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Series of obstacles: What it’s like to be a person with a disability in Charlottetown



CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — When Antwaun Rolle heads to the College of Prince Edward Island every morning, he faces a number of roadblocks. The primary is a straightforward however hazardous impediment — getting down his steps.

Rolle lives with cerebral palsy which supplies him mobility points. He can stroll effective when situations are good, however winter in Charlottetown presents challenges.

To get from his condominium at Brown’s Courtroom to UPEI, Rolle takes his wheelchair. He pushes it forward of him and over the porch steps.

After leaving dwelling, the primary cease at UPEI is one other problem, this time a steep hill. Whereas the route is stored clear, Rolle generally wants somebody to push him up the slope every morning.

That was SaltWire Community’s job on Feb. 16. Rolle took this reporter on a short tour of the campus to point out a few of the locations he and different college students with mobility points should deal with.

“Dialog is the gateway to alter,” Rolle stated in an interview earlier than the tour. “We must always attempt our greatest to place ourselves in disabled peoples’ footwear and attempt to greatest perceive them, and to be there for them emotionally, though we don’t absolutely perceive,” he stated.

“Folks generally deal with me like a glass window. They’re afraid they may damage one thing. They’re afraid to open up, or they’re afraid to ask me questions on my incapacity.” – Antwaun Rolle


Rolle has a superb purpose for getting over these bumps within the highway. He’s a political science pupil with a aim of going into public coverage to assist different individuals with disabilities.

He additionally lately gave the Black Cultural Society of P.E.I.’s annual Black Historical past Month lecture, the place he spoke concerning the intersections of race and incapacity.

“What I talked about was, I’m extra than simply Black. I feel some individuals, they have an inclination to hyperfocus on being simply Black, however they don’t seem to be seeing the opposite half of me — my struggles as a disabled man.”

On the UPEI campus, Rolle generally has lessons within the Kelley Memorial constructing. In the course of the tour, he confirmed the elevator he used.

It’s a tight match. Rolle can get into the house simply, however turning round takes a couple of minute of backing up, turning barely, transferring ahead, backing up, turning barely — and repeating.

If somebody helps Rolle into the elevator, there isn’t any room for each individuals to trip. The helper should take the steps or await the elevator to return.


With a purpose to make Charlottetown and P.E.I. a greater place for individuals with disabilities, Islanders have to make it their very own drawback, Rolle stated.

Alternatively, when individuals do learn about Rolle’s incapacity, they often deal with him with an excessive amount of concern, forgetting that he’s a succesful grownup.

“Folks generally deal with me like a glass window. They’re afraid they may damage one thing. They’re afraid to open up, or they’re afraid to ask me questions on my incapacity.”

Whereas he appreciates individuals taking this care, it stops important dialogue about making change, Rolle stated.

Antwaun Rolle, who lives with cerebral palsy, sits beside the doorway to his apartment near UPEI. Rolle faces numerous mobility and accessibility challenges every morning on his way to school, starting with getting out his front door. - Logan MacLean/SaltWire Network
Antwaun Rolle, who lives with cerebral palsy, sits beside the doorway to his condominium close to UPEI. Rolle faces quite a few mobility and accessibility challenges each morning on his technique to faculty, beginning with getting out his entrance door. – Logan MacLean/SaltWire Community

Human rights

P.E.I.’s Human Rights Fee handles complaints about incapacity and racism. The fee has had 59 complete complaints within the fiscal quarter – 23 disabilities associated and 12 relating to racism, stated Brenca Picard, govt director of the fee.

Complaints about incapacity and racism largely centre on employment, Picard defined.

“Through the years we now have had occasional complaints about (accessibility in historic Charlottetown). We hear extra normal speak about it than individuals submitting a criticism.”

Nonetheless, Picard famous companies in Charlottetown battle to fulfill the accountability to be accessible.

“The Human Rights Act says that you’ve got an obligation to make companies and employment accessible to all people and accessible to everybody. So, generally it’s important to go above and past the minimal necessities.”

When discussing why incapacity is so usually ignored, Rolle advised it’s the silent nature of the struggle. Whereas racism had Jim Crow legal guidelines and colonialism to battle, disabled individuals are up towards poorly designed infrastructure and outdated programs.

Nonetheless, for Rolle, this struggle should embrace everybody as a result of anybody can turn into disabled at any time.

“We have to guarantee that our organizations and our authorities are ensuring that our voices are being heard. The individuals are there. We simply have to make it recognized,” he stated.

At a look

Following are some modifications Antwaun Rolle stated Charlottetown and its residents may make to enhance entry for disabled individuals:

  • Provide a driver’s training program tailor-made to individuals with disabilities.
  • Make public transit reasonably priced for disabled individuals (Pat and the Elephant is offered however prices greater than T3 bus).
  • Be taught signal language, the right way to use a wheelchair or different abilities that disabled individuals use.
  • Prepare employees in the right way to work with disabled individuals.

Logan MacLean is a range reporter with the SaltWire Community in Prince Edward Island. He may be reached by e mail at [email protected] and adopted on Twitter @loganmaclean94.

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