuttle to our hotel to crossing the street we seemed to run into barriers.

We’re pretty seasoned travelers, so my dad had booked a wheelchair accessible shuttle to the hotel.  We get there, and, of course, vans from the transport company were there; however, not the accessible one.  We had to wait over a half hour for it.  We finally get to our hotel and start walking around.  There are lots of skywalk bridges between the hotels on the Strip.  Each side of the skywalk has stairs, an escalator, and an elevator.  In Vegas, elevators seem to frequently break down.  Multiple times, we found ourselves stuck on a skywalk because an elevator was out.  When that happened, we usually had to go back down in the elevator that was working and find a different way.  Admittedly, very unsafe, but there were a few times where my dad justice tilted my chair back and took in me down the escalator (we found some nice people to stand in front of me in case I’d fall).

Skywalks weren’t the only thing.  There were four steps up to the pool deck at our hotel.  If people with mobility issues wanted to go to and from the pool area, they had to find a hotel employee who would have to call another employee to walk us through the back to get to and from it.  This would take forever, so my dad just pulled my chair up and down the stairs each time.  Our hotel’s casino had four stairs in the middle of the going to the lower tier where the main entrance was.  The ramp was under construction all the while we were there.  Again, they wanted people who used wheelchairs and scooters to wait to be escorted around the back.  We never did this because we didn’t want to wait—my dad again pulled me up and down each time.  When you have a limited time on vacation somewhere, the last thing you is wait to be escorted because you can’t do stairs.

Vegas isn’t the only place where these things happen.  It’s really everywhere.  Many places’ accessible entrances often aren’t their main entrances.  While I’m thankful there’s an accessible entrance, it doesn’t seem fair to me that I have to use a different entrance then everybody else.  Obviously, that’s just my opinion, and I understand that everything can’t be made totally accessible everywhere.

Though, our “road construction” isn’t what most people think of, it’s still aggravating.  While it’s fun to fantasize about, I don’t think there will ever be a totality accessible world.  There will probably always be roadblocks and detours people with disabilities to overcome.  Life is full of detours and roadblocks for everyone—not just those with disabilities.  It’s hoping we handle and persevere through them that shows a person’s character!

***The views expressed here are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of InControl Wisconsin, the Network or any of our sponsors.

 

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