Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ce n'est pas possible

Well bonjour. It is difficult to know where to start this blog. I suspect it will move from a rant to a French farce. You see, the French have a very different attitude to people with disabilities to that which I am accustomed. The attitude is sympathetic for the person's plight, but equally insistent that it shouldn't interrupt the sympathiser's day.
The title of this blog says it all, 'ce n'est pas possible' - it's not possible. I have learnt this phrase well, and it is usually said with a shrug, and a turn away. I've heard it when trying to access floors at museums with a broken elevator, when trying to get on the wheelchair accessible bus with a 'broken' ramp (nb 2 drove past before a non-broken ramp was available), and today, when asking for the shop assistant to get a specific print from the upstairs floor of a shop (which had an elevator, but it was locked).
Now, I've been to inaccessible countries before (yes, I'm looking at you Vietnam and Timor Leste), but at least they are honest with their inaccessibility. The difficulty I have had in France, Paris in particular, is that they indicate access, but frequently access is blocked off, broken, or just not there. In all cases, the simple answer is 'ce n'est pas possible'. In a developed country, in the 21st century, when the World Health Organisation promotes participation for all, is it ok to respond to a lack of autonomy, contribution and participation in one's community with a simple 'it's not possible'? I would think not.
Rant over. I promise funny stories next time... Unless ce n'est pas possible

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