In the last weeks, I have been trying to tie up loose ends with regards to work in order to have the next month or so relatively free. Mostly, I have been working on the government of Québec accessibility standard project, for which I have contributed research and expertise as part of an advance team of consultants (comprised of Denis Boudreau, Jean-Marie D’amour and myself, with input from representatives of the government) mandated to write up an initial proposal of requirements which the government people will now run with internally (gawd help us all). This has been quite an eye-opening experience on several fronts but I will try to write about the whole process at a later date when I have more time and perspective.
Well, it is that time of year again, the time when everybody thinks back to that fateful September day five years ago when all hell broke loose.
As usual, I was probably one of the last people to know. I had been working from home that day, buried in ridiculous deadlines, and since I do not watch much television and have always had a real aversion to news, I had not heard anything about it. That night, I headed out to my usual haunt to unwind, a neighbourhood resto-bar that I spent way too much time in, not to mention money. As I sat down at the bar, I noticed how quiet everyone was. There was no friendly chatter, no lame sexist remarks from the usual cast of characters, no “lets see who can get drunk the fastest”, no laughing, no yelling at the waitress. Only a palpable feeling of shock in the air as everybody just kind of stared vacantly at the television bolted to the ceiling in the corner over an old freezer where they kept the ice cream. The television kept running the same images over and over again but the sound was turned off so it still meant nothing to me.
At one point, I asked the owner what was going on, why everyone looked so “décrissé“. He looked at me like I had antennas growing out of my forehead and said with a hint of disbelief “What ?? You did not hear about the terrorist attacks ?! They blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon…” For a few seconds, I thought he was kidding; he always liked to joke around though he rarely managed to be funny. But I soon realised he was dead serious. I finished my drink quickly and headed home, turned on the television and spent the rest of the night sitting there, just soaking it all in, trying to understand why anyone would do something like that. But regardless of the explanations that followed over the next days, weeks, months, the rationalisations, the finger-pointing, the lies and half truths, there is no real answer to why bipeds hurt each other. We just do.
I came across this article (edit: no longer available) the other day in the online edition of the Toronto Star about the impact of new flying restrictions on persons with disabilities. I kind of figured that this latest modern-day obsession would just make things even more complicated for those who already have to put up with more than enough weirdness and frustration when travelling.
I have not flown much; a few times to Los Angeles for the CSUN conference and twice last year to Winnipeg and Tunis for conferences related to the Word Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). These last two trips could not have been more different. When I flew to Winnipeg, I was walking with the help of an artificial leg. However, while travelling to Tunisia six months later, I ended up having to use my motorised wheelchair due to health problems.