Here’s a quick story of what was to be a short walk with my mom, on a lovely sunny day, to the new accessible little park down by the lake. And when I say accessible, I mean NOT really at all accessible for me or probably any other wheelchair user. In fact, they probably could have left the curb cut out because people are only going to get more stuck the further they go.
Part 1 – “Lovely day for a walk to the lake”
Says my mom, all the time! It’s a holiday in the U.S. so I went along. I drove my chair while my mom tried to keep up. I wasn’t even on the fastest speed.
Part 2 – Look the newly redone little park even has a nice curb cut
Says my mom. One car and bike go past and the next car stops to let us cross the street to the park. Mom takes a couple pictures because really, it’s nice that our township redid this park and tried to make it more accessible. Right? We should post and tweet about that, it’s a good thing.
Part 3 – ZZZ WRONG!
We start our way down the black, rocky path which is wide enough for a wheelchair. So, that’s good. My wheels begin to sink as we near the bench. We maybe should have stopped here. But, thought it would be easier to turn around if we went down to the turns or to the bottom of the path. Again, WRONG! We got to the lower turn on the path, and my drivewheel was spinning deeper and deeper. I was spectacularly stuck.
Part 4 – Dad to the rescue
Mom can’t get me unstuck. Mom calls dad. Dad drives the several blocks to the park. Dad also thinks maybe we can get turned around on the larger rocks at the bottom of the path. Both mom and dad are able to help drive and push me to the bottom. I didn’t go into the lake. I swore. Dad swore. Mom maintained her calm, positive outlook on the situation. Dad gets me out of my chair and carries me back up the path where my mom holds me on the bench. Reminder for all, I use a wheelchair, because I am not able to sit independently, let alone walk. My dad wrestles, pushes, drives, swears his way up the path with my chair until he passes us on the bench and gets it back to the solid curb cut. Mom and dad carry me from the bench back to my chair. (Sorry, no pictures of dad pushing chair since mom was holding me on the bench and dad was pissed – imagine the pictures we could have taken!)
Part 5 – MOM, YOU’RE INCORRIGIBLE and when designing for accessibility, perhaps someone should do some user testing to see that it’s actually accessible
Nothing more to say about adventures with mom part. Really, I do love my adventures with my mom. Even though we seem to get stuck at times…
Whoever designed this park and whoever from our township thought they were making a park that was wheelchair accessible were wrong. I doubt that anyone tested this out with an actual human being who actually uses a wheelchair. I use a power chair and the path failed horribly. I don’t even know how someone who is using a push chair would make it on this path. It’s not packed down solid enough.
The flowers are lovely… I just don’t get to see them up close, anymore.
NEXT ACCESSIBILITY CHECK: Maggie Rogers concert at the Armory in Minneapolis later this month.
3 thoughts on “Appearances may be deceiving OR how something might appear accessible but in reality…”
I hope this story makes it to the right desk of the right city worker who can make this right. Thanks for sharing this – swears and all! I can just picture your mom being optimistic and calm!!
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I figured accessible playgrounds had the more solid foam since the wood chips or sand would trap wheels. These rocks don’t look much better than sand. I assume there are guidelines for this kind of thing and reference materials for designers, if they cared to look.
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I’ve copied a link to an organization that helps with this: http://magicalbridge.org/