Could the barriers to accessibility be removed by removing the mental barriers we create? Maybe flipping the script on disability and reasonable accommodations can lead to greater understanding.
Transcript for Featured Video: Accessibility Island, Episode 1..
[[Animated film set in a town on a remote island. Opening shot is of clouds opening up into a view of the full island, showing some trees and greenery, and the town with an assortment of buildings.]]
I’m from a beautiful and remote island in the Pacific Ocean.
We’ve never had any guests to our island, which is fine with us.
Everyone who lives on the island uses a wheelchair to get around.
[[Scene: Three friends in wheelchairs meeting and greeting each other in town. Moves to a man sitting under a tree, with his wheelchair charging at a charging station, until it says ‘Charge Complete’ and moves to where he’s seated.]]
Moving around on a wheelchair is like walking to us. We control the wheelchair completely with our minds. In fact, until recently, we didn’t even know what walking was.
[[Scene: Same man approaches and enters a supermarket. The entrance has no stairs; he enters using a wheelchair lift.]]
Since we all use wheelchairs, the town isn’t equipped with any stairs. All the doorways in the city are just the right size to allow easy access. Every location is designed to make getting around town accessible for all citizens, like me.
[[Scene: Friends greeting each other in town. Pathways are flat and no buildings show stairs. Moves to a beach with a man looking out into the water.]]
The town was a great place to live and our life was drama free. Until one fateful day. A strange thing hit a rock [[Scene: A boat]] and started sinking.
All of a sudden, people started appearing in the water. They used their legs to swim towards our shore. It felt like aliens had landed on our island. Most islanders weren’t sure what to make of the new arrivals.
[[Scene: Islanders looking skeptically at new arrivals.]]
I overheard men and women’s shock and surprise that they didn't use wheels to get around. Other townsfolk wondered how our "freakishly tall" guests would fit through our normal doorways without hitting their heads, or even how they’d move around inside once they get inside a house.
[[Scene: Islanders having day dreams of new arrivals hitting their heads in buildings.]]
People started giving them nicknames like "head-hitters", "non-wheelers", and "chair-impaired."
[[Scene: Mayor working in her office. Moves to mayor, who appears to move rapidly in her wheelchair, greeting the boat’s captain on the shore.]]
News spread to the Mayor and she rushed down to the beach to meet our island’s first ever guests. While the Mayor was perplexed by these "upright" visitors, she welcomed them to our island and offered them shelter.
[[Scene: Islanders welcoming new arrivals to their town. A man in a wheelchair is towing a new arrival who is seated in a wagon; the captain and another man are being welcomed by an islander in front of a building with a sign that reads ‘Welcome Chair Impaired.’]]
We all pitched in and helped move the new arrivals into a hotel in the middle of town. But almost immediately, the "chair-impaireds" started causing problems in our perfectly designed town. These non-wheelers couldn’t even navigate through our normal sized doors. The head-hitters kept damaging our ceilings. And this "walking" thing kept getting in the way of us wheeling down the streets.
[[Scene: Various scenarios of new arrivals hitting their heads on ceilings and getting in the way of the islanders. One example is shown in town with an islander saying ‘Move out of the way!’ and a new arrival saying ‘Sorry.’]]
The brains of our chair-impaired guests weren’t sophisticated enough to operate a wheelchair with their minds, like we all so easily do.
[[Scene: New arrival sitting in a wheelchair, confused, asking himself, ‘How do you make this thing go!?’]]
It was clear that these new guests were a hazard to the city and our way of life and soon our citizens took to the mayor’s office to protest.
[[Scene: Islanders and doctors gather in the mayor’s office.]]
The mayor tried to ease everyone’s concerns by explaining that she had put together a committee of doctors to study the new peculiar guests. The doctors began handing out helmets to fix the guests' head hitting problems.
[[Scene: New arrival is handed a helmet from a doctor after hitting his head on a ceiling, asking, ‘Am I supposed to wear this???!’]]
The doctors also put together a prototype to keep the walking people’s backs bent at all times so that doorways and ceilings became less of an issue.
[[Scene: Doctors observe man wearing a helmet, with a pole taped to his back to keep it straight while hunched, bent over holding a small wheel with handles.]]
The doctors assured all the townspeople that they had fixed the issue of the chair-impaired.
[[Scene: Mayor watching the TV in her office, which shows ‘Breaking News: Newcomers issues have been fixed!’ Moves to scene of three new arrivals in the lobby outside the mayor’s office, each rigged with a helmet, pole taped to their backs, using the single-wheels with handles, and they are saying: ‘Equal access for everyone!,’ ‘We’re not the problem!’, and Fix the city!’]]
But the chair-impaireds thought they should be treated as equals.
They decided to stand-up for their rights and demanded that the city make accommodations for them.
[[Scene: One of the new arrivals in the mayor’s office, breaking free of his prototype equipment, standing up, hitting his head on the ceiling, and saying, ‘Make accommodations for us!!!’ Mayor places her head in her hands and says to herself, ‘What’s their problem?! We’ve made accommodations!’]]
[[On-screen text over clouds: ‘Will the townsfolk and the new arrivals agree on a viable solution? Find out in the next episode… Accessibility.com. Accessibility starts here.’]]