Posts Tagged ‘accessibility issues’

On Tuesday, I headed over by the casino to meet one of the organizers of the casino sound & light festival to discuss improving wheelchair accessibility.

The ride there was interesting.

The para transpo driver had no idea where I was going, and it had been two years since I had been there. For some odd reason, he kept asking me for directions on how to get there.
There’s a few reasons why that’s a horrible idea.

1. I don’t drive.
2. I assume most disabled People don’t go to home renovation stores often, so I had no idea where to turn off, or what streets to take. (I was going to Reno Depot, which is the french version of Home Depot.)
3. My direction skills are HORRIBLE. I’m not kidding either. I once got lost when I came out another Door of my wife’s workplace.

After about 45 minutes of trying to read french road signs, and asking 3 random car drivers on the road, we discovered that we were in the opposite end of Gatineau. I somehow still managed to make the Meeting semi on time.

Our meeting went well. I was given a very thoroughed tour of the site. As it turned out, the main reason, I had so much trouble 2 years ago is because my wife and I had general admission tickets instead of reserved seating. If you buy tickets for the reserved seating section, you can sit on a platform, which is directly in front of the fireworks.

The view there was absolutely beautiful, and it seems like it’d be incredible at night.
One of my beefs is that I’d have to pay extra for my attendant, which is extremely stupid, plus expensive. So, I will be writing a letter to the festival president to see if they’ll drop that policy.

When I was a kid, a roommate (at the hospital) went on TV to discuss how unfair it was that we had to pay for our personal care attendants if we wanted to see a movie. It turned out that our complaining made life easier for us, and other severely disabled people.

After that, it was up to the theatres on whether or not to let them in for free. Nowadays, for the past few Years, we’ve been issued an “Access 2 Entertainment” card. Whenever I go see a movie or a special event (like wrestling) at the movie theatre, I show them the card, and just pay for myself. The next step is trying to convince concert/sports venues to do the same. I’ve been discussing it with different places for many years now, and it’s a never ending battle.

Speaking of movies, on Tuesday night, I checked out The Other Guys, starring Mark Wahlberg & Will Ferrell.

For those who don’t know, Mark & Will work for the Police Force, but not as Cops.
Will’s an Accountant, and Mark was relieved of his cop job after shooting Derek Jeter.
The two of them team up to try to solve a crime in the hopes that they can earn a cop job.

This movie pokes fun of other cop movies, especially buddy cops movies.
The duo of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg came off very well, and extremely funny, and it also helped that Eve Mendes was in it too. She played Will’s wife, and Mark’s absolutely stunned that she’s married to Will.

To me, Will Ferrell is a hot/cold type of actor.
On the hot side, he’s been in such great movies as, A Night At The Roxbury, Old School, Anchorman, Elf, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and Blades Of Glory.
On the cold side, he’s been in movies like Bewitched, Semi Pro, Stranger Than Fiction, and Land Of The Lost.

To me, The Other Guys, is one of his better movies.

As far as the rating, well, I give it a solid joysticks up. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a Will Ferrell fan.

The rest of my week was spent trying to fix the weekend schedule for my attendants. For the longest time, I’d be without anyone for 32 hours, which is very bad considering I require 24/7 care.
Luckily, I managed to convince people to work, including a brand new attendant, and 2 that no longer work here regularly.
All that matters is that everything worked out, and I’m proud of myself.

As for my weekend plans, Saturday’s gonna be a busy day.
My sister and nephew are in town.

Saturday morning will be spent with my family visiting my Grandmother. My Grandma will be having major surgery next Wednesday, so we’re all gonna visit her at the nursing home.

After that, my sister and I will be heading to a Tattoo Shop to get tattoos. My wife’s coming too, but not getting one done. I hope to shoot some video footage of me getting my tattoo done.

After that, we’re all heading to East Side Mario’s for a family dinner. It’s very rare that we’re all able to be together, so this will be a special occasion, and I’m really looking forward to it.

As for Sunday, I’ll probably sleep and relax after a long day.

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Hello Music Fans!
I’m going to discuss the first two days of Ottawa Bluesfest.

Day 1

The first day kicked off with Dream Theater. I had never heard of these guys before, but they were pretty good. Apparently, they’re Progressive Rock. I’m not really sure what that really means. To me, it was Heavy Metal/Rock. Either way, they were great.

I watched Dream Theater from the newly installed Platform by the Main (MBNA) Stage. The view’s from there is a vast improvement than without it.

From there, I headed to the Subway Stage to check out Ana Popovic. This girl was great, and knew how to play the Guitar. By the time I got there though, her set was almost over.

After that, I saw Loudlove, a local Rock Band. They were straight up Rock, and were very good. At one point, they brought up a Kid from the Audience to experience what it was like on a big Stage performing in front of a large crowd. The kid seemed nervous, and didn’t really do much.
If I was up there, I’d be dancing, yelling stuff, and soaking in the Crowd as they cheered and chanted my name.

But that’s just me.

After that, I met up with my Wife in the War Museum. I wanted to look at Bluesfest T-Shirts, but they didn’t have any good ones this year. We ended up buying more Love Beads. The money goes to “Blues In The Schools”, which is an Organization that educates Kids about Music.

By this time, Iron Maiden was on Stage, so we made our way through the Crowd, out the Gates, and back into the site through the VIP Entrance.
Driving a 500+ lbs Powered Wheelchair isn’t easy in general, but toss in about 10,000 (mostly drunk and/or high) Iron Maiden fans, and it becomes quite a challenge.

We made it to the Platform, and caught some of it. It was pretty good, but I don’t really know their stuff that well. We left early to avoid the Crowd.

On our way out, we wanted to give someone our Tickets for the last part of the show. We searched the Crowd, and came across three young guys. My Wife gave two of them our Tickets. The third guy quickly got ditched by his friends. He made a face like the Kid from Home Alone after he put After-Shave on. It was hilarious!
I felt bad for him though.

Day 2

The second day started off by me arriving early. This was the day that I’d be interviewed regarding my role in Bluesfest becoming more Wheelchair Accessible.
I’ll get to that in a moment though.

Earlier in the day, my Wife informed me that they give away free passes to the Comedy Shows most nights. So, my first stop was getting the free passes for “The Relationship Show”.

After I got the passes, it was time for my Interview. There was no Camera, just Alan Isfan & I talking as he recorded it by Audio to type up later. He asked about how Bluesfest has improved, what else needs to happen to make it more Accessible etc. I also mentioned that I’d like to do this for other Festivals eventually.
During the Interview, Mike dropped by to say a few things as well. Mike is the guy that I deal with every year about Accessibility. He explained how he likes my ideas, and supports it. Also pointed out some of the obstacles that Bluesfest faces each year.

After we wrapped up, Alan mentioned he’d plug this Website.
So to all of you coming here for the first time, I thank you & welcome you.

For those wondering what I look like, well, I drive a HUGE black powered Wheelchair. From the front, I wear a Mic near my mouth to amplify my voice. From the back, I have a Backpack on the back of my Chair.
If you see me at Bluesfest, come say hi or something. I love meeting people, especially if they read my Blog. Don’t be shy, say hi to Ry. 🙂

The Interview SHOULD be up on the Bluesfest Website sometime on Thursday.

So let’s talk about who I saw on day 2.

I started off by seeing Silver Creek. They’re another local Rock Band. They weren’t bad, but not great.

From there, I headed to see The Gipsy Kings. I only had time to catch a few songs before the next show started. They were good though.

I headed over to the NEW Blacksheep Comedy & Music Tent to catch “The Relationship Show”. It was hosted by John Heffron, with performances by Finesse Mitchell, Maryellen Cooper, and Jim Breuer. This was my first time seeing LIVE Comedy in ages, due to Ottawa not having any more Wheelchair Accessible Comedy Venues. Anyways, Jim stole the show with his thoughts on Petting Zoos, Iron Maiden, how he came up with the “Goat boy” Character on Saturday Night Live, & being a Dad.

The Tent is fully Accessible with TONS of space. The Wheelchair Section is to the left of the Stage, and provides a nice clear view of the Stage.

Quick FYI for new people:
I used to perform Comedy regularly at Yuk Yuk’s until they moved to Elgin Street. The new location is not Wheelchair Accessible. Because of this, I’m only able to perform 1 or 2 shows a year now, either at Algonquin College and/or Carleton University.

Anyways, after the show, we hung out in The War Museum before the next show.

Our last show on day 2 was Grupo Fantasma. I saw them last year, and they’re awesome!
They’re a Latin Band from Austin, Texas. They definitely know how to make people dance.

We got to meet them afterwards. We chatted with them, took pictures with them, and they gave me Drumsticks from the show, & their setlist.

That was the end of day 2 for us.

We won’t be at day 3 of Bluesfest because we’ll be at my friend’s play that I wrote about the other day.

I hope you people enjoy the interview once it’s posted on the Bluesfest Site.
Like I said, if you see me, PLEASE come talk to me, or at least say hi.

I may seem unapproachable, but really I am. I love meeting people, so come on over.

I’ll be back at Bluesfest on Friday for Louis CK, and a few other acts that night.

Rock on!

First of all, I apologize for not posting for a few days.
It’s been really hot, and when it gets like that, all I want to do is as little as possible.
Like most people, I can only do that for so long.

As most of you know, this past Weekend, was a long Weekend.
My Wife and I spent most of it at the Grand Reopening of the Museum Of Nature.
We spent almost Seven hours there on Saturday, which was utterly insane.

The place was PACKED, and most of our time was spent waiting in lineups to get in, and to even use the Elevators.

While I was there, we paid close attention to Wheelchair Accessibility.

For the most part, it’s not too bad.

Here are my thoughts:

Negatives:

1. One thing we noticed right away was there’s no Wheelchair Access to the outside sitting area/patio/outlook place. The only way for a Wheelchair to get up there is by going through the Museum, and taking the Elevator. Meanwhile, able bodied people can just walk up a few steps. I’m not even sure if they need to pay, but we would need to, just because we need to enter the Building in order to get there.

2. I noticed that many of the Doors to the Exhibit Areas don’t have a button to open the doors. To me, this is a really sad oversight on their part. By not having a Button, most of us are unable to open the doors, and will have to wait for someone to help.

3. Most of the signs in the Exhibits are readable, but some are really hard to get to, due to their location. Disabled people often need to get close to be able to read them, and sometimes it’s not possible. I also suggest that using large print signs for the visually impaired would go a long way. Also, some of the signs are way too low for some of us to read. Personally speaking, I can’t bend down or over to read them, and I imagine not a lot of other Disabled people can either.

4. The Gift Shop is pretty small. I realize that it was packed on the Weekend, but I had a really hard time turning the corners in there. It had nothing to do with people being in the way. The tables for the items on display are simply too close to the shelves. A few extra inches at both ends of the Store would greatly improve the problem.

The positives:

1. The Elevators are HUGE, which is great.

2. It’s great to know that Personal Care Attendants are free. There needs to be more places in Ottawa, besides Museums that offer this. I should also point out that the Museum is free for everyone every Thursday from 5 PM to 8 PM. It’s $10 for Adults any other times.

3. For the most part, Bathrooms are a good size. Some are bigger than others, but that’s pretty much the case anywhere in Ottawa.

4. The small Elevator to get into the Lobby is a lot nicer, and feels much safer than the old one. I remember riding the old one when I was a Kid, and it would often shake and rattle while it was moving.

5. The Lighting is MUCH better in the Museum now, and it doesn’t feel creepy anymore. I can actually see certain displays a lot easier now.

6. The new HD Theatre is fully accessible, complete with spots for People in Wheelchairs, and their Attendant/Friend etc can sit beside them as well.

So there ya go, folks.
That’s what I think of the newly revamped Museum Of Nature in Ottawa.
I’ll be sending a slightly modified version of this post to the Museum.

I plan on returning there sometime this Summer.

Stay cool!

Last night was pretty interesting.

We went to see Salman Rushdie talk about his views on the World and Religion.

We arrived around 7:30 and the thing started just after 8.

We had tickets for reserved seating, which was worth $75 and near the front. There was no way for me to get there due to stairs. They covered their ass by offering my Wife a chair by the stairs instead. The chair was broken, so we had to get another.

I don’t care if we won the $75 tickets. They don’t know if we paid for them or not. They could’ve at least been a little more respectful, but that’s my opinion.

Much to my surprised (not really) there was no wheelchair accessible bathroom. Not that I’m a drinker anymore, but a glass of Wine would’ve been really good. Over two hours later, I was really glad that I didn’t drink because I really had to pee.

This is just my opinion, but if the festival wants to spend all that money to import a tent from Belgium, they may wanna see if disabled people can enjoy it as much as anyone else.

I guess they don’t expect disabled people to afford $75 or want to have some fun under the big top.

We’re poor crippled folks, ya know?

It’s good to see that the “Rosa Parks — back of the bus” mentality has become “disabled person — back of the room” mentality.

I even would’ve had a hard time meeting him because the meet and greet on stage. I’m sure he would’ve came to us, but it was late anyways. Apparently, he was staring at me for awhile before he went on stage. It could’ve been interesting if we had met.

Tonight, I’m going to Rehab to play Boccia. The Regional Tournament is this Saturday from 9-4. I’m kinda nervous/anxious, but hopefully it’ll go well.