How “Not Cargo” became Roll a Mile

I basically got into the accessibility business out of necessity. First-hand experiences during a decade spent as caregiver to a spouse with a disability, followed by a decade as a person with a disability, often left me frustrated with inaccessibility and the numerous barriers ‘out there’. I also came to quickly realize that most of these barriers were simply a result of people not being aware. Awareness, understanding and adaptability go a long way towards accommodation and accessibility for all.

The turning point came during a two-week vacation to Vancouver to visit with my brother and his wife over Christmas 2006. The legislative process surrounding the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, related Bills and accessibility standard development, was underway, and my brother and I spent much of the visit discussing barriers to access and accessibility issues.

Waiting for a return flight home from Vancouver with my mother and son, the airline announced Pre-boarding (it is much easier to board and manouvre without too many others around). Immediately one of the flight-attendants walked over, grabbed the back of my wheelchair and began pushing me towards the gate. She didn’t say a word. She just walked over and began pushing me away from my elderly mother and minor son. Imagine for a moment, if you were standing waiting to board an airplane and someone came over and just began pushing you… that would probably never happen, and if it did, could be considered assault. You can’t just walk up to a person, lay your hands on them and begin pushing them. But the flight-attendant didn’t see me as a person, she simply saw the chair, as if I was simply cargo. I politely explained I would prefer to wheel myself and needed my companions with me and she went back to the gate to assist someone who both wanted and required it. It was the realization that she hadn’t done this out of malice, but simply a lack of awareness and understanding. Somehow, I had to make the world a little more aware.

I wrote the business concept for Roll a Mile on the flight home.

In keeping with this dedication to promoting an awareness of issues surrounding disability and accessibility compliance and training, I hope to blog about issues related to disabilities and all things accessible.

Accessibility – One Revolution at a Time