Author Archives: straywheel

Happy Anniversary

Twenty years ago today the Disability Discrimination Act was passed in the UK, later to become part of the Equality Act.

La Pedrera, Barcelona Spain. (Five Stars)

Barcelona is still, in my opinion, the most accessible of all European cities. I have been told that it was made so for the 1992 Paralympics, and it has never lost that easy-rolling characteristic.
For me, as a T-12 para, it’s a breeze.One of the big attractions in Barcelona is the influence, and several examples of, the architecture of Antoni Gaudi; whose buildings, constructed according to his Catalan Modernism still look amazing today. Gaudi’s architecture looks and feels both modern and timeless, as if we have yet to catch up with his style.One of his more famous buildings is “La Pedrera” (or “Stone Quarry” in English), and in 2009, Helen and i had a chance to check it out. I wasn’t too sure about how well it would work, as some of these places constructed before 1970 (at least) can be a challenge to access. I was pleasantly surprised.
I found La Pederera to be a very enjoyable visit, barring these factors…
The access into the building is initially quite “angled”; down an alarmingly steep ramp. There were, however, several staff to help me had I lost control of my chair.
I was urged to go to the roof (“Puede usted va a la terraza!” ). It sounded great! Every one of the staff looked so very pleased to inform me that i could access the roof that i couldn’t resist. Hey, why not? They had a lift.
No. The accessible area on the roof was about 6 foot by six foot, and i had a bit of claustrophobia up there. The roof of La Pedrera is famous for Gaudi’s chimney pots that look like Moorish soldiers, but for a guy in a chair, there wasn’t much of a thrill.
Other than that, the plusses…
The staff was incredibly helpful.
I think i got a massively reduced rate, and my wife got in free as my “Carer”.
Other than the roof, every floor was accessible enough for me to participate in every exhibit that able-bodied people enjoyed,

The best bit was the apartment, maintained in the same style as the flats were decorated at the time (the 1910’s to 30’s) that the building was opened for occupation by the public. The owners of the flat were of the middle class,, so the apartment as was is a beautiful example of what home was like for ordinary people in pre-Franco Spain.

Again,  Barcelona has for me, been a breeze in a chair, and La Pedrera is one of many things that make this city worth a trip

(pssssst! If you take the metro “autobus”from the airport, you can get to Plaza Catalunya for 3.00 Euros, rather than 30.00Euros in a cab)


We’ve never been there, so i am relying on other people’s photos of it, but apparently this is the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico.

I don’t think I’ll be going there anytime soon. Yeah, it’s ramped, but that doesn’t look ADA compliant to me. Helen and I are pretty courageous in our travels, but there are some places on this earth that I really don’t need to visit. This is one of them.

Paris Access

Helen and I recently took a trip to Paris. Getting there from London is a very pleasant two hour fifteen minute train ride on the Eurostar from St Pancras International, to Gare du Norde. Eurostar personnel are always very friendly and efficient (it helps if you remind them throughout check-in that you’ll need a ramp) and train travel means I don’t have to transfer in and out of my chair and I am able to roll around the carriage and use the loo if I want. I prefer this over plane travel by far.

Access in Paris is very good. Most of the sidewalks/pavements are easy and free of cobbles, or even seams, as they tend to be made of one solid paving of concrete. The metro system is not accessible, but the buses are, and the #38 takes us straight from Gare du Norde to Place St Michel on the Left Bank (our favorite part of the city).

A good portion of the shops are on the ground level, with an easy ramp. Here’s a photo of the entrance to a “Carrefour” (a chain of convenience and supermarkets found throughout France)…

The curbs are very well ramped at most intersections. here is an example…


and another one…

Outdoor seating is a wonderful way to avoid the dilemma of finding a restaurant with step-free access (although most have an accessible entrance if one wants to eat indoors), and there are few of Life’s Great Pleasures that can beat sitting in an outdoor cafe and having a plate of bread and cheese and a bottle of French wine, watching Paris walk by.

There are also several places where access to the banks of the Seine can be had down ramped roads, although they can be a little steep, and there are cobbles at the bottom. I just took it slow, and it went well, and we had a lovely picnic of (you guessed it), bread and cheese and wine in the sun, near Notre Dame. This is what the cobbled bit looks like…

Looking the other way, you get a view of Notre Dame.



Cafe with outdoor seating, at night.

le st andrecropped
e had a wonderful time. We’ll be back.

I wish this were a freak incident.

But it’s not. I cannot count how many times I have had to tell the person on the phone that I am disabled (WCHC, which means i cannot walk or stand), only to have to tell the ground crew at check in that I am WCHC disabled, and then to have to tell the ground crew at the gate that I am WCHC and will need an aisle chair, only to have them act as though this is the first time that they have heard of it, and the personnel and aisle chair arrive late, meaning I get to board in front of a plane load of passengers.

“We’ve researched the details of this Denver customer’s travel and can verify that she checked in at her flight at Newark Liberty International Airport two hours prior to her scheduled departure. but a processing error in that check-in process did not alert our employees at the gate to her special need (wheelchair) in boarding the aircraft.”

This needs to be fixed, and it isn’t specific to any one airline.

This is really discouraging,

Helen and I were in Denver a couple of years ago, and since I’m rather fond of old train stations, we went down to see Union Station. It was being renovated; surrounded by scaffolding and rubble, so we couldn’t go in.

Well they’ve finished it, according to this article, but also according to this article, “The station’s Great Hall features a public area with seating and shuffleboard tables, but the area is elevated and unreachable by people who can’t climb stairs, according to the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.”

And, “The Coalition says RTD has offered to set up a temporary ramp when someone needs it. The group’s attorney, Andrew Montoya, says that’s not enough.

That’s absolutely not the same experience, basically to have to go around, see that there is no ramp, and then make your way around, trying to find someone who maybe can get a ramp out for you,” Montoya said.

I know exactly what Mr Montoya is talking about. Equal access doesn’t mean that an able bodied person gets to walk up a flight of stairs while their disabled counterpart has to go find someone and ask them, “Excuse me sir/madam, could you please put up the ramp?”

How is this even possible? I could understand if the station were in its original condition, but they just renovated it and the ADA has been in force since 1990. How hard is it to install a permanent ramp?

Thank you to the Facebook group, “Representing Disability in an Ableist World” for this information.

This Looks Pretty Cool

I have not tried this product and I have no affiliation with the company, but this looks like it might be pretty slick.

Watch the video.

Japan On Wheels From Someone Who Has Been There

It doesn’t sound great, but it sounds do-able. 

Helen and i have been to a few places that were only “do-able” and still had a great time.

This made me laugh.

Well, no kidding.

This Beggars Belief.

So, instead of making sure that restroom facilities are ADA compliant, a facility has the option of just closing all the restrooms?

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