This is what happens when you have nothing to blog about

This is a short essay that I wrote for a class. Feel free to read it if you have nothing better to do.

No Walk in the Park

To say that being confined to a wheelchair limits your accessibility to the world is an understatement. And to be an able-bodied person in a wheelchair, albeit briefly, is to look into a world generally ignored and under appreciated.

I never had the illusion that being confined to a wheelchair was a cakewalk. But surely getting into, out of, and around in a brand new building built to meet ADA requirements has to be easier than the alternative... right? Wrong. Of all the things I expected to walk away from this practical assignment with-a new appreciation for my health and mobility, for example-I didn't think I would be angry.

To begin this assignment, I decided to enjoy the fresh air and exited the Math building by using the automatic doors to head over to the new Nursing building. After getting used to moving the wheelchair I was able to maneuver it through the door but it seemed fairly crowded to me. The wheelchair that I was using wasn't overly large, but I did notice that other students partaking in the same exercise were using wheelchairs wider than mine. I wonder if those wheelchairs would have fit through the same door.

After complaining at length that my arms were getting tired from pushing the wheelchair, I arrived at the new building and noticed that a door on the outside of the building had a rather large button on it to open the automatic door. This push button was located on the right side of the double door and I wheeled myself up to it to activate it. Imagine my surprise, then, when the right door started to open...toward me, blocking me in. I had to quickly maneuver the wheelchair around to the other side of the door before I got blocked in (or smacked) by it so I could enter the building (the automatic doors into the Math building open inward). Once that adventure was complete I wheeled myself further inside to explore the building as instructed. After a brief visit down the length of the first floor I retreated to find the elevator to take me to the basement. There it was... behind a set of double doors, with no easy way to access it. At first I tried to open the door by pushing the wheelchair against it from behind, with little success. It was only after someone else opened the door that I was able to enter the area and call for the elevator.

I was pleased to find that the elevator was much more accessible than the doors leading to it so I sat and enjoyed the brief trip to the basement floor. (I wonder, does the basement floor always smell like marijuana?) It was strange seeing a water fountain now at a perfect level for me ("they" got that one right). Getting back to access the elevators was much of the same experience as before. By this point I was more than mildly annoyed that a brand new building built with such amenities as automatic dimming lights wouldn't have an easy way for a person in a wheelchair to actually utilize the elevator with ease.

As I traveled from the Nursing building into the Science building I was dismayed to find that little attention was paid to the floor between the two areas. The Nursing building is an addition to the existing Science building, the outside facade a perfect blend between old and new. But inside I found that there was no smooth transition between either building and as a result the floor was rough where the two met. My wheelchair became stuck there between the two buildings and I had to build momentum to project me forward and come away from the grooves that I had become stuck in. These same grooves could trip an able bodied person, as well. I was shocked that such a simple thing could have been overlooked.

I have heard many great things about the new Nursing building, but after my first visit I have yet to be impressed.


Patrick Truax said...

Good Job..

Patty O said...

Every day the kid I work with and I go to Papa Gino's, it's always a struggle getting in the front door because it's so tight for his wheelchair. Gawd!