Mobilize March -- Travel Blog

Day 19 — I have become one with the cell phone

This morning the plan was simple–get up, get dressed, look presentable, and wow the CBC film crew who were going to show up at 11am. Everything went down according to plan, perfectly, except that last part. Unfortunately, the CBC crew were a bit short handed today and couldn’t make the run out to the east end of Toronto, plus they wanted a bit more time to research the story. However, the reporter was quite apologetic and explained that they’re really stoked to do a story about what I’m doing and excited to draw attention to the transportation situation. All great news! From this point on, my cell phone would be literally ringing off the hook for the rest of the day.

First I got a call from who I can only presume is a member of the CBC radio team (I was a little confused when someone else called from CBC immediately after I hung up the phone) expressing interest in the story and explaining the producer would be in touch sometime early next week: awesome.

It wasn’t long after that I received a call from Matt, a member of Leeanna’s team in Toronto, confirming details for Monday morning. Matt, explained how things are going to work and warned that we should be ready for a boring and dry question period but to be honest (and expose myself for the nerd that I am) I’m kind of excited to get into Queens Park and see first hand how things operate–see what the camera’s don’t show us. Granted, it won’t be a Toronto Raptors game…although I do fully expect John Tory to take the ball downtown all morning, pulling off some totally righteous slam dunks or maybe an Ally-Oop pass to Howard Hampton. I just hope I can find a vendor to sell me a giant foam “We’re #1″ fingers.

Shortly there after (by this point I’m starting to get cell-phone elbow) I finally link up with my friend Catherine Frazee, a disability studies professor at Ryerson and all-star disability advocate, and as it turns out, tomorrow there is a big event going down at the Royal Ontario Museum and Catherine is in need of some extra hands (or mouths, as it turns out). So, I will be at the Royal Ontario Museum tomorrow for the “Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember” (link here) special speaker Georgina Kleege. After her presentation, my task, which I accepted anxiously and excitedly, is to help individuals with visual impairments experience the exhibit by reading a custom-written description of one of the exhibits. My job will be to explain the exhibit dedicated to Jim Derksen, a scrappy disability activist who was instrumental in lobbying for many of the legislation that provide the Mobilize March with important legal foundations. I’m absolutely honoured that Catherine would think of me to help out with this and cannot wait!

If this wasn’t enough excitement for one day, I also received a call this afternoon from the Directorate of Disability, a wing of the Ontario Government dedicated to implementing AODA legislation, who have invited me to come and chat sometime later next week. This will be a really good opportunity to hear more about what the government is doing right now to improve accessibility and for me to express how we desperately need improved accessible transportation standards.

Finally, what better way to cap a day off than with a phone call from the Lt. Governor of Ontario? A representative from the Honourable David Onley’s office called this afternoon on my personal cell phone…apparently the Queen is keeping tabs on me!. Unfortunately, I haven’t been keeping my personal phone on, to avoid a ridiculous long distance bill, and when I discovered I had missed a call the office had already closed. I’m curious to hear what is brewing over at the Lt. Governor’s office!

Monday can’t come soon enough!

– Jeff

By Jeffrey Preston

Born with a rare neuromuscular myopathy, Jeff has spent his life dedicated to advocating for himself and others with disabilities. With a PhD in Media Studies from Western University, Jeff's research focuses on the representation of disability in popular and digital culture. Jeff is currently an Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at King's University College @ Western University in London, ON.