When I lived in Los Angeles, there were definitely a lot of perks. I mean, sunny California for one! I learned quickly, however, that accessibility between major cities can be as different as night and day.
Living in Los Angeles was a bit different from living in Chicago. For one thing, Chicago is flat. There aren’t any real hills, so this makes moving around in my Edge 3 power wheelchair pretty simple. Los Angeles is a different story. There’s uneven terrain everywhere. Because of the faults, the ground is always moving. So, a sidewalk route that is smooth and even one day may have a huge crack in it the next! Or, there is a sidewalk and then suddenly there isn’t! If you’re going to visit Los Angeles, you definitely have to be able to adapt and overcome challenges like that.
There’s a lot of great places to eat in Los Angeles and most restaurants were accessible. Yet sometimes, the only route that was wide enough for my power wheelchair would be a back entrance of the restaurant or through the kitchen. Businesses in Los Angeles are definitely trying to be more wheelchair accessible to the disability community.
One of my favorite hang-out spots while living in Los Angeles was the Beverly Hills Cigar Club. I’d go hang out there with my friends and just enjoy a good cigar.
If you’re planning to visit Los Angeles, there’s a lot of cool stuff to see and do. If you’re not into cigars, you can do window shopping in Beverly Hills along Rodeo Drive. This street spans about three blocks and has a ton of stores to check out. The great thing is that the sidewalks are wide enough to easily accommodate a power wheelchair user. The shops tend to be wheelchair accessible as well.
If shopping isn’t your thing, you can also check out the California Science Center. The center is extremely accommodating to people who use wheelchairs. All the restrooms are wheelchair accessible. There’s also the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is located on Wilshire Boulevard. All the rooms are accessible to wheelchair users and there are elevators available to move easily between floors.
If you are more into television and movies, you can take the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. There are tour carts that take people around and they are specially designed to accommodate power wheelchairs.
And of course, no visit to California would be complete without taking a trip to Disneyland or Universal Studios. Many of the attractions at Disneyland are fully accessible to people of all abilities and you can get special access cards, like Fast-Pass and Fast-Pass +, which allows those with disabilities to access alternate lines for rides and attractions. When you visit Universal Studios, they also have Attraction Assistance Pass, or AAP, which allows electric wheelchair users to wait in a different queue.
If you are planning to take a trip to Los Angeles, my advice is to figure out where you are going and get as much information about the accessibility ahead of time. Doing a little research may save you a lot of time and hassle later. Although it can be tough, Los Angeles is doable and definitely worth the visit!
About Bryan: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.