Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

Is this your day job? 2

I had a funny conversation on the phone today. You see, I’m planning a workshop for builders/building officials or people who are interested in renovating or building a new space  – all around the idea of accessibility (of course). I’m hosting the event at Cowbell (the most accessible place around) with the sponsorship help of Ontario Home Health in Stratford. There seems to be quite a bit of interest in this event, so I need to make sure that all expenses are covered. In order to do so I contacted the other business in the area that provides mobility aids (like scooters) to see if they would be interested in attending and helping out. He agreed to match the other donation and in doing so Mediox Mobility in Goderich has helped me cover all my food costs – which is great!

Before I got off the phone with him he asked me if I did “this” (giving accessibility workshops) as my day job. This really made me laugh – I said no, this was just one of my volunteer activities, my end goal of helping people understand what’s behind the accessibility laws.

Helping understand what’s behind them. Why? So that all people can go out of their house, to eat, see a show, shop, and know that when they need to use a bathroom or get in and out of a store – they will be able to do so safely.

I really feel like I am saying this not for the first time.

Yet another example…

Last night I went out with some friends for dinner and, of course, I had to use the bathroom. The place we were at had bathroom doors too narrow for my chair to get through. Thank goodness my friends are a bunch of willing, problem solving, action taking women, one went to the restaurant next door and one ran down the street to see if the public bathrooms were open (it’s winter, you never know). We found a bathroom that I could manage in. I had to put on my coat and mitts, get pushed through the snow, lifted up an 8″ step into the neighbouring restaurant, travel through the patrons (playing trivia) who all looked at me like I was from another planet, go down the back hall to the bathroom. All while my dinner was getting cold.

Without going into details, I say “manage” because it was less than ideal. The toilet was so far away from the wall (where the bar – at a 45 degree angle – was) that my friend could stand between the toilet and the wall and neither of her hips touched. I wish I had taken a picture. It was completely useless to anyone, unless, you wanted to hang your coat.


So no, this is not my day job, but it could be. If I could be paid to show the owner of every bathroom how to set it up properly, I’d be rich. But of course no one wants to pay for that kind of advice. They’d mostly rather not think about it. This is why I am presenting a free workshop. I want to force people to think about it. I want people to know that the decisions they make for others have enormous ramifications. For safety, for comfort, and for just getting the hell out of the house to see some friends and eat good food.

To register for this free workshop email your name, number and town to

Although this is not the bathroom from last night, it is one of the craziest setups I have seen. See if you can find all the mistakes!


  • Edwin Kent Gillin says:

    Hi Julie…You may not remember me but I x country skied a few years ago with you, Con Melady and Sandy Edelsard at the Golf Course outside of Clinton at the Woodlands Golf Course. Anyway, I am always intrigued with accessibility issues and have a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences from Western. If you ever need any assistance from a research or resource end of things to assist in accomplishing accessibility challenges…I am at your service… free of charge and retired but still active in the research world. Best wishes to you and your family… E. Kent Gillin

  • Ernest Dow says:

    Even just simple strategically placed hand rails in toilet stalls would make such a difference in many instances. Thanks for being an advocate!

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