A June 2011 post that I left in draft form until now.
I have about forty minutes alone to sit in silence and allow my thoughts to bubble up to my consciousness. My husband and children have gone to buy groceries.
The past few weeks have been busy and stressful but they have also brought some positive outcomes. My children's school has agreed to install railings on the exteriors stairs as well as install a mechanized door at the bottom of the ramp where presently there is only a heavy door with very little room to maneuvre strollers, wheelchairs or walkers. The principle of the school has also agreed to meet with me (this coming week) and do a "walk through of the school and the area surrounding the school. I invited two other parents, both of whom have children with disabilities attending the school. Typically the administration in my children's elementary school has persuaded families with children with disabilities to attend other schools. Despite the fact that the official website of the school claims to be accessible, and despite the school's application to become a UNESCO school.
I am still waiting for handicap parking to be provided but between the city and the school division I suspect that this will not result in something that will satisfy those of us who need that type of access.
This past winter I received a return phone call from the city regarding my request for a handicap parking space in front of the school, closest to the cross-walk and closest to the ramp at the front of the school. The response that I was given was that I should have the principal of the school put in a request to the city, otherwise people like me, a regular tax paying citizen, who chooses to exercise her right to vote, or else to quote the City Engineer "everyone and their neighbour" would be putting in requests.
The likelihood of the City being flooded with requests for accessible parking spaces is highly unlikely. In fact, that scenario is almost laughable, at least for my neighbourhood it is, because if in 100 years, no one has asked for accessible parking at my children's school then I suspect that the massive amount of phone calls will likely never happen.
So fuck-you, you civic lazy prick for giving me the brush off. Naturally, when I asked for his last name he refused to give it to me when I suggested that I would be following this up with someone else. The street is city property, not school property, as such, that type of request can come from anyone. The suggestion that the school principle should put in the request because in some irrelevant way she carries more authority and knowledge in universal accommodation is an insult and patently false.
However, because I seemed to have reached an impasse with the city I passed it on to the administration at the school. Fine. One less thing for me to bang my head against the wall about.
At least the railings and automatic door will be installed. During the walk-through on Wednesday the other parents and I will be able to make observations of the challenges that we experience on a daily basis from the moment we drive to school, try to find parking, try to push wheelchairs through the snow for god knows how far away, or trying to walk through the snow without falling down, to getting into the school-stairs with no railings closest to where I have parked or the wheelchair ramp further away? Which will I risk falling on or from that day.
It is fortunate that the principal is willing to participate in this. I will put on my professional face for our meeting. I may bring print outs of the Canadian and Manitoba building codes to reinforce the fact that there are a few other important areas in addition to parking that need to be addressed.
When I suggested this tour with the principal I also included the three school trustees as well as the vice-principal of the school in my written request. Two trustees responded to my email, to tell me that if I needed any help to let them know (which of course was what my email was about). One of them asked me if anyone had told me what the process was for this and told me to call the school Superintendent. He gave me her name, but no contact information. His final note was to keep him informed. A third trustee did not respond at all, nor did the vice-principal. Which is really no surprise as the V.P. is moving on to bigger things this fall, as the principal at another school.
I spoke with the Superintendent's assistant on a Friday. She gave me the Super's email address so that I could forward my email. She also took down my phone number so that the Super could call me back. The assistant said that I may not hear back from her boss that very same day and if not then she would likely call me on the Monday. That was nine days ago. I'm still waiting for her to contact me.
(I just heard our car pull up, and footsteps coming to the door, my daughter opens the door and calls out a cheery "hello!").
Too be continued, whenever...