Accessible Date Group Blog
Shannon Elliot, Emma Windham, Shelby Rowe
We started our date by walking/rolling from Shannon’s house on East Campus to Shakespeare’s on Ninth Street. We instantly realized that Shannon's house, along with almost all of her neighbors' houses, were not wheelchair accessible. We also discovered that both Shelby and Emma's houses had stairs and no ramps. The sidewalks of East Campus are uneven, which could make transportation difficult for our partner. If the sidewalks are too much of an issue, then public transportation would be the most convenient option. There is a bus stop on University Avenue, which is a short stroll from Shannon’s house and would allow our date to avoid the uneven sidewalks and brick roads that lead to College Avenue.
Once we arrived to Shakespeare’s, we entered the building from the entrance on Ninth Street because it is at street level and easily accessible. We then ordered a medium cheese pizza, a couple beers, and, of course, pick up the tab for our date. The interior of Shakespeare’s only has ramps and not any stairs, which allows our date to pick any table they want without being secluded to a specific “handicapped” area. However, inside Shake’s is narrow and if the day were crowded (which it usually is), it could be hard to maneuver around the restaurant. Also, the back entrance to Shake’s does not have a ramp, meaning we would have to either sit in the front of the restaurant or wade through the crowd to exit.
After we chowed down on cheesey goodness, we exited the door on Ninth Street and walked/rolled to Rag Tag Cinema. Rag tag has a ramp entrance, which means it was accessible for date. Also, the interior of Rag Tag is flat and one level. The theaters are accessible for our date because Rag Tag provides ramps rather than stairs to enter the theater. The inside of the theaters could pose a problem, as the isles are tiny and narrow. The only real seating option for a person in a wheelchair would be the front of the theater. This does provide a good number of seating options; however personally, we find the front of the theater bothersome because we would constantly have to be looking straight up. Also, if multiple people on the date were in wheelchairs, it might be hard to make enough room for everyone. Upon checking out the bathrooms, we found that there was a public restroom labeled for women with no wheelchair accessible stalls and a one person bathroom that was accessible. After, we exited Rag Tag using the ramps from the theater to the main floor, and then using the ramps that exit onto the street.
Our next destination was Peace Park for some privacy with our date. We found the walk to Peace Park relatively accessible because ramps are provided at corners throughout downtown. A problem we noticed though was that the streets downtown are skinny and can be bumpy. It would be enough room for one person in a wheelchair to walk next to another person not in a wheelchair, however if two or more people were rolling together, it would not be possible. We then accessed Peace Park by using the pathways that run on the exterior and through the park. Ideally, we wanted to find a secluded bench for our date and us to relax privately. There were a few benches that were located right off of the path, which gave easy access. The benches were placed on blocks of cement that unfortunately were raised from the grass and did not have enough room to fit a wheelchair next to. Our date would have to be able to lift themselves onto the benches (or obviously, we would help, if help was wanted).
Overall, we found that our date was possible however there would be many times where adjustments would have to be made that would not be made if our date was not in a wheelchair. This could be awkward in certain instances however we recognized that our date would probably be used to these adjustments. We also realized that we weren’t fully aware of what would pose a problem for our date—for example, the grass surrounding Peace Park. Something interesting we found was that none of our houses were accessible. Even though public spaces seemed to be adequate, residential spaces appear to be lacking in accessibility in any form.