Accessibility is defined as the ability to access and benefit from some system or entity. The concept often focuses on people with disabilities or special needs and their rights to access.
Being a person with a disability I have been pretty lucky to access a lot of things such as bathrooms, buildings, clean water, shelter, and education. I am very blessed. These are just a few examples of things someone may struggle to access. I can’t imagine dealing with that on a daily basis, having to struggle to get into a building to go to school or worrying if using the restroom is going to be accessible to my needs.
These things have improved but there is always room for improvement. As I share examples of times in my life I would like to state as I have before I am very lucky to have the mobility I do. This in no way means that I am an expert in accessibility but I do have experience with having to use a wheelchair in some circumstances. I will always advocate for people of all abilities.
Here are some experiences I have struggled with. I’m happy to share them to hopefully lend some perspective into what it’s like living with a disability and show how important accessibility is to me.
When I was in my last year of college I had a major surgery called an osteotomy where they broke my femur and put it back together straighter to help the alignment in my legs and to take some pressure off my knees. This surgery was to help improve my life at the time but also to help keep my knees in better shape since I will probably have to be in a wheelchair full time at some point in the future. It was a brutal few months. I remember going to my college campus for an event and not being able to enter a hallway because it was too narrow. I also struggled to find an accessible path to get to a certain room in the building. It took a lot of extra time and I was already tired from wheeling myself around. That same night I went to use the bathroom and I missed most of the class because I had been struggling in the restroom because it wasn’t accessible.
Walking Long distances
One year I went to Disneyland with my family. The first day I walked the whole day, with breaks for yummy Disney snacks, but the next day I couldn’t walk. When I say I couldn’t walk I mean that I had to hold onto the walls and walk super slow because my legs were spasming and causing me to almost fall. However, Disney didn’t disappoint with accessibility. We rented a wheelchair and although it was pricey, I was able to enjoy the park for the next few days.
National Park Trails
Now onto a passion of mine and the reason why I started this account and why I will continue to talk about accessibility for all. Imagine there being no accessible trails such as paved or gravel trails for people with and without disabilities allowing them to access parts of the beautiful parks. It’s hard to imagine for most people because it’s often something that doesn’t cross our minds.
The National Parks are for everyone, not just for able bodied people and not just for those with disabilities or those that struggle with mobility. I grew up in a state that has five gorgeous parks and for so many years I never visited the parks because I just thought it was a bunch of hard hiking so I didn’t go.
But it’s not just hard hikes. THANK GOODNESS! Yes, there will be trails like Angels Landing at Zions National Park that I will never be able to do and maybe you won’t be able to either BUT think of the people that have fought to have some trails accessible for all abilities. This is why I love the National Parks. There will be times in my life that I will be going on those trails that those with wheelchairs can’t access and I so with that they could. However, in every park there is something for people of all abilities to do and that is what makes my heart happy.