By: Paige Neary & Alisha Price
We began our accessibility date project with open minds and optimistic hearts. Our hope was that the old college town we had come to love so much wouldn’t let us down in regards to accessibility. Our goal was to have as much fun as possible and put Columbia to the test. To get started, we assumed our date would either live downtown or close to campus with easy access to be able to meet us at our dining location. We chose Midici, the hot new pizza place located on the corner of Broadway and 10th street.
The first thing we noticed as we arrived at the Neapolitan Pizza Company, was the wide sidewalks in front of and adjacent to the entrance. Had one of us arrived early, there would be plenty of space to wait outside. Once we entered the restaurant, aside from the incredibly pleasing aesthetic, it was obvious that it was meant to be accessible. After speaking to the manager, and a couple different employees we were informed that they met all ADA requirements when constructing their facility. After spending some time there, we quickly realized that they had exceeded the requirements and it would be a comfortable visit for all patrons with disabilities.
Spaces designated for ordering, paying for the food, and waiting to pick up were all spacious with large amounts of room to spread out.
As we migrated into the bathrooms to check out their quality, we noticed a few things. The hallways to the rooms were relatively narrow due to a small table, but for the most part open. The bathrooms were also not gender neutral and could be an issue for trans customers. The sinks were very easily accessible since they were open underneath and would be very easy to roll up to. The biggest issue we had with the bathroom was that it was abnormally dark. If someone were to have a sight impairment, using the restroom could be a challenge. Overall, we were very pleased with the accommodations Midici had to offer.
After our bellies were full, we headed to the Rose Music Hall for a little bit of entertainment. Unfortunately, our venture to the concert hall was filled with obstacles. There were pot holes and large cracks galore! This was the biggest struggle we found during our outing, was poor maintenance of pedestrian sidewalks and crossings. On top of this, there was a sharp incline that wheelchair users could have found difficult.
After our concert, we were still craving something a little sweet, so we made our way Sparky’s ice cream. We took the same route down 10th street- which you could really say “up” 10th street due to the sharp incline- from Rose Music Hall to Midici, then on to Sparky’s on 9th street. Once we hit Broadway and got on 9th, it was all downhill from there. Literally. Not in reference to the date-ha! Along with the changes in incline and decline, there were also quite a few cracks and bumps in the sidewalk on the way to Sparky’s.
When we got to Sparky’s, I noticed the doorway was pretty easily accessible, with no real change in smoothness or bumps as you go in. It was, however, slightly narrow, but the floors we very smooth. Surprisingly, space was limited, with a few low and accessible tables to sit at or roll up to. The ice cream was easy to see through a low glass barrier, and we both ordered a piña colada flavor. Was it the mocktail or cocktail version? I’ll leave that up to your imagination.
When accessing the bathroom, the hallway to it was made quite narrow by paintings lining the wall on the floor. There was only one bathroom, so technically it was gender neutral. Support bars on the wall made for easy access to the toilet, but the sink was slightly high as well the mirror, which was annoyingly small.
After our sweet treat, we could feel a nice chemistry that had built up throughout the course of the date, so we decided to head to Peace Park for a little ~alone time~. Of course on the way we encountered a few bumps and cracks going down 9th street, followed by a sharp decline on Locust. Luckily, the temperature was perfectly comfortable and the street very easily flowed to sidewalk on the left entrance of Peace Park.
Once we entered Peace Park, the path declined pretty sharply. There were benches scattered throughout the park, but many weren’t accessible because they were off the path out in the bumpy grass. Eventually we found a bench -the only bench- connected to the concrete path, so we could easily sit down and talk. We joked about the performer at Rose Music Hall and sparks were definitely flying as we got to know each other even better. The only little hiccup was that anyone making their way down the path would have to go around our date’s chair due to the fact that that the bench was right at the path with no surrounding room. The private time at the park was the perfect way to end the night and spend some quiet time connecting on a deeper level. Overall, our date was a success and we’re crossing our fingers for a second one.