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Buy Local - Unless You Use A Wheelchair

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Hillary has kindly (and strongly!) suggested that I start submitting posts about Accessibility Fail in Halifax to the blog here. Ths is my first post on the subject in this forum, although I regularly blog on the subject.

The images in this post have alt-tags that will describe the images for screen readers.

Or not, since apparently I cannot use images from Flickr on this site. I hope my descriptions of the images are sufficient. You can read the original post, complete with images, here.

Dear Halifax,

Shine on, you faily diamond, you.

Our plans today were simple. Go to the historic (and touristy) Hydrostone Market in Halifax. Buy something yummy from Julian's, apparently an awesome pastry shop. Look at Antiques. I would make Don listen to me natter about the rebuilding project and history thereof. It would be a lovely way to beat the heat that is currently invading our flat.

This is what happened instead.

We got off the bus at the Hydrostone, and as soon as we started look at the wonderful shops, we knew we were in Fail Country. Every single entrance on the main street had at least one step.

But! I thought. All may not be lost!

At the end of the market is a Yarn Shop. I popped my head in. "Hi," I said, "Where's your wheelchair accessible entrance?"

"Oh... um... Well, they may want to try the back, there's a ramp," said the owner, pointing towards a small door that had many things crowded around it.

Here is a picture of the "ramp":

[Description of photo: Photo shows a wooden ramp in a state of disrepair. The bottom of the ramp starts with a step up. The top of the ramp ends with another step up. The door is very narrow.]

You may notice a step leading up to the suggested ramp. You may notice another step leading up to the door of the shop. You may also notice the narrow entrance. (This is going to become important in a little bit.)

"No," I said, "I don't think so."

The owner of the shop suggested we try another shop a little further up the street. "We're built on a hill, they won't have steps, surely someone can get in there!"

I told her three times that there was a step, and that it wouldn't work, but she insisted that going to Hen House would be helpful, and we could browse in there. (Then she told us we could "window shop". Thanks, able-bodied person! We never thought about window shopping before! Everyone knows that when you can buy what you want by looking in the window!)

This is the shop with the "smaller step" she sent us to:

[Description of photo: Photo shows Don in his electric wheelchair in front of a step that looks to be about 1 1/2 inches or so high]

Oh look! That's totally helpful, able-bodied person! Thank you for directing us to that much easier step there! Wow, that shop is going to certainly see us in it!

I also stopped in the Antique Store to see if they had an accessible entrance. He did not. I asked briefly about swords because Don collects Antique swords. He said he didn't have any, and then suggested we try one of his competitors that specialises in military antiques. When I asked about the entrance, he responded "There are four steps."

[Description of photo: Don and his electric wheelchair in front of a slightly smaller step, but still too much for his chair to handle]

We went to the back of the market, in the hopes that there would be something that would indicate an accessible entrance. I'm not fond of the "roll 'round the back" way of making places accessible, for reasons Capriuni makes clear, but it's better than anything else.

We saw someone who was on a break and asked her if anything in the Hydrostone Market was accessible.

"Well," she said. "The doors are wide enough."

Well, that's helpful. The doors are wide enough (they aren't). Obviously if you can't get to the door, this is not helpful, but I'm so glad that someone would point out that the doors are wide enough, especially when they are not.

So, we came home.

Neither one of us are in the mood right now to go out and try anything else. It's hot and muggy in beautiful downtown Halifax, and there's a Buy Local! drive going on. The local shops I know for certain we can get into are all bookstores, or tea shops.

And, you know what? I'm all out of desire for bloody tea.

The argument, of course, is that these are historical buildings. However, some of the steps are obviously repaired or replacements. Many of the signs are "new". There are other things that have been added onto the back. I imagine they are all up to firecode. But ensuring wheelchair accessibility - including enough space for wheelchairs to move around the shop - is apparently that thing that will ruin a site's historic value.

Damn those cripple people, wanting to ruin everything.

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