Sunday, May 24, 2009

Access, It's an attitude!

We took the family out to see Night at the Museum 2 at our favorite local theatre. Why is it our favorite? Accessibility of course. It has wheelchair seating in the first row and unlike a competing franchise, lots of chairs for companions or families. We can all sit together! And they have nice ramps at all the regular entrances. In fact, no stairs. A great separate restroom so we don't even have to jockey past all the regular stalls to get to the "big one" at the end. Even the snack area has low counters and is wide and easy to navigate. 

More importantly, the staff there are always a pleasure. They are helpful without being obtrusive or indulgent. They always greet all three of my children without singling any of them out. Most refreshing to me, this theatre employs a number of people with disabilities, so my children feel at home-- this place reflects our lived experience.  And my daughter who has a disability interacts with folks who are doing work that demands a great deal of interaction with the public. I believe this is part of the reason the whole staff there is so much more skilled than the public at large at interacting with our family. They have peers and colleagues with disabilities and varying abilities; interacting with us is a normal part of their lives.

Access is so much more than a ramp, it is an attitude of normalcy, an experience of being welcomed and fitting in. I am so glad to have places like this, and as my children experience more inclusion at school, I look forward to a future where most places are like this. Thank you again to the many generations before us who worked on ADA and IDEA.