Monday, April 10, 2017

Bailey, Emilee, Larissa: Is Como Accessible??

We decided to start the date by meeting at Seoul Taco in downtown. From our memories, we remembered it to have wide spaces between tables and a nice, large space. Plus, Seoul Taco is a great bang for your buck.
The route we took from Brookside Downtown led us up to the Hitt Street entrance, where there were no problems to get in. However, as we turned the corner, we noticed the Broadway entrance (the main entrance)  had a few larger steps leading up to the door – which was built into an awkward angle into the building – which would make it difficult for a wheelchair user to easily get in.
Once inside, Seoul greeted us with wide open spaces and hallways, but another couple of steps were right in front of where one would order food. I asked a worker if they knew if they had any sort of braille menus, and they didn’t. However, the soda fountains were on a countertop at the same height as the tables around it.
Around the corner, we found more doors leading out to a patio area right next to Gunter Hans. We were pleased to find a steady ramp leading up to these doors, which would bypass both sets of stairs for a wheelchair user. This entrance however, was hidden and I would have never found it if I didn’t know it was there.
Their only bathrooms were labeled for men and women. Each bathroom had two stalls; one large enough for a wheelchair user and each sported grab bars. However, it should be noted that they were gendered. The counters were fairly low, and the soap and paper towels were close to where the user would be standing or sitting.
In all, Seoul Taco seemed to be accommodating in the openness of the space, but lacked in a lot of other aspects. The bathrooms were gendered, there were steps barring almost every path to the food line, and the only entrance to bypass these steps was tucked away in an alleyway and hidden by an iron gate. Not to mention, they did not have any accommodations (that those workers knew of) for someone who may have a visual impairment.

For entertainment, we chose to watch a movie at Ragtag Cinema. Ragtag is located across the street from the restaurant we chose for dinner, Seoul Taco. It was important to us that the three locations we went to for our date were in close proximity. My date and I are movie buffs so we wanted to make sure that we arrived at Ragtag in time to see film trailers trailers and find good seats.  
The theater is accessible for a date with a person with a disability in a variety of ways. During visits to Ragtag on other occasions, we’ve seen staff be willing to help make the film experience and environment accessible to and comfortable for individuals with disabilities. Employees at the theater said that to accommodate people with disabilities, staff will move free-standing chairs to make space for a wheelchair user to navigate the theater and find a seat or place to move their wheelchair.  Staff sometimes need to ask other movie-goers to adjust their seating if they do not elect to move themselves. Based on our conversations and personal experience at Ragtag, responsibility is placed on the business, staff and other viewers to accommodate people with disabilities. It seems that Ragtag aims to avoid adding to accessibility limits.
Ragtag also offers hearing-assist devices for people who are hard of hearing or have partial to total hearing loss. The devices, made up of a radio and headset, transmit at a different audio frequency. There is visible, well-placed signage in the theater communicating that the devices are available.
In terms of the building space itself, the theater has two accessible gender-neutral bathrooms with door handles at an appropriate height. These are located inside the theater area. These bathrooms have grab bars to carry body weight, a low countertop, soap and paper towels in close reach and an approximately three-foot-tall trash can in a corner. Bathroom countertops seemed to be placed at an appropriate height. We tested the height by standing next to the counter to compare to height of our hips. There are two large doorways that open out to Hitt Street. To access the theaters, there is a mostly clear aisle through seating and tables that can accommodate a wheelchair user. To enter the theaters, there is a large entryway that is closed with a heavy black curtain which hangs almost to the floor. The curtain may prevent easy movement and balance. Floors in the building are flat and level and are made of hardwood, carpet and concrete.
While Ragtag is a business that has prioritized some ways to accommodate people with disabilities, some areas are still lacking in accessibility. For example, it did not appear that Ragtag offers other forms of assistive devices for people who are legally blind or have low or limited vision. The bathrooms outside of the theater area are labeled for men and women. The women’s bathroom has two stalls that do not allow room for a wheelchair. The soap and sink dispenser are placed where it could be difficult for a wheelchair user to reach. The men’s bathroom is a single room with more space that could allow for a wheelchair, but again, these bathrooms are gendered.
The Big Theater in Ragtag has a flat, level carpeted entryway with rails but has large, wide steps leading into the back of the room and majority of the available seating. For a wheelchair user, the only option for accessible seating would be to sit at the sides of the screen or at the front of the room if larger couches were moved. The Willy Wilson Theater is smaller, has tight aisles and rows with only free-standing seating and larger couches so options for wheelchair users and people with other physical disabilities are limited to the left side of the room.

For the final component of our date, we chose to go back to the wheelchair user’s apartment at Brookside Downtown. We really hit it off during dinner and the movie, so we thought some private time was appropriate.
Upon arriving, we entered the building and went to the elevator. I noticed that there was an oddly placed trash can on the wall. It was elevated and there was about 2-3 feet between the bottom of the trash can and the floor. A wheelchair user would not be able to dispose of their trash in this container. The elevator was spacious, had braille on the floor numbers, and there was a ding when you arrived at your floor.
We went to the leasing office to see if we could ask about accessibility. Conveniently, there was a model room that we could look at so we were able to get a good idea of how someone living at Brookside would be accommodated. The walkways in the unit were plenty wide for a wheelchair user.
When we walked into the kitchen, we noticed a few positive and negative aspects of the setup. Fortunately, the counters were low enough for a wheelchair user to reach. If they wanted to move from their chair to a barstool, those were low enough as well. The walkway between the island and the stove was plenty wide. However, most of the cabinetry was too high for a wheelchair user to reach. The microwave was at the same height too which was problematic. It could be uncomfortable for a wheelchair user to ask their date to microwave something for them because they couldn’t reach it in their own home. Also, the refrigerator and freezer were on top of one another. It would be more accessible if they were side by side.  
If the couple decided to take their date to the bedroom, there were also positive and negative aspects in there. The bed was fairly low to the ground, so it would be relatively easy to access. The closet only had one rack to hang things and it was pretty high up. The shelving units in the closet would also be inaccessible for a wheelchair user. The counter in the bathroom was an appropriate height; however, there wasn’t much floor space for a wheelchair to maneuver. It seemed that in every location we went to, there were pros and cons in terms of accessibility.

During the date, we noticed common problems as we traveled from each location in downtown Columbia. Sidewalks had curb ramps at crosswalks and outside of parking lots, but broken pavement and debris created unlevel surfaces in the crosswalk and curb area. On Hitt Street, we noticed a decline slant in the sidewalk and general incline in the path from Elm Street to Broadway. The sidewalks on Hitt and Elm near Ragtag and on our way to the apartment had large cracks, broken pavement, and bumps and lips between sections of the sidewalk. This would make it difficult to safely move with a wheelchair, walker, cane, crutches and other devices for people with physical disabilities. Generally, sidewalks on the route were also narrow, so any obstacle (large construction site signs, parked bikes, benches or outdoor seating) makes it inaccessible for a wheelchair user to pass.  There was also construction blocking crosswalks on Locust Street that would prevent travel for people with disabilities. For people who are legally blind,  have low or limited vision or are hard of hearing or deaf, many crosswalks did not have audible or detectable warnings to communicate whether to stop or cross. Overall, we found the sidewalks in downtown to be inaccessible. Wheelchair users, as well as other people with disabilities, would have a hard time navigating narrow sidewalks that are cracked and uneven.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sheroes Crip the City

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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Just how accessible is Columbia?

Columbia's accessibility or lack there of?

By Melanie Barbour, Hannah Smith and Taylor Smith

We began our group date at Hannah’s apartment, Belvedere, on Hitt Street. Due to the age of the building, elevators and ramps were nonexistent. Even the stairs leading to the entrance of the building made this location impractical. The pictures below exemplify the inaccessibility issues we faced at Hannah’s apartment.

We then proceeded to walk a short distance from Hannah’s apartment to enjoy lunch at Uprise Bakery. As illustrated in the pictures below, this establishment provided sufficient accessibility features upon entrance. This included wide doorframes and multiple ramps. Once inside, there was adequate space to accommodate wheelchair users. The heights of the tables were conducive to an individual in a wheelchair, and the chairs could be moved, making this a suitable place to have lunch. However, the height of the bar was problematic. For the purpose of our date this was a nonissue but in the context of an evening date the highly elevated bar would be a concern. Upon further exploration, we found that the men’s bathroom was accessible, but the women’s bathroom was not. The fact that the women’s bathroom did not have a handicap stall was surprising. Despite the stalls being slightly bigger than average, it did not compensate for the lack of a stall specifically designed for wheelchair users. The design of the sink would also make hand washing challenging if not impossible due to the height. Additionally, the cabinets and soap dispenser were positioned in such a way that rendered them completely inaccessible.


After lunch we proceeded to walk to downtown Columbia in search of entertainment. This portion of our date proved to be more difficult than expected. The first establishment we tried to enter was Imago, an art gallery right around the corner from Uprise. However, we quickly realized this was not an option considering the only way to enter was up a set of stairs. Next we stopped at the Yellow Dog Bookshop. This bookstore initially seemed feasible. A long ramp provided an accessible entryway from sidewalk to the interior of the store. Yet once inside the Yellow Dog Bookshop, navigating through the very narrow aisles and around tight corners could pose a challenge to wheelchair users. Our third attempt to find entertainment in downtown Columbia was a success. Make Scents; located on Ninth Street was a suitable option for anyone in search of a date that is both accessible and fun. The entryway was flat and wide, allowing for an easy entrance.  The interior of the store was spacious.  The layout of Make Scents is very open with the exception of one aisle off to the right, which seemed somewhat narrow in comparison to the rest of the store.  At first glance, the counter seemed problematic due to the height. Then we noticed that the counter was open on both sides which would provide a wheelchair-using customer easy access to staff and scents without too much difficulty

Ideally we would have enjoyed private time at one of our houses. As stated earlier, this was unreasonable considering the lack of accessibility. The alternative we chose for the last portion of our date was Peace Park. This proved to be a lovely location due to the sense of privacy and accommodating characteristics. The specific aspects we most appreciated included: accessible sidewalks, curb cuts leading to the park, wide paths throughout the park, as well as a bridge and benches, which were both accessible.

In conclusion, the city of Columbia provides the basic necessities such as sidewalks with curb cuts and ramps in some locations. Overall, this city is somewhat lacking accessible venues for entertainment and food. However, with adequate planning and research beforehand, an accessible date is definitely attainable.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cripping CoMo

Caitlyn, Shane, and I headed out on our date with our imaginary crush who uses a wheelchair on a warm Saturday afternoon.  We decided stick to places downtown because we thought that it would make for less time traveling to get somewhere and more time for getting to know each other.  We chose Chipotle for dinner because of its popularity and somewhat affordable price.  For entertainment, we chose RagTag cinemas because of the types of films it plays and the proximity to Caitlyn’s apartment for a quick escape for some fun time afterwards.  Since we predicted things would go well, we decided on Caitlyn’s apartment, Beverly, for some private and physical time.  When arriving to Caitlyn’s apartment, we found out immediately that we would have to shift plans.  We rented a room at the Broadway Hotel after getting some drinks at the Rooftop Bar.  Like I said, things went really well.

Our first stop of the date was a dinner date at Chipolte. We thought that this would be a good first stop because it is not only delicious but also a central spot on campus. The door to the restaurant was easily accessible but we quickly realized some flaws in the layout of the Chipolte. Because the waiting line is pretty narrow, we observed that it would be almost impossible for two people in wheelchairs to chat while in line. Also, the counter to order is extremely high which would make it to difficult to order and communicate to the employee on what exactly you wanted to order.  The bathrooms fortunately were accessible and large enough to fit a wheelchair. They also had grab bars. The seating area in Chipotle was a bit cramped in certain areas and would be very difficult to navigate around in if someone was in a wheelchair. Overall, we had a good experience in Chipolte but it definitely wasn’t perfect.

After chowing down on some Chipotle, we headed towards RagTag Cinema for some entertainment.  On our way towards the theater, we were shocked at how awful the sidewalks were.  Many of the sidewalks were incredibly narrow and full of cracks and missing pieces.  After carefully heading down Hitt street, we finally made it to RagTag.  The door was definitely wide enough in regards to accessible standards, but the door was not automatic.  Once we were inside, there was plenty of room for our date to navigate.  All the of the majority of the chairs were movable in the dining area, except for the booths on the right side.  When going to purchase tickets, the counter was definitely low enough for somewhere using a wheelchair to have a conversation with and buy the ticket from the person.  We even noted that there was a sign that stated they provided hearing assistance devices for anyone who needed them.  Although this is offered, we have heard through the grapevine that the system doesn’t work too well.  We were still feeling a little snacky after dinner, so we headed towards the bar to grab some popcorn and a drink.  The space to get to the bar was too narrow for anyone using a wheelchair to even move towards the bar.  Even if our date got there, the bar was too high for a bartender to notice our date waiting.  We moved towards the theaters after grabbing our snack.  The first theatre seemed crammed, but it would not be impossible for someone using a wheelchair to navigate it.  The isles were tight and could not easily be utilized by someone using a wheelchair, so they would mostly likely have to sit at the end of the rows.  The second theatre was on accessible to someone using a wheelchair if they sat up in the front.  This limited our options for seating.  Couches were movable and in the front, but the auditorium seating in the back of the theatre could not be moved or adjusted.  The bathrooms outside of the theatres were accessible, single seaters that included handlebars.  The bathrooms in the dining area were less accessible.  The men’s restroom was a single seater that included handlebars, but the women’s restroom didn’t even have an accessible stall.  The restroom was cramped and hard to move around in.  We decided to check out the patio for seating also after the film.  The patio was the most accessible because the concrete was smooth and the tables and chairs were easily movable.  This made it possible for us to create our own comfortable space on a large patio.  Things were starting to heat up, so we made a move towards Caitlyn’s apartment, Beverly.


After Rag Tag, we decided to head to Beverly apartments for a more intimate place to hang out. This was a complete disaster. There was no accessible place to even enter the building making it completely impossible for a wheelchair to enter.  Because of this, we quickly changed our plans and decided to head the Roof.

In order to get to the roof from Beverly apartments we realized how awful the Columbia sidewalks were. There were several divots in the sidewalks which would make the sidewalks very unpleasant to roll on. Also, we had to take an extra long route just to get to the Roof because we had to pass the hotel in order to find a crosswalk that was accessible for a wheelchair.  We were pleasantly surprised by the roof and how wheelchair accessible it was. In total, the hotel has about 3-4 accessible rooms on each of the 7 floors. In order to enter the hotel, there were automatic doors as well as an elevator to get to each floor. Before going to the room, we decided to go to the actual “Roof” to grab a drink. There were many high tables as well as a high bar BUT there were plenty of other alternative options. Fortunately there were comfy chairs that could easily be rolled up next to as well as a beautiful view.  Overall, we were very happy with this venue because of how simple it would be to navigate around in a wheelchair.


Overall, we were surprised with how conscious people must be when planning a date with someone who uses a wheelchair.  A lot of this takes away from the spontaneity of dating culture.  This date made us think more critically.  Rather than limiting our analytical thought processes to doorways and ramps, we thought even more about the height of countertops, the size of bathrooms, and the ability to modify the space we were in.  Contrary to our original thoughts, downtown buildings, with the exception of Beverly apartments, were more accessible than we thought. There is always more to improve though.  


We started our little outing at Trey Bistro located in the District at 9th and Walnut. Once we arrived at the restaurant, we found that it was accessible for those who might utilize a mobility device. When planning this date, we decided to attempt to patronize those places on 9th so that traveling between venue’s would be minimal. Trey Bistro had tables, both inside and outside, that were of appropriate height for a wheelchair. Any chair could be moved in order to provide a comfortable dining experience. Though the furniture and restrooms were both accessible, there was little room to navigate the building. In order to reach the restrooms, one had to move down a narrow path between the bar area and seating. We determined that space was wide enough for one wheelchair, or other mobility assistance device including a walker or cane.

We wanted to make traveling to the separate venues of the evening as easy as possible. Due to that fact, our options for entertainment were kept within a couple blocks — thankfully Missouri Theatre has some phenomenal shows. The trek from Trey Bistro was uneventful save for Broadway being extremely congested with traffic. We found the sidewalks to be in disrepair and too narrow to accompany two people in either wheelchairs or other mobility assistance devices. We understand the city has only a certain amount of space with which to work as many of the buildings are historical and there must be space for cars to park downtown, we just wish they were in better condition.
Outside of the narrowness, half of the sidewalks were slanted in order to allow accessibility into the shops, however well-intentioned it still would interfere if two people in wheelchairs wanted to move next to one another.  
Once we flitted down to our entertainment venue of the night, the Missouri Theatre, we found the call window to be a bit high. Someone in a wheelchair could not have comfortably reached up and spoke with the attendant, nor did the Theatre have an accessible option inside. On the left hand side of the foyer there is a window to the ticket-booth that is at the same level, if not higher, than the one located outside. Accessible bathrooms can be found on the ground floor, located on the left side of the foyer when entering from 9th street. The route to the floor was a bit cantankerous, but not impossible. The venue has spacious rooms and plenty of room to navigate, save the aisles in the theatre itself.  
After leaving the Missouri Theatre we traveled the two blocks back north to Top 10 Wines. The sidewalks were similarly in disrepair, narrow, and at odd angles. There were no lips or curbs that would make traveling in a wheelchair impossible.

Top 10 Wines is unaccessible for any individual in a wheelchair or mobility assistance device. The tables were spaced too close be maneuvered around, and there were cases of wine everywhere. It might be possible to remove the chairs at the table to allow for wheelchair space, but again, the tables were much too close together for anyone to feel or sit comfortably if the bar was at full capacity  The bar was placed much too high for anyone in a wheelchair to reach as well. The bathrooms were accessible, with a bar in them, but it would be incredibly difficult for anyone with limited mobility to get all the way to the back of the restaurant to use them.
We encountered the same troubles with the sidewalks on our trip to find some alone time. The apartment was accessible from the sidewalk, as it was located on the first floor, down in an alley located near Broadway and 9th across from Alley A.

The apartment we chose to end our evening at was located just off 9th street. It was a first floor apartment. The door was not automatic, but included mechanisms to make it extremely light when opening and closing. There was plenty of privacy and space for a couple to get to know each other on a deeper level. The biggest issue we encountered was there were no windows in this particular space, so if a fire occurred it would be very difficult to escape to safety, which we might add should probably told to city officials.