I promised in my blog last week that I would spend this week recounting stories from our recent trip to Cleveland. And because I am not the greatest travel writer (my mother inherited that trait in our family) I have decided to do it as a top three things that I learned in Cleveland, with a bit of disability positive twist.
Firstly, there was the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. On our last trip to Cleveland last year, Natalie and I learned that when you return from that fair city, the number one question you get asked is “did you go to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame?” And so this time, we figured we should be able to answer yes to that question from now on. Although I consider myself a classic rock fan and was raised on a steady diet of Beatles and Stones, music is not a huge part of my life these days. So the exhibits themselves, while they were certainly cool and neat to look at, did not blow me away. However, in terms of accessibility, I was highly impressed. I also loved the fact that everyone who works there truly looks like they should be. It was as if they cast several former roadies to staff the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and that, in itself, was worth it.
Second, I learned that 26 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act has made a difference to the country. It is not perfect and anyone in the Sates who is reading this blog may disagree with me. I will say, though, that the customer service and physical accessibility that we experienced during our four day stay in Cleveland made me feel welcome. It was present in a way that you don't often find in Canada, even in terms of the hotel or the escape room (if anyone doesn't know what one of these is, Google it) that we visited while we were there. It made a big difference to the way that I experienced Cleveland and the positives that I took from it as a city as a whole.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I learned that my message is very important. The speaking engagement that we were there to do went over fantastically well. People really responded to what Natalie and I were saying and it seemed to really resonate with the audience. We got tons of positive feedback after the event and have since had multiple emails telling us how great it was. This demonstrates to me that audiences need and want what I am offering. As an entrepreneur, that is hugely exciting. But as a disability activist, it tells me that I am on the right path. Disability cannot always be about challenges and struggles. It needs to also be about power, positive identities and fun too. That is the core thing I learned from four days in Cleveland.
For more video evidence of our trip, and a full video recap check out our brand-new YouTube channel that Natalie and I started, aptly named "Our Wheel World". Click this link - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClPrlCI6l-RAEAdjgfDtIOg - watch them and subscribe for more disability positive content on the cyber airwaves. Enjoy!