Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Accessible Vegas

My law practice has been taking me to Las Vegas of all places over the last few months. With two cases, one in federal and one in state Nevada Courts I have to physically appear before a judge from time to time. The trips are usually as short as reasonably possible. We arrive, stay at a hotel, do what we came to do and leave soon after. My co-counsel rents a car at the airport and usually takes us to our destination. While I do have cousins in Vegas I usually don't get them involved. I'm there to do work, not to have fun or spend time with family and I need to keep it professional. Also, this is the time I'm paid to devote to a case. Our interaction with the actual city is kept to a minimum. What I didn't know- is how Las Vegas - known for being tourist orientated- prides itself on being disability friendly. If this is widely advertised I have certainly missed the memo - and visitors in wheelchairs like myself should be certainly made aware that they can easily get around by grabbing a cab off the street. Granted, I never had to get one before, so I never considered it as a form of transportation, so perhaps this is not a new thing- but considered me impressed. There's a first time for everything, right? Here's what happened: As my co-counsel and I were arriving from different parts of Florida, her flight was three hours+ later than mine. What we haven't caught in time was, that as we used different airlines, we'd fly into different terminals as well. Although she asked me to wait for her in the passenger pick up area, we did not expect that getting the car from the agency would take another two hours as well. The heavy luggage on my lap made me slow and pretty immobile, so I was just focused on getting to the place where she could find me. I was cold, as the temperature was below freezing, but determined - as she was texting me updates. Then she told me it would take even longer and I should consider taking a taxi. How would I do that, I thought, I wouldn't even know where to start finding accessible transport. I can't easily move back with that extremely heavy bag on my lap. At first I thought, I'd soldier on. I wasn't comfortable, but I felt I should just wait. I considered every move against how much of a bother it would be. One of the wheelchair pushers saw me on his way back and asked me if I needed anything. I told him I needed a taxi. No problem, he said. Turns out wheelchair accessible taxis drive around town like regular cabs, he just needed to flag one down for me. Two minutes later I was getting loaded up. It had a ramp and a bit of a pit in the back so I was seated at an angle. And it was all that he needed to do. No ordering of a service or calling anyone in advance. No bother. The staff at Tropicana, which is one of the older casinos was also very professional. They helped me out of the cab and to my room with my bag. Everyone made me feel at ease. I worried for nothing- and when you have to have to sit around, thinking about what it's gonna be like it can ruin the entire experience. Now I know I have options. And it makes me feel empowered. It makes sense. Vegas main industry is gambling and tourism. It's about making people come, explore, stay and return. And part of that mission is making people with disabilities welcome as well.

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