Many years ago, I would go shopping or out to a restaurant without a thought about accessibility. I would walk up curbs without thinking about people in wheelchairs. I would get annoyed with store aisles that were so packed with merchandise that I couldn’t find what I wanted. But, it would never occur to me that some people wouldn’t even be able to move around that same store. And like a lot of other people, I would stare at a blind person using a cane, but I wouldn’t ask if I could assist or direct them to the checkout register.
All that changed when I adopted four children, two of whom are in wheelchairs, one who is blind, and one who doesn’t handle too much sensory input very well. Although those adoptions began 14 years ago, I’ve not seen much progress related to accessibility in my community or other communities my family visits.
So I've created a new website as a way to raise awareness about accessibility and inclusion. My new site is www.ustooplease.com.
As my children and I travel through our community, I will review the places we visit. I will write about how physically accessible they are – how welcoming they are to people with disabilities – how inclusive a product or service they offer – and whether or not they make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Although my focus will be on my own community and my home state of Virginia, I would like to see the site expanded to include other areas.
I do not mean www.ustooplease.com to be an exercise in bashing. I will share the good as well as the not so good, but I will always let each establishment know the results of my review. I will offer to publish any comments they may have, and I will inform them of resources that are available for improving their accessibility and inclusive practices.
My sincere hope is that this endeavor will help to improve my community, as well as all communities, for people with disabilities. I want to leave a legacy of inclusion for my children. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of all people, especially those with disabilities.
Please let me know what you think of this idea.