Over at the New York Times’ Diner’s Journal blog, food critic Frank Bruni wrote an interesting piece on wheelchair accessiblity at restaurants. Here in Philly, we keep extensive tabs on wheelchair-friendly restaurants (just use the feature search on philadelphia.menupages.com), but some of the reader comments really remind us about how many restaurants ignore disabled diners. This one really touched us:
A little over six years ago I crashed on my bicycle and broke my neck. As a result, I’m what medical folks call a C-4/5 tetraplegic (which is the more linguistically accurate way of saying “quadriplegic”). I use a power wheelchair to get around these days. By no stretch am I what anybody would call a foodie, but — like most people — I enjoy going out with friends. I have several favorite places in my neighborhood (I live in Chicago) where the entrances are easily navigated, the restaurants are clean, the food is good, and the staffs are friendly. Going beyond these known quantities, though, is generally a crapshoot. In our local papers, you’re pressed to find a restaurant that doesn’t claim to be accessible, but experience has told me that what that means is wide open to interpretation. In many cases, it means that there are steps up or down, but busboys & waitstaff can be enlisted to carry you over such obstacles. (This, though, is a nonstarter for someone like me. My wheelchair alone weighs in at over 300 pounds. Throw my 130 lb. frame on top of that, and something’s going to give — either a poor worker, or some hardware on my chair.) In other cases, it means you can dine alfresco, but don’t expect to be able to get to the restroom inside.
Issues of Accessibility [NY Times]
[Image courtesy Hiroko Masuike/New York Times]