Why Barriers Suck And You Don’t Care, BUT…

…how you can use your voice for good and change that.

Before we go further, I wanna be clear about something: this post isn’t only for Rollers. After all, to create Universal Design, in other words, Accessibility, we need Walkers too.

Ok, now that this mere formality is out of the way, let’s proceed:

A lot of Earthlings tell me they love my photographs and that the landscape is so beautiful.

And I agree completely!

You know what else is beautiful besides the appearance?

The location and accessibility!

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Barrier-free Entrance

Most cities and villages in Germany have their own Stadtpark, which means word by word “City’s Park”. This is the one of the small town I’m currently living in, Limbach-Oberfrohna.

Today I wanna share with you why I choose to shoot most of my photos at this park.

First of all, it’s only 5 minutes by rolls from our flat. It’s a small park but if compared to the ones we have in my hometown in Brazil, I’d say it’s big. It has a parking lot, a barrier-free restaurant and coffee place, a barrier-free little zoo where they rescue some of the animals, and the park itself is barrier-free and with large passages. And I’m sure it doesn’t go unnoticed how stunning and well taken care of it is.

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L.-O. is a small town so even on the weekends the park doesn’t get too crowded (at least, the times we went). Nevertheless, whenever we can, we prefer going on weekdays for photo shooting. You’ve seen the Stadtpark on Spring, Summer and Autumn throughout my posts and yes, it’s even better live.

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Summer 2017 Panorama
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Autumn 2017 Panorama

I wish I had thought of this idea before because then I could have captured more in the video. What my husband and I put together on this short film it’s just a part of our personal collection from my last two photo shoots. Still, I really hope you like it!

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I understand that you might think this post is focused only for Rollers like me. And honestly, when I was a Walker myself I didn’t even stop to think about why it’s a problem when places are hard to access because the doors are too narrow, or there are steps or stairs and no elevator, or the bathroom is small, or the street is uneven and so on.

But think with me here, why is important that everyone should care about it?

Well, first whoever wants to build a public space — schools, universities, restaurants, offices in general, pubs, bars, you name it. And especially public agencies should care. Because, you know, we also go out and consume stuff! We have errands to roll (😂), food and clothes to buy, work and school to go to and we wanna have fun and leisure time as well.

When we don’t live close to someone who has a disability and needs the accessibility, we don’t really think about them. It’s like that old adage: “What the eyes don’t see, the heart can’t feel”. I know it’s a harsh thing to say but it’s a fact. However, we could change that fact!

Often more than less, folks are surprised to see us Rollers going to university, or make groceries and they get shocked when they see us at a nightclub! They believe we’re so inspiring but that doesn’t even touch how we feel when we’re enabled by the establishment and its people to do these things.

When you place a narrow door or stairs on your restaurant, you’re taking away a fundamental human right from someone with a disability. You’re unknowingly (I hope) saying: “There’s no place for you here.”, “You can’t enter here.”

Maybe we can find a way around the stairs to enter but it’s NO FUN. Not for us who dressed all nice and will get messed up and not fun for who carries us and our 140 kg powered rolling chairs inside and will be breathing their lungs out, at least that’s my personal opinion. And we might not say it out loud but it’ll hurt our pride, too.

Second, whoever plans and designs those places: the Architects and Interior Designers. I love you. I mean, I wanted to be one of you when I was younger. I think it’s beautiful how you can create spaces, it’s an Art. But it’s also your responsibility to have the Universal Design in mind when creating public spaces. Bring the awareness to your contractors and projects. If they say no, shame on them but at least, do your part.

And third, WE! We Rollers, we differently-abled, we people with disabilities. We can’t be afraid to speak up! We’re the ones who face those challenges every day. We can’t blame folks for not knowing what they don’t know.

Let me write again because it’s that important:

We can’t blame folks for not knowing what they don’t know.

It’s our responsibility to be the messengers of the information. With compassion and love. Remember that for Walkers is all very new. Make yourself available and open for questions, sometimes quite simple ones that are second nature to us — but not to them.

And Walkers: I invite you to care. Consider entering the conversation and the Movement, we truly need you. Be curious. Be compassionate. Be respectful.

I wanna leave you, no matter who you are, with this quote that has been leading everything I’ve been creating in the past year and continues to do so:

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Now, I’d love to hear from you!

Write me in the comments one place in your town that’s in a much-needed accessibility makeover? Then share this link on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with your answer. Maybe some establishment owners will pay attention to how important it is.

If you don’t have the money or a lot of time, use your voice and your platform for good. Because yes, social media is your platform.

AND

What did you think about the video? I’d be happy to make some short films for you, just let me know in the comments.

With all my love,

Lina

Hand-picked Articles at Stadtpark in Other Seasons:

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lina-levien-stadtpark-spring

lina-levien-stadtpark-summer

lina-levien-stadtpark-autumn

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