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Sadie's Make Up Post for Missed Class!

cds6's picture

Hi everyone! I am doing a make-up post for a class I missed near the end of April for my dad’s birthday. And I wanted to share some thoughts (some deep, some more trivial) about the place we had dinner to celebrate my dad’s birthday. 

Ever since taking this class, I am constantly keeping my eye out for things that make a space accessible or completely inaccessible. It is part of the reason I wanted to take this class as I tore my ACL and had some A-HA moments where I realized how inaccessible Haverford’s campus truly is. A building’s design and lack of accessibility is something that has continued to be something I take notice of that I never really had the eye to do before. I realized people don’t really think twice about inaccessible spaces when you aren’t experiencing the trouble it gives you when you need the grace, accessible space, and thought when you so desperately need it. I hope to continue having the "eye" for inaccessible spaces and have the courage and words to be able to articulate what needs to be done to address the inaccessiblities to make it more inclusive for everyone, 

So, we went to an Italian restaurant for his birthday and the first thing I noticed was that there weren't any designated handicap spots. Which was especially troubling considering that the entire driveway/walkway to the restaurant entrance was gravel or large rocks. My grandma had a very difficult time getting from the car to the steps up to the restaurant. It would be a very hard time for someone on crutches, in a wheelchair, or using a walker to be able to quickly and safely get from the car to the restaurant. Not a great start. 

Once finally in the restaurant, it was very dim. I guess one can argue it was for the ambiance of the restaurant, but it was a little difficult to see if there was a step or unexpected object in my foot’s way. The dim lights increase risk of falling, but also could make it hard for an ASL signer to communicate with anyone, reminding me of Gallaudet University and their efforts to better align their building design/architecture with DeafSpace. In addition, I could feel my eyes straining to make out the details of the people talking to me and even reading the menu with its tiny print. The building must have been older as well since the entryway was a bit narrow, not amenable for a wheelchair. The narrow hallways also make it difficult for signers to see each other’s hands in conversation. Building design wise, I was certainly not impressed. 

One upside to the restaurant was that once through the narrow entryway, the room opened up quite a bit. The tables and chairs were not packed into the place, making it easier to walk by tables and pass other people comfortably. In addition, I think during the day time that room may have been better lit with natural light coming through the windows which they had. 

So despite the food being amazing and being able to celebrate my dad’s birthday, I give the restaurant’s accessibility features a 1/10. I would highly recommend the restaurant to address these obstacles to accessibility in their building, however, I believe they would claim it would get rid of the tradition/authenticity of the building. I feel this tension often when it comes to renovating old buildings and having conversations about getting rid of inaccessible, old features to a building. It is a tough conversation, but I find it hard to empathize with a side who is basically arguing about the aesthetics of a building. I do not think a building’s history or outward appearance is enough to justify inaccessible entrances or aspects of a building. 



Cecilia Morales's picture

I think its really cool how this class has shaped your perception of viewing spaces through the lens of accessibility in your daily life! It's disheartening to see just how many establishments are still inaccessible today in age. This prevents a lot of different kinds of disbaled people from accessing social spaces. Even something as simple as a ramp at the front entrance can help people with many types of disabilities. Most times people usually conceptualize ramps as a tool that is only meant to benefit people with mobility aids (i.e. wheelchairs), but they can also be beneficial for people with invisible disabilities like chronic fatigue syndrome, mental health conditons, etc. And I'm sure your grandmother would have benefited greatly from an accessible ramp too. Moreover, I think making a space technically accessible is not sufficient enough, we also have to think about how these accessibility tools impact its users. For example, a place can technically be accessible via a back entrance where there is already a ramp in place used to transport shipments inside the the establishment. However, not only is it socially isolating and humiliating having to go through the back entrance every time, but the "accessible ramp" was not even designed with disabled people in mind. Its important for disabled people to have a space that is not only accessible, but designed with them specifically in mind.