PEI

Holland College student's video rant highlights accessibility challenges

Former Easter Seals ambassador Carolyn Gallant used a lesson in marketing class to raise awareness about the accessibility issues she faces every day, creating a video rant about what it's like for her to get around Charlottetown.

'It's not so much being mad. It's just that I have to live with this every day,' says Carolyn Gallant

Carolyn Gallant has learned to navigate her way through the hallways at the Tourism and Culinary Centre in Charlottetown, and knows where to find all the doors with push buttons. (Nancy Russell/CBC)
A Holland College student with cerebral palsy used a lesson in marketing class to raise awareness about the accessibility issues she faces every day, creating a video rant about what it's like for her to get around Charlottetown.

Carolyn Gallant, a former Easter Seals Ambassador, uses either poles similar to ski poles or a wheelchair.

"I'm 22, I want to live more of a life of independence, which is not always easy when you have disabilities," Gallant said.

In the video, Gallant visits seven businesses that are difficult for her to access because they don't have ramps or push buttons on their doors.

She demonstrates what happens when she gets to a business she can't access.

"If I'm on my own, I'm left outside, usually having to wait for someone to come by. Sometimes giving up."

'We actually had to make a big scene'

I think a lot of time people don't realize what our world is like.— Carolyn Gallant

Trying to get into one restaurant in a heritage building with no ramp was a particularly personal experience.

"I was so itching to go and just wanting to be in that really old-fashioned building to have dinner with my boyfriend," she said. "We had to actually make a big scene and he had to carry me in."

Gallant said incidents like that don't make her mad, but they are frustrating.

"It's just that I have to live with this every day," she said.

"It's not like someone having a broken foot. They have to use the ramps, maybe not go to certain restaurants because they can't get in, but they can go back in after they're healed. I can't ... It's always going to be with me. I've learned to be okay with that, but give us the freedom to do what everybody else does."

Gallant's video got hundreds of shares and comments when it was posted online.

"I think a lot of time people don't realize what our world is like," she said.

'It's time to change things'

Even though the video was got a great response, Gallant realized she may have crossed the line in showing specific businesses without giving them a chance to respond.  
Carolyn Gallant uses poles or a wheelchair to get around Charlottetown. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

She has now removed the video, replacing it with a shorter one calling on government, businesses and advocacy groups to work together to make Charlottetown 100 per cent accessible.

The P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities said it's pleased with the work Gallant is doing to shine light on the issue.

Gallant, for her part, vows to continue to find new ways to raise awareness about accessibility issues in Charlottetown.

"It's time to change things," said Gallant. "It's long overdue."

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