Nfld. & Labrador·Access Denied

Highlights from CBC NL's in-depth series on accessibility

There's lots of buzz about our Access Denied series — if you missed any of it, here are just some of the stories from our special coverage.

From a rude encounter to the difference that good design makes

The Access Denied series explored mobility issues, accessible workplaces, the pursuit of an acting career, and an unpleasant encounter with a man who accused a visually-impaired woman of not being blind. (CBC)

As our in-depth series Access Denied comes to a close, here's a chance to catch up on some of the stories we've presented during our exploration of accessibility issues for people who have disabilities.

We started our coverage by showing the difficulties that people with mobility problems experience in their day-to-day lives. 

From trying to get up the ramp at Mile One Centre in St. John's, to using public washrooms, to a blue zone parking meter that was actually taller than a standard meter, the barriers were numerous.

That ramp at Mile One Centre was built to code. And so was this public washroom we featured. 

That was one of the key things our series revealed — following the rules hasn't been enough to guarantee accessibility. 

Some of the existing regulations in this province are so outdated they're actually impediments to accessibility. 

The provincial government is moving to change that. 

New regulations will be in effect within eight months for new construction as well as any major renovations, which will mean accessible washroom stalls will have to be bigger, and ramp grades will have to be less steep. 

Accessibility issues in the workplace

CBC St. John's is not immune when it comes to accessibility.

We invited College of the North Atlantic journalism student and wheelchair user Jonathon Pittman to come here and tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly about getting around our building.

Contrast some of the deficiencies he experienced in the building to what Thomas Rogers encountered at Husky Energy's offices on Water Street in St. John's.

The company incorporated many elements of universal design. It even has a right-to-light policy, where desks are laid out so that as many employees as possible can share the natural daylight and the views of the harbour. 

Attitudes have to change 

From that high to a low point: Attitudes still have a long way to go. 

We were surprised to capture an incident on tape in which a man seems to accuse Anne Malone, who is visually impaired, of not actually being blind.  

Malone said that sort of thing happens frequently. Complete strangers also drum up impromptu vision tests to try to figure out how much she can see.  

Big dreams

Gary Hall is another person who shared his experiences with us — and his dream of being onstage. 

Hall said he believes he's the first person in a wheelchair to appear on the CBC series, Republic of Doyle

He'd give anything to be in the limelight again.

Disabilities and romance

But another person we interviewed requested that her identity be protected. 

"Suzie", as we called her, is a sex worker. 

She and Heather Jarvis of the Safe Harbour Outreach Project spoke about the alienation and loneliness that some people with disabilities experience when it comes to romance.

They said some sex workers are in the business because they, too, live with disabilities. The job can provide good pay and flexible hours. 

Making a change

The series also looked at what we could do as individuals to be more accommodating to others' needs. Here are just a few of the things we can all do right now to improve accessibility in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

If you or your company or your family, friends, colleagues, or community group take any steps to make Newfoundland and Labrador more inclusive, we'd love to know about it. Contact Ramona Dearing on Twitter: @RamonaDearing.

About the Author

Ramona Dearing

Ramona Dearing has worked as a reporter, host and producer at CBC's St. John's bureau.