Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Best Ad Ever!

One of my best friends sent me this link today. Her email subject was "the best ad ever", and I share it because I agree.

I'm posting this link pretty much on its own because I want people to see it before the link stops working. If anyone can translate the French for me, please let me know what the titles are.

I've always thought that when you see crips in ads, on TV, in movies and in cartoons (ala John Callahan), it will be evidence that we are beginning to make in-roads into the mainstream culture.

Check it out!


per comment from Rebecca, translation of French in above commercial:

Woman at counter: Hello, I would like to open an account.

Writing: The world is harder when it's not designed for you

Voice-over/writing: From now on, the EDF areas are accessible for everyone

Voice-over: When your life lights up: EDF

EDF=Energie de France - National electric/power provider

Thanks, Rebecca!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Down in Front, Part Deux

Last weekend, I went to a concert at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco. I had been there once before, in the '80s.

There's an elevator, which you reach through a wire fence and a creepy alley. The elevator is tiny, and paneled in some weird fake blond wood. It was so slow that the movement between floors is almost imperceptible.

They have a few small cocktail tables set up along the wall opposite the bar. There's a padded bench for people accompanying crips or people who can't either sit on the floor or stand for 2-3 hours. We sat at one of these tiny tables.

The concert was at 8pm -- we got there at 7pm so that we could get something to eat. They have "pub food" -- it was good, but here's a tip: don't order the nachos if you think you might have to eat them in the dark.

As the venue slowly filled up, people were sitting down on the dance floor in front of the stage -- there were no seats of any kind. Upstairs (not accessible by the elevator) there were balcony seats where you could look down on the stage. This is where you would want to be, if you had the ability to get there.

When the concert started, everyone stood up. Fortunately, I had only paid $25.00 for my ticket.

This was a Dar Williams concert. Prior to this concert, my Dar Williams exposure consisted of listening to some of Dar's acoustic music on a CD that my friend had burned for me. Most of the music at this concert I would characterize as "rock", and the room didn't seem big enough to accommodate the volume of the electronic instruments.

The audience was almost entirely white, and I would guess the average age to be somewhere between 35-40. I found it ironic that most people were forced to stand throughout the whole concert. This was not a group that was rocking out and dancing -- they simply had no where to sit.

This audience was a group of people who are rocketing toward senior citizen status. That doesn't mean that they want to stop going to concerts, but they don't necessarily want to stand for 3 hours, nor do they want their ribs to be vibrating from the volume of the music.

If he was alive, the legendary Bill Graham would be a senior citizen. Don't concert promoters need to start thinking about providing different facilities/amenities, depending on the audience that's likely to attend each concert?

And no, I couldn't see a thing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Down in Front

From the NY Times, another classic tale of life in Cripland:

A Ticket to Bias



I WAS 15 when I first saw the Beatles in concert. That was 1965, long before the Americans with Disabilities Act, so wheelchair seating was rather unpredictable. Lucky for me, the ushers at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens pointed me to the front of the arena and told me to stay there.

"There" was right under Paul McCartney's amplifier. A perfect place to be.

"There" last Friday night at Madison Square Garden, 40 years later, was third row on the floor, a few feet away not just from his amplifier, but from Sir Paul himself. An opening night dream seat, you might assume.

Actually, it was a seat from hell.

The ticket was a Mother's Day gift from my 20-year-old daughter. She and my niece scraped together $278, contacted the Garden's disabled services office, and gave me the best gift I've ever received.

Like the thousands of others there that night, I expected a great show, and a great memory.

At the Garden, though, as I was being shown to my seat (a spot at the end of the aisle where a chair had been removed), I wondered if I would be able to see the stage if the fans in front stood up during the show.

Don't worry, the security guards assured me, they know how to handle the situation. I also asked a representative from the Garden's disabled services office. He said the same thing.

When Sir Paul came out and launched into his first number, everyone stood up, and all I could see was a wall of gyrating backsides.

Too close to the stage to even see the huge monitors overhead, I moved into the aisle to try to get a view. The security guard told me to move back. I asked him where I could go to see around the masses of bodies, and he ordered me to stay where I was.

I tried to remain polite, but that painful sensation I get when I'm being dismissed or patronized swept through me and I yelled back, "These tickets cost $300, and I can't see anything."

"Stay there," the security guard shouted, his face just inches from mine. "If you don't like it, you can leave."

He abruptly took off, returning with the guy from the disabled services office, who looked around and said there wasn't much he could do.

It was then that I snapped. More than forty years of having to enter restaurants through kitchen doors; years and years of being carried up the steps of public schools; and countless times being hauled onto airplanes like a baby in a buggy culminated in this one degrading moment. Who gave them the right to take my money and then take away the concert? Who gave them the right to make me look as if I had done something wrong?

And so I left the concert before the former Beatle had even begun his third song. Yes, someone did ask if I wanted to move to a seat up in the stands. I declined. Was there any other person at that concert - disabled or not - who would sit in the $100 section if her ticket had cost nearly $300? And yes, they did ultimately refund the ticket - but I wanted to see the show more than I wanted the money.

When I asked the Garden staff how they could, in good conscience, sell a ticket that afforded no possible view of the stage for a person who cannot stand up, their response was, "It's an old building."

What about the Americans with Disabilities Act and sight-line regulations, I asked them. Aren't you breaking the law? Again the reply, "It's an old building."

The final blow was when someone from the disabled services office accused me of swapping my ticket to, I suppose, get closer to the stage.

Later, I wondered what Sir Paul would say if he knew what had happened. His wife, after all, is disabled, and maybe she knows what I now know: No matter who you are, no matter how much money you have, no matter how many laws are passed, true equality remains a dream out of reach.

Susan M. LoTempio is an assistant managing editor at The Buffalo News.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Survey Sez...

Ok, I need some help here, folks. Any insights would be useful.

Does anybody out there have a "coach"? As distinguished from a "therapist" or a shrink? If so, does anybody discuss disability issues with their coach?

Does anybody know a coach that understands disability issues?

My perception is that coaching is a rising phenomenon, and that it does serve a legitmate niche. My further perception is that most "life coaches" need to have some expertise in disability issues because they've gotta be serving the Boomers, and Boomers are about to be (if they aren't already) hip deep in disability/crip issues.