Disclaimer: The attitudes, ideas, and comments in this post do not necessary reflect the opinions of Beyond Adversity or its board members, advisers, employees, volunteers, donors, or sponsors. Rich Donnovan’s article was included because it addresses a topic relevant to this blog — travel after adversity — in a humorous and thought provoking way.
Excerpt of article by Rich Donovan | disabilityHorizon
My wife (Jenn) and I decided to visit Paris for a much needed vacation. Beautiful surroundings, great food/wine, and our first bonding time away from our 15 month old son.
Imagine my surprise when I was denied access to the top of the Eiffel Tower, specifically because of my disability. I was told that due to a French/Parisian law, I was only permitted to visit the second floor. The apparent rationale is that if power was to be lost, or an emergency occur, it would be ‘difficult’ for me to walk down the 1050 stairs from the top. The tower is accessible. Elevators, lifts and ramps are all over the joint. France apparently decided altitude is dangerous for me. C’est ridicule, non?
I’m a fairly level-headed guy, so I calmly repeated my desire to a couple senior security professionals. I was given the same answer, that due to French/Parisian law and for my own safety I would not be permitted to the top, as any member of the public with 13 Euros is permitted to do. They would gladly ‘permit’ me to go to the second floor, which is 39% of the way to the top floor, even offering to comp the entry fee. How nice of them? One problem — I’ve never done anything at 39%, and wasn’t about to start now.
After the fourth denial, my wife started to cry, and this caused my head to explode. My voice was raised, yet my words were chosen carefully. We attracted a crowd, including seven security guards and three men in combat fatigues carrying German-made sub-machine guns.
I’ve visited the CN Tower in Toronto. I’ve climbed Mont St-Michel in Normandy. I’ve been to the top of the Empire State Building in New York, Gerkin in London, and the Peace Tower in Ottawa. Jenn and I got engaged at the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. I skipper 50-ft sailboats, on the open ocean. I’ve never come close to the lunacy I experienced at the Eiffel Tower, the state telling me that I cannot do something everyone else can because I walk with a wobble.
As a person with a disability, I face the attitude that I am a second-class member of society every day of my life. I expect that on the streets and in daily competition for scarce resources. I certainly did not expect this while visiting the national icon of a country that has signed international treaties celebrating human rights and the idea of equal opportunity for all.
Let me be clear, save for our Eiffel experience, I love Paris. It is a beautiful city, and its people are wonderful. That said, the situation at Eiffel Tower trumps my affection for the city.
Paris, you made my wife cry. This is not good, and you must make it right. I propose that you fly her back to Paris, first class. Put her up in the most accessible Presidential Suite in the city. Invite her to the Top of the Eiffel Tower where the Mayor of Paris will apologize for such a poor customer experience. By the way, change that law first . . . she won’t come without me.
To view the complete article written by Donovan, click here.
Thanks to Rich Donovan for writing the article; disabilityHorizon for sharing the post; Madelaine Sayko for sharing the article with me; and all the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible to include the pictures and text in this post.