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-   -   Being an "able" person with someone in a chair (http://www.cruisereviews.com/forum/disabled-travel-forum/26246-being-able-person-someone-chair.html)

Oggy Boy 10-20-2003 07:58 PM

I just got back from cruising on Celebrity's Mercury for a week and had a wonderful woman that has recently taken up residence in a chair for reasons of injury. She is 82 and I have had her with our groups before. I took the responsibility to be her companion and driver for the cruise and had a most interesting experience.

I thought it might be rewarding to discuss what it means to be the abled body person in a relationship with someone in a chair, as I sense there are many lessons that would help someone on their first cruise or two with someone in a chair.

First, I was amazed at how insensitive folks can be. On one occasion, I had pushed the up-button for an elevator to take Pat (the person in the chair) up one floor to meet the rest of the group for dinner. The elevator opened and a swarm of people rushed into it before I could get Pat in. I thought it was so rude. I could tell lots of stories of similar situations, but I was shocked that folks in chairs are shown so little compassion.

The solution I chose in the elevator situation? Not being bashful, I simply backed Pat into the crowd on the elevator and had the front of her chair in a position to hold the door open until room was made to accommodate us. Then I joked with Pat about how we had to become more aggressive as it was clearly a battle between those in chairs against the rest of us…..I think everyone in the elevator was embarrassed, at least I hoped so.

So, what are the tricks in getting more respect? What has been your experience?

Tom

Oggy Boy 10-20-2003 07:58 PM

I just got back from cruising on Celebrity's Mercury for a week and had a wonderful woman that has recently taken up residence in a chair for reasons of injury. She is 82 and I have had her with our groups before. I took the responsibility to be her companion and driver for the cruise and had a most interesting experience.

I thought it might be rewarding to discuss what it means to be the abled body person in a relationship with someone in a chair, as I sense there are many lessons that would help someone on their first cruise or two with someone in a chair.

First, I was amazed at how insensitive folks can be. On one occasion, I had pushed the up-button for an elevator to take Pat (the person in the chair) up one floor to meet the rest of the group for dinner. The elevator opened and a swarm of people rushed into it before I could get Pat in. I thought it was so rude. I could tell lots of stories of similar situations, but I was shocked that folks in chairs are shown so little compassion.

The solution I chose in the elevator situation? Not being bashful, I simply backed Pat into the crowd on the elevator and had the front of her chair in a position to hold the door open until room was made to accommodate us. Then I joked with Pat about how we had to become more aggressive as it was clearly a battle between those in chairs against the rest of us…..I think everyone in the elevator was embarrassed, at least I hoped so.

So, what are the tricks in getting more respect? What has been your experience?

Tom

Connie*cgta 10-21-2003 08:24 AM

Ah, the dreaded elevators. We specialize in cruises for people who are wheelchair users and slow walkers. In addition to unthinking adults (which runs rampid on many lines), there are complaints of:

1) Kids. During summer and holiday vacations, there are a lot more kids and an even greater chance of kids playing with the elevators.

2) Elevators with buttons that are too high to be reached by a wheelchair user. (okay, thread deviation here because that's no applicable to the non-disabled companion)

3) Elevator doors which close too fast. (again, not a non-disabled companion problem) We've had instances where wheelchair users nearly lost their service dogs because the dog walked in ahead of the roller. Better to have the dog walk in next to him/her if possible and use the chair to block the door from shutting.


Connie

PEB 11-05-2003 01:16 PM

Tom you witnessed something that happens on many cruise ships and on land. I am fortunate that my wife is not in a chair yet, but will be at some point, however my wife is handicapped and gets around with a full length leg brace. We have seen the rudeness of people not only on the elevators but finding a seat in the shows or even trying to get onboard or into the dining room. I have even seen people try to take the seat right out from under my wife when she goes to release her leg brace to sit down, which also happened to be on the Mercury.

On one cruise a lady actually grabbed my wife and yanked her backwards, almost causing her to fall, to try and get on the elevator first. This lady found out I do not tolerate that and I removed her from the elevator and let my wife enter. She and her husband did not argue with me because I am a little intimidating in size and looks LOL.

Unfortunately there are some people that still believe they are more important than everyone else and that they have the right to be first. I am glad this is not the majority but their behavior does stand out.

I was raised in a family that had people severly handicapped due to polio so in my case I learned at a young age to be patient and tolerant of rude people, however it is frustrating to see how people ignore the handicapped.

07-04-2004 01:56 PM

I wear leg braces and though I do not use a wheel chair all the time, I do need one if we're some place where a lot of walking is involved. I'm amazed at how you become "invisible" when you're in a wheelchair! We went to Sea World last year and my friend actually had to act like an Ocean "Ice Breaker" and walk ahead of me so I didn't run into the people that kept cutting me off in front of my ECV. It was amazing. I can understand kids doing it but it was grown adults. My friend would say "Excuse me" so people would know we were there and she actually got into an altercation with one woman that mouthed off to her when she said something about her standing right in front of me during a show---just like I wasn't there!!!.

Dyxiegirl 07-06-2004 11:08 AM

I am neither disabled nor assist someone with a disability; however, I am an architect and specialize in ADA compliance, and would like to comment on the architectural problems that you encounter, especially in US cities. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1991, and since then, extensive changes have occured in the US. Any new or renovated building had to be brought up to the code. This code includes the speed at which elevators close, the height of the call buttons and the operating buttons, the size of the elevators, as well as things like the reach heights of the towel dispensers in the restrooms. I would think that the newer ships would be more accessible than older ones. I would also guess that ships with US interests would be more aware of accessible issues. Europe and Canada are oblivious to any kind of accessibility codes, or considerations. It is up to the cruise line to insist on the design. For legal ramifications, a person can report a violation to the Dept of Justice. About the only way something will get done is if you sue someone. In Texas, it is much easier: we have ADA police! You just have to make a report (on-line) and it gets investigated and SERIOUS fines are imposed.
On a positive note, the ADA guidelines are being updated, as of the end of this month, and will become even more stringent, with new requirements for multi-housing, among many changes.
If anyone has an ADA question, I would be happy to answer it for them, if I can.

Suzi 07-11-2004 03:07 PM

Thanks for your information. On ocassion I travel with my mother, who is in a wheel chair, and I find that for the most part people are very helpful and in the lastfew years travel opportunities have continued to be more positive for her. Since she has been in a wheel chair for 20 years I have noticed tremendous growth in the US for accessibility to activities and places. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about our last visit to Europe.
Suzi

Oggy Boy 07-11-2004 08:19 PM

Suzi, boy do I know what you mean. We were in Dubrovnik on Celebrity's Millennium a few weeks ago and the ticket seller claimed that the wall around Dubrovnik was "chair friendly". Pat (an 83 year old, mostly chair bound, wonderful lady) made it up the stairs to the top of the wall. We were all teasing when she took the last step that it would be her last.

Once on the wall, guess what? It was about as unfriendly as you could imagine. I managed to get Pat back down the stairs and into a bar for a cold beer.

Unfortunately, Europe is lightyears behind the U.S..

Tom

Suzi 07-13-2004 05:23 AM

Tom,
I sure can empathize - That must have been some trek, and I thought Rome was bad. Obviously difficulty getting around the ruins was understandable, but the biggest surprise was the hotels. I just assumed hotels would have elevators - WRONG! You sure are right, Europe is light years behind. I am planning to go to Venice later this year, from what I've read, glad my Mom isn't making that trip!
Suzi

Oggy Boy 07-13-2004 06:32 AM

Venice would be impossible with someone in a chair. Every canal has a steep staired bridge over it and there is no ramps to be found anywhere.

Tom


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