Having an injury certainly opens your eyes to what others have been dealing with for lifetimes. The friend I mentioned in my earlier post about pain medication has (after 2 months) returned to the office for short periods of time. Today, we ended up talking and expressing our mutual shock at just how HEAVY the doors are at Microsoft. It’s not something an able-bodied person might notice on a day to day basis, but for anyone mobility challenged it can be quite an effort. That’s why I didn’t return to work until I was crutch-free seven weeks after my original knee injury last year – I knew that there was no way I could balance my weight on one foot trying not to drop crutches while simultaneously waving my badge and pulling on the door. Untenable. And frustating… realizing that you can be defeated by a simple door does not inspire one with a lot of confidence about their recovery.
As you explore the world in your somewhat impaired state, you become much more attuned to intentional affordances – but even more so, the lack of intentional affordances in many places. Sometimes the shortfall is simple and severe – I tried to attend a show at the Paramount Theatre last year while still on crutches, using VIP tickets gifted by a kind friend. But the VIP section was on the third floor balcony… and the Paramount has NO ELEVATORS. It boggled my mind that one of the largest venues in Seattle has such a significant accessibility problem. The best they could do for me and a friend is to put temporary chairs at the far left of a row in the orchestra section – fairly bad angle, especially when compared to what we could have had. Have handicapped folks been shoved to the side all this time at that venue?