a travel guide for all of us
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Canadians spend a lot of time looking down on Americans for their healthcare, their education and judicial systems but they're beating us in some areas of accessibility. In America most movie theatres, auditoriums, hospitals, etc are equipped with an induction loop.
An induction loop is a system of built-in wireless microphones that transmit sound directly to hearing aids equipped with a T-coil. In a movie theatre that would be the movie sound track. In an hospital it might be the overhead announcements. The user can still hear other things but they are muted making it easier to hear whatever the mics are programmed to pick up.
My workplace put one in our main boardroom. It isn't always perfect but it means I can hear nearly everything said around a table that seats 30 people. I'm currently the only one who benefits from it - my workplace takes accommodation very seriously.
The blue/ear sign indicates the building you're in is equipped with a loop. You do see these in Canadian airports but in my experience they don't always seem functioning. Canadian movie theatres are still using hand help screens with closed captioning. Really handy to have to keep looking down to read the words and then up to the screen to follow the action. I've just quit going to movie theatres. Live theatre venues sometimes have a loop system but you can't count on it.
In England accommodation is mandatory which means universities, the subway system, even stores are expected to have a loop system. I'm not sure why Canada is so far behind in legislating visit-ability? I think it's time we demand better. How else are we going to maintain our smugness over Americans?
OK, I know things have gotten better. I know some of you will share stories of travelling 20 or 30 years ago and how much worse it was (we welcome your stories!). But we still have a long way to go; airport ticket agents still call out which zone is boarding and get mad when I line up too soon because I can't hear what they've said, Jill still has people frustrated when it takes her 2 (or 4) tries to get her luggage in the overhead compartment, and sure you can find an accessible stall in the airport but try using the one on the plane.
This blog isn't to call anyone out, or shame them, and we don't want it to turn into a bitch session (but there may be some frustration). I still forget to slow down on the stairs for Jill and she forgets to speak louder (well, shout actually) in the car for me. We get it, if you're able-bodied you just don't know what the challenges are for other-able people. There are some things that may remain out of reach for some folks (I'm thinking of parts of Jerusalem that really aren't wheel chair accessible) but there are plenty of things that can be done to help all of us navigate the world of travel (hey airports, let's get those announcements on screens!) easier.
So this blog is one part nudge in the right direction and one part information for other folks like us who face challenges when travelling. We'll give you tips on particular cities, friendly places and ones that you might want to avoid. We also want to hear your stories because we represent a small portion of the the challenges people face. Let's get learning....
(and what the heck does that sign above mean?!!)