Last Friday I went to the Museum of Science in Boston. We got there around 5 PM, which was a blessing in disguise. I had spent the day waiting for my friends to get their shit together so at first, I was upset about the timing. When it was obvious that we basically had every exhibit to ourselves I was thrilled. No crowds and no yelling children. It was the best way to enjoy the museum since my days sleeping over as a girl scout.
There was one thing that amplified my gratefulness, this was my first time going out in a wheelchair. I’ve been unable to walk for around three months, but the few times I have gone out have all been designed around sitting. I have spent a long time lugging myself around on crutches. A visit to a museum is the most active adventure I have attempted and in turn, it required more assistance.
I was lucky. My boyfriend was happy to push me around for the entire evening. He went to the staff to get a wheelchair and he stayed with me all night. It was great to have someone be super supportive considering I felt like a burden. I have been worried for months about my injury being a sore point in our relationship. It’s hard to date a girl who can’t go on dates.
Over the course of my injury, I have begun to pay extra attention to the fact, very little places are handicapped accessible. Most surprising being, hospitals. There have been countless times a stranger has had to hold a door for me to even get to an appointment. I have no idea how I would cope if I had to go through this without help. Most bathrooms don’t even have automatic doors. A commodity that everyone needs is still hard to access. At the science museum, it was an entirely different world.
I had done my research before attempting the trip. The museum website was easy to navigate and very informative. Before I left the house I knew they had wheelchairs to use for free and how to get one. In addition to information for myself, the accessibility page was very informative. Staff had covered many different needs including, hearing devices, interpreters, and mobility aides. There was even a list of exhibits that would be easiest for people with autism to enjoy. The list included noise warnings in certain shows and when their quietest times were. I was impressed.
Then came the real deal, the day of the trip. It was wonderful. The staff were kind when we requested a wheelchair, even offering to get another is the first was uncomfortable. The layout was wide open and totally easy to navigate. Every interactive table had easy to move stools and so much space to pull the entire wheelchair under the table, allowing me to reach everything. All bathrooms had automatic buttons. The whole place was well designed to be accessible.
At the end of the night, I realized how successful I felt. I had been able to spend an entire night out with friends despite my injury. I was tired and in pain but I knew how much worse it could have been if I had hauled myself around on crutches. Overall it was a success! And I am so proud of the Museum of Science for creating such a welcoming environment.