Sushi & Beer

Every week I ride the Bloor Street Subway out to Scarborough and back into the city. If you have been on the subway before you know what it’s like; people talking, sitting, reading, and minding their own business as the train rumbles beneath the city streets. The subway is a kind of strange place because it’s full of people who we do not know and who we do not always notice or even pay any attention to, we are generally concerned with who is in our immediate surrounding and when our stop is coming. While on my most recent trip home from Scarborough I noticed a man getting on the train at Coxwell Avenue. I was sitting on one of those old stained red and silver seats nearest to the sliding doors with my head leaned up against the glass. I was half asleep, as I often am on the subway, the rocking and warmth having lulled me into a semi-conscious state where the Queen could walk on by and I would still be trying to hold my eye lids open (this is also why I often miss my stop). As I sat there with my head half-tucked into the top of my wool winter coat, my collar popped up around my neck, and my toque low on my face I saw the man enter the train and sit down on the floor. I thought that in my sleepy stupor I was seeing things; why would someone sit on the floor when the train was half empty? This man caught my attention and pulled me back into consciousness as I continued to observe him.

 
He sat on the floor with his back leaned up against the red doors opposite me, these doors wouldn’t open again till Yonge Street So he had time to make himself comfortable. As the train pulled us farther into town I saw more and more of this man; his grey hair sticking out from under his tattered blue and white Maple Leafs toque and the dark creases and dry pale skin that enveloped his hands and face. His acid wash baggy blue jeans were torn up at the bottom showing off his beat down formerly white sneakers and he wore an old Maple Leafs jersey which matched his hat. The man was carrying a reusable shopping bag with him that looked like it only had one tug left in it before it feel completely apart. I found out later that in this bag he was carrying his dinner, a small take-out box with a few maki rolls in it and a pitcher of light beer wearing its own toque to minimize spillage. After the man removed the contents of his bag with extreme care so as to protect them from the unstable and unpredictable movements of the train he did something that in the moment surprised me. He put his hands together in prayer, closed his eyes, and began whispering something I was too far to hear. He then took a single maki roll and a sip of beer and cautiously returned his meal to his dilapidated sack. As I watched him eat I thought about how I never thank anyone for my food other than the waiter who brings it to me. This man was thanking his Lord for the pitiable amount of food he had and yet I take a full cupboard and fridge for granted.

 
Our journey continued across the Bloor Street Viaduct and I noted the darkened sky lit up with the luminous glow of downtown business towers and condos reflecting off the clouds. Our train stopped on the bridge and I could feel the wind brushing against the sides of the train, the doors rattling in and out, and the screech of the wheels as we slowed to a halt. Looking out the train window I felt the whole city get cold even though this is an unusually warm December. I wondered to myself where this man would go, what would he do when he reached his stop and was faced with a still harsh December? In the time that I was distracted by the city skyline and my thoughts I hadn’t noticed that my traveling companion had slipped into his own state of half-consciousness. He stretched his legs out along the doorway and his head and back were upheld by the glass separating the seats from the doors. His left hand and arm were hugging his shopping bag and in his right hand he had a lighter. It was at this point that I saw the cigarette sticking out from under his toque amongst his scraggly hair. He was playing with the lighter, rubbing it with his fingers and tapping it on the train floor. At one point he threw his arms up into the air and as they crashed back down to the floor I could see his face drop into sadness, as though he were giving up and submitting to the thoughts that were running around in his mind. Maybe he was expressing frustration, depression, despair, desolation, or hopelessness, I don’t know what he was thinking but he did not seem happy, he looked tired; exhausted in a way that I hope I will never have to feel.

 
Our train picked up and we started into the tunnel, eventually reaching Sherbourne Street where the man rose to his feet and switched over to the opposite doors now lying directly beside me. As the doors slid open at Yonge Street I watched the changing faces of the new passengers. Men and women went from smiling and laughing to disturbed and disgusted. People scoffed and turned up their lips in a grimace, passing judgment over someone they didn’t know and had no contact with. Some people didn’t even notice him as he lay at their feet. Every person with the exception of one man parted at the doorway moving further into the train and filling it. The man who remained bent down and pinched the arm of my now sleeping traveling companion waking him up. The new man dressed in a dark woolen coat and boots asked the laying man to get up as he was in the way, even though he was not bothering anyone. It’s not as though people were stepping over him to get to closed doors that would not open again until Spadina Avenue which I later learned was this man’s stop. A heated conversation ensued with yelling and swearing resulting in a now irate and fatigued man being forced up and out of his resting position and off the train. This entire exchange was pointless and unnecessary and only resulted in anger and the perpetuation of stereotypes. After the altercation the atmosphere on the train changed, for a moment there was a noticeable dip in the collective mood. The woman across from me said “what can you do?” and shrugged off the whole event, the man next to me said to his friend “they’re all the same” and continued their conversation as though nothing had occurred.

 
Why was this happening? Why did this whole show come about? Why did this man feel it was his right to upset and force someone off the train who was doing nothing wrong? Was he assuming that because of the way this man looked or was acting he shouldn’t be on the train with us? Or perhaps he went into the situation with good intentions, but we all know where that road leads. I don’t know why this happened but all I can say is that my traveling companion deserved the same peace and respect that I receive. I am often asleep on the train and while I may not be lying on the floor no one bothers to wake me. Being in a seat puts me in no one’s way but this man was in no one’s way either. He knew the door schedule and would have gotten up the same way he did the last time. This man never even said anything to anyone, he was minding his own business the same as everyone else and yet society decided it was their right to intervene and not to help but to make things worse. It’s been my experience that assumptions do not lead to good solutions and going into a situation with stereotypes in the back of your mind will not help but hinder. People experiencing homelessness aren’t stupid or worth less than anyone else. This man simply wanted a warm place to eat his sushi and beer and to take a nap, he was not impeding the travel of or bothering anyone else and yet he was interrupted and attacked. Why?

When the “Man-spread” is an Issue

man-spreading

Over the past few months, “man-spreading” has become a household term.  The transit controversy was discussed on the evening news, newspaper articles explored the issue and it appeared on social media.  For those who missed the uproar of the term “man-spreading”, it means angling ones legs in a way that takes up more space.  It’s been most noted on public transit and is generally done by men.  I have been wanting to write about this for a while but have been waiting for the parade of ridiculous articles to pass.

There were a lot of opinions and stories on “man-spreading” that diverted from the main discussion.  There were articles on how the seats on the TTC are small and do not accommodate all body types.  True and an important issue, but that has nothing to do with the “man-spreading” discussion.  There were articles about people putting their feet up and taking up seats with their bags which diverted us away from the topic of “man-spreading”.  There were articles about how men need to spread out due to their anatomy and asking them not to was a violation of their rights.  The Men’s Rights Activists had a good time with that one.  The final group of articles was close to hitting the nail on the head but not quite; they discussed men who spread so far that they take up two seats so no one can sit beside them.  This is part of the “man-spreading” issue but there’s a piece that is missing.

For me, “man-spreading” becomes an issue when I’m sitting beside that person.  It’s an issue when the person beside me is sitting with their legs wide open while I’m sitting with my legs together and they’re being crushed against the side of the seat.  Even with my legs like that, the person beside me still has their leg on mine.

Living in Toronto, you have to get used to not always having your own personal space.  It’s not an option during the morning commute where everyone is packed in and pushed up against each other in the subway.  Almost everywhere in Toronto is busy and being in each other’s personal space has become so common we don’t even think about it.

Despite personal space being less common in Toronto daily life, I like to have it when I can.  When it’s not rush hour and I manage to get a seat, that is a time when I can have personal space.  During that time, I don’t want someone’s leg almost on top of mine and to be crushed against the side of the seat just because someone can’t be bothered to close their legs.

Be courteous to other people on transit- stop “man-spreading”.

Photo from: cbc.ca

Mayoral Debate on Disability Issues

The Mayoral Debate on Disability issues. From left to right, Olivia Chow, John Tory and moderator Helen Henderson and ASL interpreters.

The Mayoral Debate on Disability issues. From left to right, Olivia Chow, John Tory and moderator Helen Henderson and ASL interpreters.

On Monday, September 22nd a mayoral debate on disability issues was held in Ryerson’s Student Centre. Having been to the same event four years ago I had an idea of what to expect. Needless to say I was surprised when I arrived. The room was tiny, not nearly large enough to accommodate everyone who attended and not large enough to provide space for those who may have anxiety in large crowds, people with service animals, using mobility devices or with strollers. The microphones where quiet and captioning was only on one side of the room. Doug Ford, not surprisingly, did not show, John Tory and Olivia Chow did. Ari Goldkind, stood in the back ready to go, but was not allowed to debate.

The issues raised are important; housing, transit, employment, creation of anti-ableist policy, but the answers where the same as they have been every election. There were no concrete solutions, no actual timelines, but agreement there should be timelines. At one point, John Tory even suggested that having participated in disability simulation event and having spent time in a wheel chair meant that he knew what it was like for wheel chair users. “Suffering,” “caring for” and “differing abilities” where phrases that were thrown around as if they were meaningful.

The debate ended early, with Tory indicating that he had somewhere else to be and leaving at 2:30pm. Olivia Chow stayed to answer questions until 3pm. The debate was scheduled from 1pm to 3:30pm. I realize that candidates have busy lives, but so do those who attended the debate. For some, attending the debate was a day trip. Booking wheel trans the week before, getting up early for the long ride down town, then waiting around for a ride that was booked to pick them after 3:30pm. To leave before the debate was scheduled to end, to imply your schedule is more important, is offensive to say the least.

I did learn several important things from this debate. One being that we need to rethink how we organize events for the disability community at large. More time, larger rooms, scent free policy, an overflow area for those not able to participate in crowds, advanced notice of live streaming availability with options to tweet or email questions are just a few things that need to be considered. Secondly, the disabled community should host meetings before hand to discuss how to ask questions and demand answers in the most effective way. Questions about accommodations at universities are valid questions, for universities, but not for mayoral debates. Thirdly, we need to ensure that all members of the disabled community are present and able to participate. There were many people attending who use AAC devices, but there were no communication facilitators. And lastly, we need to get better at holding candidates accountable. John Tory had agreed to the debate, Doug Ford is front runner, both should have attended and stayed for the entire debate.

One of the final questions from the audience was one that has stayed with me. What can we do to encourage disabled people to run for office? This is a question we need to collectively work on for four years from now.

A Subway Tale: Don’t Watch, Act!

Dundas Station

This upcoming school year will be my third year living in downtown Toronto.  I have embraced all that comes with living in a big city; lots of people, busy streets and walking everywhere.  The one thing about a big city that I have not embraced is the idea that big cities are unfriendly.  I find Toronto to be a very friendly city.  People hold doors, say “excuse me” and despite keeping to ourselves, we do talk to each other sometimes.  I dislike when we are compared to New York as an unfriendly city and cringe at the murder of Kitty Genovese where witnesses did not act or call police.  I have heard Toronto described as the city that will stop to help you if needed while other large cities will walk by if you’re lying on the sidewalk.  My experience on the subway during the first week of school made me question whether we are still the friendly city that will stop or the big city that keeps walking.

I was buying tokens during afternoon rush hour and saw a crowd around a young girl.  She was really disoriented and didn’t look well.  I was about to get on the subway but noticed that although people weren’t walking away, they were just standing there watching.  No one was asking if she was okay or even that close to her.  Everyone just stood over her watching and waiting.  Another woman and I went over to ask her if she was okay.  She wasn’t okay and was in need of medical attention.  We put an ice pack I had on her neck and waited for the paramedics to come.

I’m not writing this to say hey, look what I did.  I’m writing this to say we need to look at who we are becoming as a city and this scenario is a good example of why we need to do that.  When we went over to the girl, most of the crowd left.  One man bought a bottle of water and a woman went up to street level to use her cell phone to call an ambulance.  That’s four people who took action while the rest of those travelling through Dundas Station just watched or kept walking.  I understand hesitation to insert ourselves into situations that do not involve us but sometimes it’s necessary.  This girl was 18 years old, just moved here for school and had a medical condition that was extremely debilitating at the time.

Since this happened I keep thinking about what if the four of us kept walking and went home or got on the subway.  Would any of the people who were just watching act and ask if she was okay or call an ambulance?

I think Toronto is right in the middle of being a friendly city that stops and the big city that keeps walking.  We may not walk away but standing and watching isn’t doing anything for the person in distress.  When things like that happen we need to act if we want to be a friendly big city.  By acting we were able to bring the girl’s fever down and she was talking and coherent by the time the paramedics arrived.  Watching wouldn’t have done anything.  The next time you see something similar don’t watch, act!

Photo from: Wikipedia

The Problem with Accessibility Guidelines

man in wheelchair on sidewalk with snowbank between him and the bus stop

With the introduction of the AODA, Ontario will have to abide by a set standards of accessibility guidelines. While this is a positive move for Ontario, these guidelines leave much to be desired. I recently went to a speaker series on the AODA. The speaker commented how far ahead Thunder Bay was in accessible transit, as their entire transit system is fully accessible. As luck would have it, I found myself in Thunder Bay a few days after that speaker series.

Being impressed by Thunder Bay’s accessibility I was determined to learn the transit system and commented to several people that I heard how great their transit system was. The looks were quizzical and then they let me in on a little secret. Transit in Thunder Bay may have buses that kneel but it is far from being truly accessible. Transit in Thunder Bay is based on a loop system. Rather than taking a direct route, buses loop around large areas. According to one woman I spoke with, it can take it over an hour to get from her destination to home. A trip that in a car would take roughly 10 minutes. Also, because of the loop system the buses come every 15-30 minutes depending on the route. This doesn’t sound like a long time, until you are waiting outside in -45 degree weather with no bus shelter and you are on the side of the highway because the snow hasn’t been cleared from the sidewalk. Then what happens if that accessible spot on the bus is already taken? And this is considered fully accessible transit.

Another example of guidelines run amok is the AGO. This is a relatively new, beautiful building which meets accessibility guidelines, but totally misses the mark. All new buildings must have an automatic door opener. The AGO has these, but they are impossible to spot. The inside buttons are so randomly placed that they have since added arrows to attempt to indicate which door they open. The outcome being more confusing. The building has a beautiful wooden ramp which weaves its way from the entrance to the lobby. While it is architecturally stunning and meets accessibility guidelines, it fails in usage. I was there with a man I work for, who is a wheelchair user and we were heading up the ramp and almost ran into someone coming down the ramp as it is impossible to see the other end. A woman I know told me that she didn’t even know the ramp existed. She has low vision and the fact that the ramp is all wooden, made it impossible to for her to see the entrance to the ramp.

The problem with guidelines is sometimes we forget that accessibility must go hand in hand with accommodation. It is as if meeting guidelines is enough. The reason for accessibility, the people, are forgotten. The buses can kneel, therefore needs are met. The AGO has automatic door openers, so isn’t that enough? While guidelines are helpful, they should be just a guideline. Accessibility guidelines should be the minimum done, not the maximum. If the best we can do is take a transit system which doesn’t work for any riders and add kneeling buses, then perhaps before we pat ourselves on the back we need to rethink these guidelines.

The AODA

keyboard with four keys. The keys say AODA, Customer Service standard, Integrated Accessibility Standards, Built Environment Standard

Being in the disability studies program at Ryerson, I know quite a bit about the AODA. However, whenever I mention it outside of the program I am usually met with, “what’s the A… the AO… What was that acronym again?” So here’s a quick run down.

The AODA stands for the Accessibility for Ontarian’s with Disabilities Act. It became law in Ontario on June 13, 2005. It is the first kind of legislation in the world. The Act has created standards of accessibility. This means that all levels of government, private and public sector businesses, as well as, non-profits all have to comply with these standards. There are currently five standards. Although there is talk of adding others, like an education standard. The five standards are…

  • Customer Service
  • Information and Communications
  • Employment Accessibility
  • Accessible Transportation
  • Built Environment

Not all  of the standards have been implemented. The plan is to implement them slowly so organizations have time to comply. Presently, all organizations need to comply with the customer service standards, they must have a long term accessibility plan, accessibility policies, ensure that their self-service kiosks are accessible, and all good, services and facilitates are accessible. As of Jan 1, 2014 all websites must also be accessible. All businesses need to send e-reports outlining their compliance.

The ultimate goal of the legislation is that by 2025 Ontario will be accessible for all. It is important to note that this legislation is not complaint based. That means that if a business is not compliant, the only recourse is the Human Rights Commission. Since the Harper government cancelled the Court Challenges Program in 2006, it remains too costly for most people to bring complaints before the Commission.

With an aging population this legislation could not be more important or timely. While there are issues with compliance and enforcement and the penalties which should be levied against organizations who don’t comply, at least the ground work has been laid. As this is the first legislation of its kind, other parts of Canada and the world will be looking to Ontario to see how well the AODA works. It’s up to us to light a fire under the government to enforce the AODA.

I recently went to talk on the AODA and one of the guests raised a valuable point. That while the AODA deals with accessibility standards, accommodation cannot be forgotten. Accessibility is the proactive process of removing barriers to persons with disabilities, while accommodation is reactive. Accommodation are the individual adjustments made so persons with disabilities can participate in an equitable way. So while, accessibility is vital, it must go hand in hand with accommodation.

To learn more about the legislation and what this means for Ontario check out the following websites.

http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/

http://www.aoda.ca

http://www.aodaalliance.org

 

Transportation: Toronto vs. Montreal

public transit

During Reading Week I traveled to Montreal for a little get-away before school started again.  Montreal is a greatly populated urban city, just as Toronto is.  For any urban area, public transportation is a huge concern and heavily debated topic.  The hotel I stayed at in Montreal was mid-town so I got to experience taxi, bus and subway transportation.  Since I rely on public transit in Toronto, I couldn’t help but compare Toronto and Montreal’s transit systems.

Taxis:
I would take a cab in Toronto over Montreal any day.  Every cab driver I had in Montreal was trying to cheat us one way or another.  They would start the meter then check their GPS for directions, take their time at stoplights instead of turning or my favourite was the guy who just dropped us downtown because he didn’t know where we were going.

Buses:
I’ve been living in Toronto for a year and a half and I still rely on the vocal and visual prompts for bus stops.  In Montreal, the buses don’t have either.  If you can’t see out of a window or you don’t know what the area looks like, you’re in trouble.  This would also be an issue in terms of accessibility.  Those prompts are to accommodate those with visual or hearing impairments yet Montreal doesn’t have either.  The physical structure of the buses seemed to be more spacious than Toronto buses.

Subways:
First of all, has anyone else noticed that the subway doors in Montreal open before the subway came to a full stop?  You shouldn’t lean against any subways doors, but especially not those in Montreal.  Montreal has us beat on the number of subway lines and how often they intersect, allowing opportunities for transfers.  The price for a monthly pass is almost half the price of those sold in Toronto.  I do like the Toronto subways because they match with North, East, South and West, which makes it easier to determine if you’re going in the right direction.  The Montreal subway stations are much cleaner.

Even though Montreal and Toronto are a 5 hour train ride away, they are both large urban areas where citizens rely on public transit.  Both cities’ transit systems have pros and cons as expected within cities as large as Montreal and Toronto.  If these cities want to improve on their public transit, they should take a look at the other.  If you combined Toronto’s accessibility accommodations with Montreal’s number of subway lines and prices, you’d have a perfect transit system.

Sources Used:
Image from https://cfo.asu.edu/pts

The TTC is Not Your Toilet

images

Today a man almost peed on me. That’s not a sentence you normally hear and not something I ever expected to have happen but there it is none the less. And while I have experienced the odd annoying person clipping their nails next to me on the bus or the hoards of people who clamber on while wearing full back packs or the slight shoves down the stairs during rush hour, I would always have said the majority of people on transit respect each other. That changed today.

I was heading home and was moving slowly to let others pass. I stood on the escalator with only one other person behind me when I heard splashing. Thinking someone had spilled something I turned around to see, not a coke or coffee sloshing on the steps, but a man aiming his stream in my direction. Thank god I was wearing rain boots. Is that where we are at now in this city? Where strangers will pee on one another in the subway?

It’s not like this is the first time I have seen someone peeing in the subway. It’s always been outside the station in a corner or at the far end of the platform but this was the first time it’s affected me directly. Recently, my partner (who never usually takes transit) was riding the subway home late one night. He noticed a man harassing two young women. He went up to the man and requested that he leave the women alone. All of them got on the same subway car and man paced up and down bashing his fists together. He eventually got off the subway but not without spitting in my partners face first. When I heard this I had two reactions, one was a sense of pride in my partner and the other was to shake my head and intone “you shouldn’t have gotten involved.”

I know those reactions seem contradictory. I believe that one reason for those reactions was, in part, based on gendered responses. But I also wonder if it relates to how accustomed I have become to seeing people disrespect each other on transit. My partner, as the novice transit rider, was appalled at others behaviour while I am almost immune to it. Today changed that.

Toronto is not so large of a city that we can forget to respect each other. That we can move around anonymously. Even if we could, do we want to live in city in which citizens don’t respect each other? I don’t. I know that I am part of the problem. I may not be peeing on others, but I rush, I hustle for the seat, I glare at the person whose music is too loud. It takes something as surprisingly rude as almost being peed on to realize how disrespectful we have become on transit, but today changed that.

Five Ways to Boost Your Immune System

A circle with immune system written inside. There are six other circles with arrows pointing to immune system. Inside these circle are the words, bacteria, Parasites, pollution, toxins, fungi and viruses.

Winter is coming. Well, actually it’s here. And with winter comes winter colds. It’s is impossible to avoid people who insist on sharing their germs. Transit, school, work, the grocery store, they are everywhere. If you can’t avoid them, you can at least boost your immune system and use some natural remedies to keep the winter cold at bay.

  1. Wash your hands. Sounds easy. I know, I know you are all saying that you already do this. But do you really? When you get home, before you eat, before you pick up your laptop? Washing your hands before you eat might make you feel like you are five again, but it is one of the most effective ways of keeping colds at bay. If you don’t always have access to soap and water you can use hand sanitizers. I don’t like to use those chemical laden ones so I make my own. All you need is coconut oil, it’s full of natural anti-bacterial properties, tea tree oil and whatever essential oil you like. (Rosemary is really nice)
  2. Cut down on the alcohol and increase the greens. Alcohol acidifies the body. Alcohol also increases the amount of sugar in your system and that reduces the ability of the white blood cells in your body to fight off infections. Not to mention how poorly you sleep after a night of drinking. Increasing the amount of greens you consume will help to counteract the acidification from the alcohol. Greens are also chock full of vitamin C.
  3. Shake it up. Movement and exercise reduces stress and boosts your immune system. It also leads to a better night sleep. Try rebounding. Rebounding is jumping on a mini trampoline, not only is it super fun, but it also helps to shake up and detoxify your lymphatic system.
  4. Make love more often. Believe it or not, there are several studies showing that having healthy sexual relationships also boost the immune system. A study in 2004 showed that the close contact of sexual encounters reduces the risk of colds. Having sex 1-2 times a week increases anti-bodies which help to combat the common cold. One more reason to make love not war.
  5. Get your vitamin D. It’s up to you how you decide to do this. Go out for walks or get a suppliment either way it’s important to make sure you are getting enough. Our bodies fight off infections using T-Cells. Vitamin D has been found to activate T-Cells. So it is vital to make sure you are getting enough. It’s generally recommended to take suppliments during the winter months. If you are unsure what your Vitamin D levels are, ask your doctor for a blood test.

Accessibility

images-1

I met a woman the other day who is shooting a short documentary, four minutes on accessibility in Toronto. We talked for half an hour and barely scratched the surface. Accessibility, like disability, is exceptionally varied and hard to always pin down. When she thought about accessibility, she focussed on ramps and wheel chair users. Another woman in the conversation brought up lack of access to housing, employment and treatment of their choice forced on many people experiencing mental health. I thought of elevator buttons.

I work as an attendant for a man who uses a wheel chair who uses alternative and augmentative communication. We often take the subway around the city and get swallowed by the endless levels of elevators with buttons with letters like “m” or “ul” or whole words like ‘mezzanine’ or ‘upper lobby’ but no options for an ‘up’ arrow or a ‘down’ arrow. The man I work for has a communication impairment and while he can physically hit the button he doesn’t always understand which button to push. Hell, neither do I. It wasn’t until I started to work for him that I even learned what a mezzanine is.  (Honestly, I am not actually sure what it is, I just know that it is the ‘up’ button at one of the TTC stations)

It’s pretty obvious that accessibility will benefit all of us. When my hands are full I use the push buttons (if they are turned on or working that is), escalators and elevators are popular with everyone (just look at the lines at the subway in the morning), and closed captioning means I can watch videos on the bus without headphones (and without ticking off other passengers).

Above and beyond just making all of our lives easier, accessibility is about who, we as a society, choose to value. We have a history of devaluing people for whom accessibility is a necessity. What we need to realize that is that there is a chance, a good chance, that accessibility will one day be a necessity for us. We never really consider the ramifications of stairs versus a ramp, or the importance of push buttons, or closed captioning or plain language buttons in elevators until we or someone we know needs them.

In 2011, the WHO and the World Bank release a report stating that the number of disabled people was larger than estimated and growing. There are approximately 1 billion disabled people in the world, that roughly translates to 15% of the population (http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/factsheet.pdf). With rates of disablement increasing because of age, accidents, war, disease, environmental pollution and a multitude of other sources, how can we continue to keep producing good and services for the mythic non disabled norm, a body many of us will only inhabit temporarily?