TikToker puts restaurants, bars to the test over wheelchair accessibility
A Toronto-based disability advocate is using the power of TikTok to raise awareness over the lack of wheelchair accessibility at many restaurants and bars.
In her "Access by Tay Accessibility Review" videos, Taylor Lindsay-Noel visits popular Toronto restaurants and offers her review of the food and service, as well as how accessible the establishment is for those with disabilities.
Lindsay-Noel uses a 350-pound powered wheelchair to move around. Because of this, she says it can be a challenge to even make it through the door, as many restaurants still lack ramps for wheelchair users.
And even when a business does have a ramp, she said the washrooms often aren't wheelchair accessible.
"The bathrooms tend to be a very big issue. They don't have push or wave-to-open doors. The sink heights are not appropriate. They have barriers around the toilets. It's a plethora of things and it's quite common, unfortunately," Lindsay-Noel told CTV's Your Morning on Wednesday.
After she visits a restaurant, Lindsay-Noel emails the establishment to offer suggestions on how they can make their business more accessible.
"Usually they have a fairly good response and I love to include that when I post in my TikTok if I do hear from them, because I want this to be a collaborative effort," she said.
While some restaurants have avoided the upgrades, she suggests, to make their facilities more accessible due to costs, Lindsay-Noel believes, "that's not really a great excuse."
"If you're going to open an establishment, you have to think about longevity. And the reality is that at some point we're all going to need accessibility in our lives. We're all going to get older. We're not immune to those tricky, achy pains when you become elderly," she said.
As a teenager, Lindsay-Noel was a rising star gymnast and a top prospect to represent Canada at the 2012 London Olympics before becoming paralyzed during a training accident in 2008.
"I always say to people, 'Wouldn't it suck, if you -- God forbid -- had an accident and wouldn't be able to access the places that you once loved?' Being proactive, instead of reactive is how we should be approaching accessibility," she said.
Since she started making her accessibility reviews back in May, Lindsay-Noel has amassed more than 20,000 followers on TikTok and says the response from viewers has been "absolutely phenomenal."
She also noted her content has helped a "wide range" of people beyond wheelchair users, such as moms with strollers or caregivers who want to take their elderly patients out for dinner.
"Knowing that my fitting videos are helping such a wide range of people … it's amazing. I'm blown away," said Lindsay-Noel.