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In the videos and text below are the experiences of people who live with a disability. A wide spectrum of disabilities is represented: physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological and combinations of these. As every person is different, so is each disability, its effects on an individual, and how we manage our lives.
To access closed captioning in videos below, click on the wheel symbol in the lower right corner of each video below. To view videos full screen, click on the box-like symbol in the lower right corner. Click on lower left corners of videos to start. Volume button is to right of Start button.
Jennifer Allen on Montreal's inaccessible streets and their impact on her free spirit.
Harriet Sandell talks adapted transport, taxi and sidewalk frustrations, accessible shopping.
Jamie Wright is tired of Montreal's back alley ramps (IF there's a ramp), & trying to get into venues like everyone else.
Mody Barry, Director of Handicap Action Integration (click link), discusses sourcing assistive devices not provided by Quebec's medical system, Ramq.
Charlie Sivuarapi discusses road hazards, the railroad tracks in Old Port Montreal and their exceptional danger to people with various disabilities. Learn more by clicking Barriers.
Paul Fagan discusses his decades of advocacy and the dilemma of being denied basic amenities.See an example of an "accessible" washroom by clicking Barriers.
Paul Walton on fake accessibility. WTH?
See the impossible sidewalks that keep Paul from simple errands and outings, and require lengthy detours in bad weather. Click Barriers.
Maria Lango talks about being unable to shop at her favorite stores, and isolation. And Montreal needs accessible beaches. (click link for an assessment of Verdun Beach, under Barriers)
Sandra Molloy discusses creating universal accessibility and fat shaming as a societally accepted form of hate speech.
Paolo discusses finding accessible venues---or using freight elevators and being carried up the stairs.

Read more stories below.
Sandro François on the challenges of invisible disability and how one size does not fit all.
Ivo Rotili has discovered the significant difference that caring support makes to his employability and self confidence.
Aimee Louw, co-founder of Accessibilize Montreal, on #YourBestCripLife. What accessibility means to her, and imagining ourselves into a world equitable to all. Aimee is a nationally renowned journalist, and documents personal experiences of ableism and access across Canada in her multi-media project, Underwater City (click link).
Fahad on living with a disability and the fear of racist violence, whether it's at worship or in his local park.
Maggie Cross on adapted and accessible work places and restaurants. See the ludicrous "accessible" washroom she discusses, at Carlos & Peppy's. Click Barriers.
Natasha Zielinski on how privacy/boundary issues and judgment can create barriers.
Cindy McKay on invisible disabilities and infantilization. See the hazardous sidewalks that keep her from visiting her local library, cultural and recreation centres by clicking Barriers.
Patrick Dumont has been fighting for repairs to the ramp in front of his North Montreal home for five years. Upon visiting his building, I found both the ramp and surrounding sidewalks in hazardous conditions.  (Click link for Barriers)

Note: I discovered Patrick lives in a private building, and needs to pursue the management and possibly the Regie du Logement for repairs. His day program would not pass this information to him, and clearly, the City does not provide this information when he calls.
Kenny Rasmussen is grateful for the friends he makes at his day program, and the acceptance he finds. We need more of these programs.

He Just Wanted a Day in the Park
"I'd rather not be filmed or give my name, but this happened to me. I wanted to spend a day in Parc Angrignon. Just hanging out by myself in Nature, you know? I called the City, and they told me it was fully wheelchair accessible.

I was sick of waiting for adapted transit. Of course we know the Metro is inaccessible. So I used a month's treat money and called an Uber. Well, the ramped entrance off theTrinitaires parking lot into the parc looked fine, and there was an accessible water fountain.

But the accessible toilet is up on a curb. How was I supposed to use it? So, I ended up pissing my pants. In the heat. The Uber who picked me up told me and the company I 'smell like a homeless guy' and he dropped me off on a transit line. Which of course was miserable, too. People stared and no one would sit near me.

I called the City, and they won't take any responsibility. I'm out $40, my whole month's entertainment money on disability assistance. I'm too embarrassed to call Uber again."~JL
Photo above: Outdoor toilet in Parc Angrignon, marked with the disability vignette. Toilet sits on top of curb, no ramp. No way to open door unless tilting chair forward over curb. Toilet sits at an angle away from walkway level. Even if you had help, you and your helper would have to angle your chair.

Photos by Reisa Stone for RAMP

Photo above : slightly sloped, ramped entrance from parking lot.
Photo below: accessible water fountain, two levels. At first, it seems like you could have a nice day in the park.
Photo on right

She uses adapted transit to get around, ordering a ride hours or even a full day ahead. Outings must be well planned.

"Frite Alors restaurant on St. Denis told me they were accessible. I had my meal, then looked around for the washroom. Certainly, there was a sign pointing to an accessible washroom. Which was at the top of a flight of stairs. They did not seem to think there was anything strange about it.

This 'accessible but not accessible' issue seems to be prevalent around Montreal. The other one I know well, is that many people with disabilities may have accessible housing, but from their public sidewalk onwards, their neighbourhood is inaccessible. No curb cuts, no ramps to other buildings, no audible signals at crossings.

I even feel I am fortunate to have a somewhat accessible neighbourhood. Many other people become isolated from society, because they simply cannot leave their homes."

Note: upon visiting the Frite Alors on St. Denis, the entrance is now also inaccessible.

Photo above:  smiling woman with short blonde hair, glasses and black t shirt with three white cats design. Office setting with desks and computers, yellow walls.
Photo above: Simon Wong
Male with short black hair and blue sports shirt.

Photo at right: Though Simon's grocery store & pharmacy are
only a 5 minute walk, he must
cross one of the busiest intersections in Montreal, at Sherbrooke & Cavendish. There are no audible signals. His library & rec centre are also across Cavendish.  The crosswalk there is hazardous, with curb cuts. You have only 20 seconds to cross. The streets are full of orange and fluorescent yellow striped poles, as well as  yellow metal poles set into the sidewalk. There is aggressive
traffic in all directions.

Photo below:  a detail of an obstacle to crossing the intersection. 
Multiple signs & an orange warning pole.
Photo below: a side street in Simon's neighbourhood. There were so many randomly placed signs and garbage, I did not get out of my car. Garbage can & bag, No  Parking signs and confusing horizontal half barrier, all in 8 feet of sidewalk.
See more photos of Simon's neighbourhood: click Barriers.

                                                  Simon Wong
"For the most part, getting around as a blind person is challenging and stressful. I am not sure what to do about it. I’ve never been able to go anywhere, not even around the neighborhood, even when I was living with my parents, adapted transit or someone who can help me across the street, because not all street corners have audible pedestrian signals so that blind people can cross independently. Also, because of my balance issues on surfaces that are not even, it was suggested to me by the rehab centre, due to the condition of the sidewalks and the streets, it was evaluated for my safety I should use adapted transport strictly, and to practice using my cane indoors at a mall on a regular basis. But I don't go very often because I don't always have things to buy.

Don’t get me wrong, the adapted transport is a good service, but where I find its stressful is in the following incidents: It’s not really convenient to do small errands like going to the bank or pharmacy where it takes only a few minutes, the rest of the time, sometimes 2 hours is spent waiting for someone to pick you up, as you have to call in advance. Trying to get around, such as visiting someone, which I do not do so much anymore because it is long and tiring. All the road closures, construction, etc., and it’s not even guaranteed  you will get a ride on the same day. They might find a driver sometime in the afternoon. More often than not I would either be late to where I am going, miss the outing, or the ride would not show up from time to time depending on the weather. Here is a video of how adapted transit is, click here for link.

As far as going to events, finding accompaniment can be challenging because you have to call different organizations that help blind people well in advance. If you are lucky there might be someone available. If not, you miss out on the activity.

I am trying to look for another place to live. I live in what they call an assisted living place.
These resources manage a group of accessible apartments and offer 24/7 home care services. All meals are taken in a common room. Tenants must be out of their apartments 2 to 3 days a week for activities outside.

The people who live here are not allowed to do any kind of cooking, just warming up snacks or prepared meals, or tea. I feel very isolated where I live, being the only blind person here. The others who live here have different disabilities and illnesses. The majority can see, so they do not really relate to what I feel from day to day. The people I know who are blind live in other parts of the city, so it’s not always possible to hang out with them.

Thanks to the help of one of the members of one of the organizations I belong to, I managed to get some info about how to apply for housing through the Quebec Foundation for the Blind. I managed to get some help filling out their housing form have no idea if they received it. One of the criteria is to be independent or to find outside services to help. I tried outside sources such as Aide Maison and Cheque Emploi services, but when I try to find out how to access these, I either have no idea of who to talk to or I am back to getting no replies to my calls or emails."

Note from Reisa Stone, RAMP: I tried calling Aide Maison and Cheque Emploi. These are City of Montreal and Quebec government agencies. I am sighted and a journalist. I too, could not locate specific people to speak with, and sat on hold for many minutes. These are 311 and 211 numbers. I could not locate phone numbers specific to these organizations. Re: construction. Simon is correct. Construction in Montreal goes on indefinitely, with little noticeable improvement. Citizens are not informed of its start or finish, or its purpose. There is no signage explaining anything, and it is haphazard. Quebec pays 37% more for roadwork than comparable projects in other provinces.

C's Story

"I'm nearly 30, and live with my parents. I'm not allowed to go anywhere except a few hours a week to my day program. We live outside Montreal, where there is no adapted transport and no public transit into the city. I am not allowed to make my own decisions. I am not even allowed to go on the outdoor events with my disability program, like picnics and the park. I am not allowed to go to the beach or the mall. I stay in the house unless my parents decide to drive me.

I would like to have my own place in Montreal, but my parents would be angry if I filled out a housing application. I visited a group home and really liked it, but they won't let me apply. They monitor everything I do, everyone I contact.

I dropped out of school in grade 5. I guess I have a learning disability. I would like to have some education and I'd really like to travel. Mainly, I want to get out of their house and have my own place and my own life. I have seizures and kidney problems, but that can be managed.

If I applied for training or housing, my parents would be so angry. They would ground me. They give me an attitude, and would even refuse to drive me to my day program. I would have no contact with other people. Please make this anonymous. My parents will ground me if they know I talked to anyone about it."

Note: I called social services, and  the social worker said, "I refer people to resources. I am not an investigator." I could not find any service in Montreal that would check into this vulnerable man's situation.

Photo above:  smiling man wearing wire rimmed glasses, brown hair and balding, in office setting. Yellow walls. He wears a black t shirt with a "Sons of Arthritis" logo: biker skull with wings. He wears a wedding ring on a silver chain around his neck.
Frank Pinat
Photo on left

"I am an AQEIPS board member. I have what is called an 'invisible disability', which means I have lived with very painful rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years. But much of the time, I do not use a wheelchair or other device that identifies me as disabled. I find it difficult, for example, to get a much needed seat on the Metro.

I visit hospitals frequently for tests, and Montreal hospitals are mazes, with long, long walks between departments. I walked back and forth past a section three times. It had no signage to show patients where to go. I was in pain and exhausted.

These long distances between areas and lack of signage are all over the city, whether it's a hospital, a mall or even Metros labeled as accessible. For someone with chronic pain or who uses a manual wheelchair, it just adds to our pain and exhaustion. My disability is as real as one that is made visible with an assistive device."