It takes time to recoup sometimes after having to go through the indignity caused because the entire process/people lacks awareness about handling people in wheelchair.
We stayed at New Woodlands hotel a 5 min drive to US Embassy Consulate office near Gemini Circle as the US Visa processing is done on 2 separate day.
Day 1 to submit all supporting documents, verifications, DS-160 bar code approval etc. …the queue was lengthy and the access to lift was turned off or out of service was speculation among the staff and security person. We were told to wait until they figure out an option to get me inside for screening. “I always wonder why people handle (me) wheelchair person like for first time ever, no one gets the concept of ramps, slops, lifts are accessible solutions for someone in wheelchair who cannot stand, walk or even fly …. Is it lack of awareness when it comes to accommodate people in wheelchair or the level of ignorance?”
So anyway, we finally managed getting inside with a poorly installed ramp with a steep 80 degree angle …where I lost control to manage my joystick and with push an huff I was up the floor. The screening was success. I had prior requested for my wheelchair access at the main embassy with customer care and this time I informed the officers once again so the process to be handled smoothly the next day.
Day 2 was worst of the previous as I was told my wheelchair cannot be allowed. I requested to reconsider as I had the prior informed about my power wheelchair and the fact that I become even more paralyzed to be seated in different wheelchair. None considered to check back but and I was given a bad shaped manual wheelchair to shift me. I was made to transfer in middle of the crowded Gemini circle main road with bystanders gather to watch the scene.
I was pushed roughly on the uneven cobblestones that the wheelchair stopped after every push making my neck losing traction and dropped back, my hands & legs position was jerked with loss of balance. The person pushing me didn’t even bother about the discomfort he caused pushing me and didn’t pay attention to even listen me as I was telling him my necks hurting and I was short of breath. After some giggles people inside security line gate, someone asked me ‘Medical Treatment in US?’ for which I ignored as my pain was immense and the stereotype questioning about people is wheelchair and I wasn’t in going to tell ‘I was going to US on vacation’.
I was parked in a corner for my turn with the Consulate and I was stranded with no clue of my waiting number, I was broke with tears rolling down shattering my happiness and my ability to even think. My turn came, the American saw me from his window to first ask if I was Ok & if I needed Water? I said No; He flipped through to ask ‘Oh you work with EMC, Nice to know they approved your extended vacation’. Thank you Ma’am, your visa will be delivered to you.
I was pushed back to same pavement were my parents and my driver was shocked to see my posture of discomfort, they told the person if he didn’t notice my neck …he apologized for not knowing about it and wished good luck for my treatment. (None spoke to his offense). I was transferred back to my power wheelchair. My parents knew I was handled badly and was humiliated but the support they provide me always was worth to happily tell them ‘I got my visa approved’ with a smile of accomplishment
The experience pondered loads of unknown facts and solutions that needed to be sounded to Consulate officials about disability etiquette, disability sensitization awareness for the staff and by far don’t treat us like terrorists.
If you have read this piece and know counslate official who can bring the change, requesting you to make them aware of this /share this info and I can additionally follow up to help with solutions.