Tuesday, September 8, 2009

View from a Wheelchair

Nancy Mairs strikes me as much nicer than me or else she sits much taller on a better cushion--I generally find myself at butt or crotch level with the world rather than waist high, which can be unpleasant and awkward. (I know others have made this observation, but I also realized that as soon as I started using a scooter, fresh from reading one of her essays on her website--"Wait, I'm lower than that!"). People generally seem not to recognize this and place themselves too close. Wheelchair Kamikaze points this out in his great videos of Manhattan; if you've not seen them, they're very enjoyable. In a recent post (go to September 2), Lene Andersen of the Seated View shows how crowds and street fairs can be difficult for us to enjoy when there's not good planning. In addition, one of her favorite restaurants, which is usually accessible, even blocked off the entire sidewalk for additional seating and put a temporary ramp into the street. People with disabilities are thus deliberately excluded from the restaurant.

Even when we can get access or a good view, people often step around us and then directly in front of us, blocking our line of sight. My husband often wants to know whether I saw something or other while we were walking, but the answer is generally no, that I don't see a lot until I stop. I am generally busy navigating carefully through people and paying attention to the sidewalk or bumpy ground unless I'm on very familiar turf, the path is reasonably smooth, and it's not crowded. This is one reason of many that we like to go places at times that are less likely to be crowded.

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