Tuesday, February 19, 2008

File under "thanks for sharing"

In this week's cartoon from his series "Dear Disabled Friend," (#12, I can't get the picture to post) Andre Jordan jokes,

Dear Disabled Friend,
It took 10 minutes to find the portaloo. 25 minutes to get you inside the portaloo. And 4 flippin' hours to get you out of it!
I am not going to a pop concert with you ever again!

Sound familiar? You know what I'm talking about! You don't dare to sip a drop of water or a soft drink before an outdoor event, public concert, or before traveling, or think of waterfalls, rivers, and running fountains, lest one extra drop of liquid send that already fragile ecosystem down below searching for a bathroom. Dehydration? A major emergency in hot weather, but a risk worth experimenting with when public accessibility is low. No wonder people with disabilities end up with kidney stones and other urological problems. One of my friends would drink nothing the evening before she traveled, and I'm known to limit when I'll be out for a while. Stopping every 30 minutes in the car doesn't always work, especially on the Great Plains or remote areas in the American West without tree cover or rest stops or even a small town closer than 70 miles away, but oops, the sips of water you needed to get lunch down seem to have escaped from your stomach somehow, and like water splashing over the great wheel at a historical replica of a mill, every drop makes its way post haste to the raging bladder, which threatens to overflow its banks. Oh, the planning every move takes.

But, speaking of pop concerts, it aggravates me to no end that at a concert we want to attend a few months for now, my family cannot sit together. Because of limited accessible seating, PWDs can only have one attendant with them. I'd like to enjoy the experience with both children and my husband, and have my husband's assistance as needed with positioning and getting in and out if needed. Integration, not segregation!

Can't there be some removeable seats at the front of sections (at the front in case people stand at some sporting/concert events)? I also can't attend a game with my son's cub scout group because there's no way for them to secure one accessible seat within a larger group of nondisabled people. Why can't planners and architects figure out this kind of issue? In the scheme of things, it seems like small beans. What if a large group of PWDs wants to attend a show? With other nondisabled people?

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