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'AITA for telling my wheelchair using friend that not every place should be accessible?'

'AITA for telling my wheelchair using friend that not every place should be accessible?'


"Am I wrong for not being an accessiblity advocate?"

stellaprovidence writes:

I (M, 25) am taking my friends (MMFF, 24-27) around New Zealand (I live here). One of them (F, 27) is a wheelchair user and a big disabled rights advocate - won't say her name, but she has a following on TikTok/Insta. She's made this her whole brand back home (UK). (FYI, she calls herself "disabled", not "differently abled", etc.)

We planned this 3-week trip with activities that are disabled-friendly (absolutely fine, we all love wine tastings, walks, boat cruises, etc) - with one exception. Three of us wanted to do the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It's an 8-hour trek over rocky terrain with 1200 meters of elevation change - none of it is wheelchair-friendly.

Before the trip, we cleared this with her, and she was fine with it because there were smaller, flat walks she could do with our other male friend (who had no interest in the full hike). But she changed her mind while we were prepping yesterday evening and wanted to do the full Crossing.

We did gently talk her out of it (I've done it once, explained how challenging it is), but she spent the next 90 mins grumbling: "It's so unfair that it's not wheelchair accessible", "If it's a tourist attraction, it shouldn't be hard to add wheelchair access", "I'm going to tell my followers to complain, it's discriminatory", and then "if it allows just one disabled person to experience it, it's worth any construction".

We kept mumbling "yep" while we packed to keep her happy, but then she said, "It's not hard to add a cable car to the top". I sort of just snapped and said, "It's literally a volcanic zone and a place of natural beauty; no one is adding a cable car."

I followed up with (here's where I may have been the A-hole), "I know this is your whole 'thing' but not everything should have wheelchair access." She just stared and then said, "Well, I guess now I know who's secretly ableist" and then went to her room.

I felt bad, but everyone just kept packing because it was late. We three left at 5:30 AM and successfully completed the crossing today, but she isn't talking to me (or the other two because they didn't defend her), and now it's awkward.

I think it's insanely entitled and unrealistic for her to complain that Tongariro isn't wheelchair accessible and demand it be made so - but maybe I phrased it too harshly. AITA?

Here are the top comments from the post:

Lamacorn says:

NTA (Not the A^%@ole). It would ruin the rugged beauty of the area. It’s important that some areas remain relatively untouched. Does she hate rock climbing because it’s not wheelchair friendly?

How about spelunking? And cave exploration. How about mountaineering and assents like Mount Everest? Some things just aren’t going to be wheelchair accessible. And honestly they aren’t even accessible to all people with working legs…. Training is required.

Now you could have had better delivery, but your point is true. One suggestion: Does she have a trail wheelchair? There are chairs designed for more rugged hikes, though obviously that won’t get you everywhere , but helps.

draconius76 says:

I'm also from New Zealand, and I can't stop laughing at the idea of a cable car through a national park! Especially a track specifically designed for hiking. Would she like one paralleling the Milford track too? Maybe then we can approach the Nepalese to arrange for one up Mt. Everest?

Also, whilst affording her wishes, do we run roughshod over the local iwi and their interests in the land. Will she undertake the research into how a structure will affect local, unique and possibly endangered, fauna and flora in the area that this cable car will be running?

People come to NZ to view and experience areas of primal and untouched land, and her answer is to run a man-made structure through it? Sorry, still laughing!

HisBaeBee says:

NTA: it’s unrealistic to make a 8 hour rough terrain hike wheel chair accesible… how would that even work? A sky walk/cable cars would be cool to overlook natural beauty areas.

We have some where I live, but again, it’s a volcano! I dont live in volcano areas so I might be dead wrong but I don’t think a cable car over a volcano is feasible? You could have said it nicer, yes.

81optimus says:

NTA. My son is in a wheel chair and will never walk. Where we live there are beautiful mountains but in reality I'll never be able to get him to the summit of these places. Anything natural is just that, not built or designed. Anything man made should be built with access in mind. Your sentiments were correct but maybe your delivery could have been a touch better.

What do you think? Should OP be better about wheelchair accessibility?

Sources: Reddit
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