Sunday, 20 March 2011

Ch1: Many Ways To Access

We've seen that the physical state of physical accessibility in Rio de Janeiro isn't great. But my idea of an imagination is to look at other ways of doing things.

First I should stress that Brazilians really are quite helpful. Or, to put it better, the people that I met (and me too) find that when we needed help from strangers in Rio de Janeiro, they are very good at giving it. In interviews people downplayed the explicit prejudice they would encounter, and emphasized the positive aspects. Rio de Janeiro is a place where if it looks like you need help, people will offer. Brazilians are surprised when they go to Europe and when someone that has an accident on the streets they see that others don't run to help.

When I was asked how the accessibility was at my university, I had to say well, it's pretty rubbish in physical terms (big steps, a massive flight of them down to where we needed to do xerox-ing) but pretty good in human terms (people were helpful, and several helped with my xerox-ing, for example).

Before any of Rio's buses were accessible, chumbados still got about using them. To go to university Matheus would go with a helper. The helper would lift him in, fold up Matheus' chair and then go up himself; and to go out to the same in reverse. I'm not saying that this situation is great; I am saying that there are many ways to deal with and transform physical situations.

My final note is that people have different requirements. A university (UERJ) has ramps and lifts and so forth; I thought it was pretty accessible. To my surprise, Gabriela told me that "they didn't make the university for disabled people. They made it for athletes". With crutches the ramps and walking were difficult for her; and she had to use the service elevator (which she had to shout for, because there wasn't a button) because the normal elevators didn't stop on every floor. Other people who used the university had other issues; the type of desk they needed, for example, and the trouble in arranging that.

What is marked as "accessible", even in purely physical terms -- an entrance, a bathroom, a building, a bus -- might well be far from being so for many people. Accessibility is a complex affair.

No comments:

Post a Comment