Last December, James Dooley Sullivan packed his wheelchair and travelled to Jamaica. Sullivan, an animator and visual arts video editor at the World Bank Group, wanted to see first-hand what it’s like to be disabled in a developing country. He shares his experience and his own history in a video and a series of blog posts.
Luckily, when we land in Kingston we are greeted by the only leased van in all of Jamaica with a wheelchair lift. It fits me, my chair, my colleague Peter and all of the camera gear we’ll need to document my adventures learning about disability access in the developing world. What the van doesn’t have is working shock absorbers. I have to brace myself on a seat cushion as our driver Dereck tries to evade pot holes on the way to our hotel.
Whenever I check into a room I have to make some quick assessments. Here in Kingston, the carpet is thick and hard to push through, while the bed is spacious and at a suitable height. My new 17-inch wide chair just barely squeezes into the bathroom but the sink has a granite slab that whacks my knees. In the win column – there’s a handheld showerhead I can reach. In the no-win column – the toilet is really low and will need my complete concentration when in use.