By, Lydia Sarver, John Saltzman & Matt Vereen
For our "accessible date" we thought it would be an interesting learning experience to try places we would normally go to. If those places were inaccessible, we would have to improv on the fly to find a new possibility. For this project, we were meant to find 1) a meal 2) some kind of entertainment, and 3) plans for some privacy. In the end, all three of our locations were within just a block of each other making for easy commute between locations. That said, it was one of the few bright spots of an otherwise inaccessible "accessible date." We start with food...
THE MEAL - "BIG XII"Experiencing daily life through the lens of disability was an
eye-opening thing to do. Living in a world that is designed specifically against you as a person is something that I did not realize would be as taxing mentally as it was. Once we got to “Big 12” we were excited to find a ramp leading up to one of the front doors but the excitement ended there. There was absolutely no accessibility anywhere in the restaurant. Most of the tables were high tops or bar seating so we had to wait for a table that was the proper height. The angles in and around the dining area were almost impossible to move through but the worst was the bathrooms.
There are 2 girls and 2 guys bathrooms in the place.
The girls and guys bathrooms that have multiple stalls are both a staircase away from access, the guys downstairs and the girls upstairs. The other bathrooms are single stall and always have huge lines because of it so it was nearly impossible to use the bathroom. Not off to a great start on the date because of the bad design at “Big 12.” Once we went to Silver Ball and then were ready for our private time we attempted to go to my apartment but of course it ended up being impossible. The design at my apartment complex is heinous. There are stairs followed by a very tight corner just to get into the front door and that is the only entrance. Then if we managed to get inside there are 4 bedrooms, 2 upstairs and 2 downstairs. I am in the basement and it would be impossible to make it down to my room so my apartment was off the table.
ENTERTAINMENT - "SILVERBALL"
We chose Silverball as our entertainment part of our date as it is a new spot in downtown Columbia. The walk from Big 12 to Silverball was quick and the sidewalks were relatively even.
This bar and arcade, or as it is cleverly called “barcade”, has an easily accessible entrance that is all one level and the entryway is incredibly wide, but that is about where the accessibility stops when it comes to Silverball. The barcade is not one level, a majority of the games that you see upon walking in are on a platform that would involve stepping up to get on. All the pinball machines are upstairs, and the only way up is to use the giant staircase in the middle of the building. The games that can be accessed are limited to about a variety of 4 in the back, and one of them is Dance Dance Revolution. If you and your date wanted to sit somewhere, well good luck, the bar has all high stools and the one sitting area was up on a platform only accessible by stairs.
The bathrooms were hidden off in the back, one could easily of mistook them for just not being there as the doors were decorated with odd murals of muscular men and women, and did
PRIVACY - "PEACE PARK"
The irony of seeking privacy in a public park was not lost on us. The idea of returning to one of our apartments was not an option. All three were completely inaccessible. Though each apartment complex offered disabled living spaces, they were separate from the other housing meaning none of us lived in accessible buildings.
This brought up an interesting point about housing access. We all live off campus because it is cheaper. Living off campus would come with far more inconveniences for someone who is disabled due to needing to get to campus or downtown. This makes downtown living far more appealing, but it is also exponentially more expensive. For those who are disabled, Columbia seems to offer no perfect housing solution: either be rich or deal with the problems.
Because of this, we were forced to settle with the park. While it limits what "activities" you could partake in, it is a nice location to have a quiet and relatively private conversation.
The paths were relatively flat and most utilize slopes over stairs.
That said, it had it's flaws. The only bench that was accessible without leaving the path is shown in the top photo. It is right next to the main sidewalk and offers no privacy from the occasional passerby.
In the park's defense, however, we had never noticed how flat it is.
Most parks include various hills and rocks. Peace Park would be possible
for someone in a wheelchair to navigate off-path. It wouldn't be easy, though.
In the end, we did experience something very unique yet frustrating. It is impossibly hard to know just how hard it is to live in a world literally not designed for you. There are many places that have become much more accessible and better for everyone but there is clearly a long way to go. The mental stress of trying to work around a world that wasn’t trying to work for everyone was a very difficult thing to do. Hopefully sooner rather than later, most places are accessible to all and it won’t be such a struggle to enjoy the same things that others do.