Posts tagged ‘accessibility’

September 18, 2018

Disabled Canadians: Discrimination at the Gas Pumps?


After seeing this sign at a Shell Station in Washington state, I wondered if disabled Canadians were being discriminated against at the gas pumps. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that assistance is available at self-serve gas stations. There is no such legislation in Canada.

Well-Kept Secret?

I just discovered that if you have a handicapped parking placard, it is possible to get help at the gas pumps at the following companies:

It’s a well-kept secret, though. I have never seen any signage that offers this kind of help, have you? As it stands now, I have to use a wrench to open my gas cap. I’d rather not get started on the frustrating problem I encounter with the credit card slot! Obviously, those slots are designed for the nimble-fingered!

Full-Serve at a Cost

After all these decades of driving, there have been many times when I considered going to the full-service pumps, where gas costs more per litre than at the self-serve pumps. However, if you live in Port Coquitlam, B.C. or Richmond, B.C., full-serve is the only option available. Wouldn’t it be great to turn back the clock when every service stations offered service? Without a policy in place, pain at the pumps becomes a little sharper. Let me know if you are aware of accessibility services at the gas companies that are not mentioned here.

The Cost of a Disability

A disability is expensive, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially. Why do Canadians with disabilities have to take another physical and financial hit that could be quashed by legislation similar to The Americans with Disabilities Act, which the posted sign clearly reiterates:

Vehicle refueling services will be provided upon request at self-service prices to motorists with disabilities. If the vehicle displays an official state or locally issued disabled motorist plate or placard.

Refueling services will not be provided when there is only one employee on duty.

To obtain refueling services, honk your car horn twice and an employee on duty will pump your gasoline for you. If one is available, you may use the intercom for this purpose.

If you are pumping your own gasoline and the card reader is inaccessible to you, the employee on duty will remotely turn on the pump for you when you lift the nozzle, raise the lever, and select the desired grade of gasoline. After you have pumped your gasoline, please enter the facility and pay the employee on duty.

This facility also provides assistance in obtaining goods for purchase for our customers with disabilities. If you require this assistance, please ask the employee on duty.

I have questions with no answers:

  • It appears that gas companies are self-regulated in terms of offering assistance to those with disabilities. Why is there no such legislation in Canada?
  • Where do the organizations who support people with disabilities stand on this issue?
  • Has there been any sort of Canadian government lobbying to address this lack of support?
  • Are you aware of any other communities that offer full-service like those found in Port Coquitlam and Richmond, B.C.?


November 6, 2016

#508 – Architectually and Accessibly Speaking


As you may or may not know, this blog has recently been revived. Below, is an excerpt from a Twitter conversation I had saved, but never published.

I didn’t know about the public hearings prior to construction of the Grandview Aquatic Centre, but if I had, I would have added my voice.

It’s tough enough when you move through the world differently, whether it be in a wheelchair, with a cane, or on your own steam.

When architects and communities get it right, the system blurs the lines between the able-bodied and those who live with a disability – the diffabled. At first glance, the Walking Disabled may present the appearance that there is nothing wrong. As a result, people zoom to assume – judgement can be quick. “You don’t look disabled, why do you need extra help/special assistance?” What they may not realize is that a hip replacement, dislocated fingers, or painful joints make it difficult to do some of those “ordinary” things.

The Corporation of Delta got it right in with the ramp in The Sunshine Pool at Sungod Recreation Centre. During my swims, I’ve seen people use the ramps in a number of different ways – in wheelchairs and with canes. Young and old, able-bodied and diffabled. They’ve all spent time on the ramp. Then, there’s me. I jump into the pool in the deep end and use the ramp to get out of the pool. I don’t have to call anyone for help, I just get out.

Isn’t that the pinnacle of self-reliance? Architectural designs that don’t require “special” assistance or attention in order to be accessible.

April 2, 2013

#439 – Gas and Ulnar Drift

gasnozzleSince I’m not always able to drive to Richmond to fill up at their wonderful full-serve gas stations, and I’m not willing to be extorted at the full service bay, I usually fill up my gas tank myself.

In Canada, unlike in the United States, we need to apply continuous pressure on the trigger of the gas nozzle to maintain the flow of gas. The amount of pressure required to squeeze the trigger is not only hard to do, but tends to accentuate ulnar drift—the swelling in the MCP joints (big knuckles of the hand) causes the fingers to drift towards the baby finger.

I’ve found that when I turn my back to the car, and face the pump, it is easier on my hand. Then when I squeeze the lever, it appears to counter-act the tendency to push my fingers into an ulnar drift.

If you do try this, please let me know if it makes fueling up a little easier for you.


March 5, 2013

#418 – Open for Business

Image courtesy of Michael Lorenzo.

Image courtesy of Michael Lorenzo.

If you run a bricks and mortar business or service, here are some things to check on that will make a difference in the life of someone who struggles to get in, get out and get doing. Some of these ideas are pretty easy to accomplish, others take time, money and thought,

  1. If your building is accessible by an automatic door, make sure the button to open the door is operational.
  2. The doors to handicapped washrooms are often very heavy. Consider putting in some sort of push button system to open them.
  3. Are you putting in stairs to access a parking lot? A ramp is so much more versatile and accessible for everyone. (Watch for a future post, where I’ll share the success (or failure) of my attempt to advocate for a ramp at a nearby mall.)
  4. Are you opening a new office in an existing space? The requirements of your population  may not adequately be covered by existing legislation. Make some time to talk with the associations and societies that service various groups. Read some blogs to find out what needs are being expressed.
  5. Keep your check-out counter clear of clutter, so that a purse/wallet could be opened. I’ve heard moms, seniors and mobility-challenged people all express their frustration at the lack of space at the cashier’s desk. This also applies to the shelf at the bank machine, as well as the envelope holder.
  6. Many businesses have mats at the front door. These often present tripping hazards because they are curled up or in bad shape. They should be regularly checked throughout the day.
  7. Are you putting in a couch or chairs for your customers or clients? Ensure that the seat cushions are firm, and not so low to the floor that you practically need a hoist to get up.
  8. Teach and empower your employees to err on the side of kindness and consideration. If someone asks for help opening a water bottle, or carrying an item to the car, assume that she is asking because it is difficult for her to do. (It’s hard enough asking for help on a continual basis, without then having to explain oneself, over and over again.)
  9. Comment cards can provide insight into the needs of your customers and clients, provided that you read them. Feedback can help hone/define/improve your services and accessibility. Unfortunately, this one fell on deaf ears – pun intended. But, I like to think that this one made a difference.)

The other thing to keep in mind is that accessibility is not only for someone who is disabled or diffabled. Parents minding their children, someone who may be in a situation that is acute—temporary, or seniors, many of whom need a little extra time and help, would all benefit from these modifications.

There’s an African proverb that states that it takes a village to raise a child. I also think that it takes a village to improve the lot for all of us who live in that village.  We may end up being the person who benefits. I recall someone I know who vociferously complained about handicapped parking . . . until he was suddenly thrust into the position of requiring it.

You’ll never know when things can change, and you or a family member might be requiring services that were previously not in your vocabulary.

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