Friday, July 29, 2011

Reason #813 Why I Love Living Downtown

I’m on Waterfront Toronto’s email list and last week, got a notice that Sherbourne Common was officially opening on July 26. With a party and politicians and music, so why not go? Especially since it’s a 10 minute walk from my place.

Wandered down there on the weekend by the quest for no work and some peace and took a lot of pictures of a very cool area that I'll post another day. Today is about Tuesday and why it is reason #813 I love living downtown.

Sherbourne Common is part of the Waterfront Toronto project that is revitalizing the New Blue Edge

Remember Sugar Beach? Not just the accessibility work, but taking the Tinks there and having a blast. Sherbourne Common is more than just park – it’s a water sanitation system that takes the area’s stormwater, treats it with UV filtration, sends the clean water – almost potable, actually – into three 9m high towers


Then it falls down into beautiful pools in a curtain and is sent out to Lake Ontario. This is park, art and usefulness all in one and I haven’t yet assimilated the whole thing. There's more on the link above, including a video from the opening.

The party got started with The Monkeybunch singing for a group of kids from a local daycamp

Based on the amount of media, you could tell it was kind of a big deal


And here are the reasons for the media: Peter Kent, federal Minster of the Environment, Glen Murray, our MPP and Provincial Minister of Research and Innovation, a City Councillor (whose names I have unfortunately forgotten) and speaking, Mark Wilson, Chair of Waterfront Toronto.

I photographed a photographer, mostly because I loved her hair

The kids had a blast on the playground

Caught Bruce from Waterfront Toronto with the big scissors (I need a pair, I really do)

On the way home, I got stopped at a light while they moved equipment from the location shot of Total Recall. For a minute, I thought I'd caught Colin Farrell in the car, but alas, no...

And that was a regular Tuesday downtown...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Climbing Everest with Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Interview with Jeffrey Gottfurcht

I talked to a really interesting man last week:

"Jeffrey Gotfurcht is climbing seven mountains to raise awareness about Juvenile Arthritis (JA), as well as raising funds to make dreams and wishes come true for kids with JA. Jeff has rheumatoid arthritis (RA)."

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review: Forever

(ed: I have fixed the Dragonisms)
I thought Shiver, book one in the Wolves of Mercy Falls byMaggie Stiefvater may have been the most perfect book I'd ever read. I loved Linger, book two, although not with the same fervor - most likely because living up to perfection is pretty impossible. I have looked forward to Forever, book 3, with the kind of anticipation that actually had me put a note in my calendar on the release day so I'd get it as soon as possible. I may or may not also have repeatedly checked Audible between midnight and 1 AM on July 12, just in case they actually listed it exactly as July 11 became July 12, but they didn't. Might have something to do with time zones or staff not being around listed that such a time, but either way, having to wait until I got up in the morning was torture.

So I got it, started reading. Sort of, because in the first couple of days, I had almost Forever avoidance. Reading the book meant being finished with the series and that was a really hard thing to think of, but I eventually smacked myself upside the head and moved on. Some spoilers ahead, primarily about book 2, Linger.

When we last saw Sam, Grace, Cole and Isabelle, Sam was cured and: no longer turned into a wolf when the weather got cold. Cole had figured out what was wrong with Grace, why she was dying: she needed to turn into a wolf. In her, the werewolf disease had d been dormant for 10 years or more and if she didn't turn, she would die. Cole helped her turn and she left, jumped out of the hospital room window and ran.

In Forever, spring is coming to Mercy Falls and changes are in the air. Tom Culpepper, Isabelle's dad, is on a mission to destroy the wolf pack, campaigning for an aerial hunt. Cole is experimenting with various substances, on a quest to find a cure so the wolves, Sam is waiting for Grace to become human again while being scrutinized by the Mercy Falls community and police force (he's suspected of killing Grace) and Grace is fluctuating back and forth between human and wolf. The rest of the story centers around Sam and Grace reuniting, Isabelle and Cole dancing back and forth, the quest to find a cure and saving the Boundary Woods wolf pack. And that's about as much as I'm going to say about the story.

As in the two earlier books, Stiefvater’s prose is breathtaking and its melancholic grace has a habit of quietly breaking your heart (in a good way). I loved this series as a whole and each book individually, but I remain ridiculously partial to Shiver. There's part of me that thinks it should have been a standalone book, a story of such perfection that to continue it in the same way is impossible. Any follow-up will be flawed and I'm already written about some quibbles with Linger. I have less quibbles with Forever, there are no screechers – y’know, that awful sound of a needle skidding across a record - but still. The events became sort of easy to predict and there are moments I would've liked fleshed out, the ending in particular. It felt rushed, not fully developed - it could've been a matter of another 10 pages at the most and I would've put the book in the series down with more satisfaction. As it is, I felt there was something missing, felt as if it wasn't quite done and nothing in the three books have prepared me for that. Stiefvater may have stuttered once or twice, but she never rushed you or the characters, so that was sort of odd. As quibbles go, hardly worth mentioning.

The narration was wonderful. I still like the Sam narrator better in Shiver than the other two, but the new narrator grew on me. Jenna Lamia as Grace was pitch perfect and based on her Grace and her narration in The Help, I'm definitely going to be looking for more books read by her. Dan Bittner as Cole and Emma Galvin as Isabelle are also beautifully cast and truly bring their characters to life.

So even with my wee quibbles with moments in the series, would I still recommend it? Absolutely! I might even go out and buy the series as gifts. For several people. They are true gems, lyrical and with a quiet beauty that means I'll be reading them again and again. I hope Audible will soon feature more of Stiefvater's books.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oh, Brother

“Is that your brother?”

We get this all the time, The Boy and I and I don't know why, except that we are both somewhat rounded and wear glasses. Well, that's not actually true, because I do know why. It's because able-bodied men don't date women in wheelchairs. To be even more specific, women in wheelchairs don't date.

People with disabilities aren't usually allowed the imaginary leap it takes for others to see them as three-dimensional human beings who can have all the different kinds of personalities that others do - yes, even be jerks! - or experience the myriad of emotions that come with being a person, even love and desire. Having a chronic illness can make it hard enough to be seen as someone other than the Poor Suffering Martyr, but if you have a visible disability, forget about it. In the eyes of the rest of the world, we are asexual beings, dropping off our wishes for love, longings to kiss someone who knocks our socks off and desire for a good lay at the same window where we picked up our disability. It seems to be a sort of barter system – one is exchanged for the other and for the rest of your life, you will be a two-dimensional stereotype.

Unless you're a man with a disability, in which case it might - again in the eyes of the able-bodied world - be possible that you could find a woman who’d look past the disability. Particularly if you are paraplegic, which is the most able-bodied of the disabilities, enabling its practitioners to look almost-normal, almost like a regular person sitting down and maybe even get into sports and bulk up your upper body and get all heroic (see: Rick Hansen). And yes. It is on purpose that this particular excursion into the world of disability love stays firmly within the straight world. Because imagining the trifecta of love, sexuality and sexual orientation tends to be too much to ask. I have seen several people's brains implode from trying.

But if you're a woman? It doesn't happen. Women aren't allowed to be sexual much in general, but disabled women get completely neutered. We have no role models of hotness or beauty and I am sure I’m not the only one who's gotten so used to not even being considered that the odd moment where I get objectified is sort of fun.

Which brings us back to the case in point. The Boy and I and the reactions we get when out in public. I live in a wonderful area of downtown Toronto, one that is made up of every kind of person you can imagine and one of the things I like most about my neighborhood is that a same-sex couple can walk down the street hand-in-hand and nobody bats an eye. It's a sort of litmus test for tolerance and acceptance and my little corner of the world passes that test.

It turns out that there is a litmus test beyond that and that is a disabled person holding hands with their partner. In the beginning of our relationship, I mentioned it to David, this becoming an oddity that comes with choosing to love someone who travels seated. A think he might have thought I was exaggerating a little. And then we started leaving the apartment occasionally and for the first little while, he noticed it every time somebody stared at us. I once wrote about how all aspects of being a person with a disability in public can become acts of advocacy and yes, holding hands with your beloved definitely counts. It is as if it is the last bastion of the socially agog, this messing with the stereotype, this exploding out of the narrow box in which the norms place us, it is flaunting a love that not so much doesn't dare to speak its name, but rather wasn't conceived of to begin with. And now that we have crashed through that wall, the next little box in which they put us to stay comfortably away from being challenged is the one where The Boy is such a saint for being with me, because it is (yet again) inconceivable that we might love each other for the exact same reasons that others do. The wheelchair automatically nullifies these reasons, obliterates attraction, desire, comfort, laughter, partnership and leaves only caretaking and that only one way. Only able-bodied to disabled, never the other way. And that, by the way, is not limited to a romantic relationship - most of my friends have received comments about being extra nice, saints, even, too. For befriending the poor cripple, y;know. But that's a story for another day.

So what do we do? By now, two years into being us, we just are, going about our business, buying strawberries, going to the theater, taking a walk and usually hand-in-hand. We ignore the stares, don't really see them anymore and every now and again, when someone asks if he's my brother, I just smile and say "no, boyfriend."

But every now and again, we’ll engage in a particularly affectionate PDA while waiting for a light. Just to mess with people's minds.



Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Free Spirit with JA: An Interview with Gabi Rojas. And Vitamin D

We're still celebrating Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month on MyRACentral and I had the opportunity to speak to Gabi Rojas, a dancer:

"Gabi Rojas grew up in the circus, traveling through cities in the US, making friends wherever she went. When her mother changed jobs from being a trapeze artist to a dance instructor in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Gabi went from tumbling to dancing and found her happiness in expressing her thoughts and feelings through movement to music. She became known as The Dancer in school and appeared in talent shows. Until the pain started. Until she was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis. Until at 13, she had her first full-blown flare and stopped dancing, stopped walking."

You can read the rest of the interview here.

I also did a post about an interesting study that found that Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of autoimmune disease and certain cancers.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Which I Scare a Dentist

I'm beginning to see why people get their teeth yanked.

It all started last Thursday late in the evening when I cracked a molar eating Oat Squares. Managed to get squeezed in to see my dentist Friday morning and was told it either should be extracted or I needed a root canal and crown. At some point I'll lose the very back tooth behind this particular one because I can't open my mouth wide enough to do any work back there, so I elected root canal and crown to protect some degree of chewing surface. Despite my insurance not covering crowns, but that's what credit cards are for, right?

By the way, do not let this story prevent you from buying Oat Squares. It is a lovely and tasty cereal and not at all hard - if I cracked a tooth eating that, it was going to crack soon anyway.

I spent the weekend twitching with anxiety – it’s amazing how much work you can get done when you’re avoiding thinking of something – but did check out the endodontist’s website. It briefly distracted me from fretting and I was completely charmed by their URL ( I was even more charmed by the fact that you can fill out the patient information form online, thus saving you from stressing out over that before your appointment. I love the Internet.

Monday morning, I arrive at the endodontist’s and enter a quiet, spacious and well appointed waiting room. My mind quietly raises the projected price of the root canal by about $200. When I see that the staff are carrying around those wireless headset things that have become so prevalent in clothing stores so you don't have to yell out someone's name to find them, my mental price goes up by another $150.

A very nice assistant takes me into a spacious treatment room with a nice view. By now, I've forgotten to keep track of the money, instead focusing on the freaking out that's happening within me as the root canal looms closer. We go through my particulars and she sticks the digital x-ray plate in my mouth and braces it against my cheek bone and eye with a yellow circle. This closes my right eye, making me look sort of like Popeye. Then she makes a remark about how surprised she is that anyone can do any work in my mouth because with my difficulty in opening my mouth, the space is so small. This does not help my level of anxiety.

The endodontist - who looks to be about 17 - enters the room and asks me how I am. I say "nervous as hell, how are you?" and am somewhat reassured by him not saying "so am I." He takes a look in my mouth, explains what he's going to do and applies a disgusting artificial cherry tasting numbing gel and then there's freezing and thankfully, there is no rogue nerve at this time. I am numbed into oblivion and very grateful for it.

Next he clamps a contraption that isolates the tooth from the other teeth and holds the blue dental dam in place. This is my first experience with a dental dam and boy, those things are awesome! It keeps all the debris from accumulating in your mouth, your tongue doesn't get in the way and there’s no way that doesn’t improve the experience. There is not a lot of tooth left, so the contraption doesn't have a lot to hold onto and this combined with me not being able to open my mouth much makes the dentist (‘scuse me, endodontist) really nervous. He doesn’t want the contraption to fly off and create an unsterile field and seems generally stressed about his ability to do this. Which seemed only fair. Especially giving the long, slender and very pointy attachment to the drill that shortly after got closer to my mouth and I'm not sure what happened next, because I closed my eyes and went to my happy place.

Much to my surprise, it wasn’t difficult go to my happy place - in fact, I was positively relaxed. Sort of felt as if I was approaching a nap. That is, if it wasn't for the heavy-handed work that was going on in my mouth. It was as if there was only so much nervous to go around in that room and the more nervous the dentist got, the more relaxed I became. I can highly recommend freaking out your dentist. Makes them work faster, too. He finished in what seemed like record time. And then he charged me $1085. For half an hour's work.

I am so in the wrong business.

An hour after entering their office, I was back on the sidewalk in the middle of Yorkville - one of the toniest areas in Toronto - feeling decidedly underdressed. What was nice clothes in my neighborhood - casual but nice - turned out to be destitute level at Bay and Bloor. These people wore shoes that cost as much of my root canal and while I'm at it, that one cost about triple my "difficult extraction" a couple years ago. Not only am I in the wrong business, I'm also beginning to see the point of being a toothless crone.

Of course, it’s too late now. Next week: the crown!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Pros and Cons

I've been commenting lately. More specifically, I have been lusting after an iPhone. I don't know why this has suddenly come over me - they've been around for what, 4 years? and I've never had the urge to have one before, but now, it's preying on my mind. I want one, in much the same way a pregnant woman craves pickles and ice cream at 3 AM. As illogically and undeniable an urge, one that I have been trying to combat for a good three weeks. Hence, I have compiled a list of pros and cons. To whit:

I could play Angry Birds every day!
I would playy Angry Birds every day. To the point of injury.
It's a really cool phone.
That I can't hold to my ear
It comes with a loudspeaker!
I primarily use my cellphone as a watch and really only for outgoing calls. Once or twice a week.
I keep seeing things when I'm out and about that I want to tweet
I don't have the manual dexterity to text/type from a cell phone. That's why I've never texted
but it's touchscreen!
I've tried an iPad. The touch thing doesn't really work for me due to deformities in my fingers.
My golden rule is that when I'm out, I don't want to be connected or reachable. It's downtime, there are boundaries.
Dragon v.11.5 is available as a free update soon. It'll make the iPhone work as a wireless mic!
You probably wouldn't be able to hold the phone in the required position. And remember: boundaries. I don't want to be able to work everywhere. Because I would work everywhere.
it comes with a really decent camera (switching tacks now - surefire sign of starting to lose the argument)
start carrying your camera everywhere you go (internal voice now shifted to Super Ego, as Id has taken over completely)
the iPhone has really cool camera apps that I want to try. Like Instagram
You probably wouldn't be able to hold the phone to take photos
Pro (sort of)
Ken has an iPhone. I could ask him if I could fondle it next time I see him
Messing around with apps and photos would mean bending your neck to look down. You know the world of hurt that'd get you. And it'd be hard on your shoulders, too.
Ken has an iPhone. I could ask him if I could try it next time I see him
Spending too long on The Boy's iPad hurts your neck and shoulders. Now imagine a much smaller surface
But I want

Have you seen the price of that thing? You could get a really cool camera for that. And you've been lusting for a camera longer
hmmm.... you have a point

The debate continues.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Annual Peony Post

Ken and I got to talking about peonies the other day. Well, a few weeks ago. About their short-lived beauty, about how they're exuberant and blowsy and really? Sort of vulgar. In the best way possible. And this was just around the time they were in bloom, so the day after, I went peony hunting in my neighbourhood. And found these

And speaking of Ken... he is cycling to Montreal for the Friends for Life Bike Rally again this year. Please consider sponsoring him.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Last week, I wrote about an experience at Winners where it was impossible for me to pay for my purchase due to the pin pads at the cash not being accessible. I intended to also communicate with Winners directly about this issue, doing the advocacious thing. Especially as they have a link on their home page to their participation in the Sunshine Foundation Dreams forKids, an organization that works to fulfill the dreams of kids with disabilities and life-threatening conditions. This commitment seemed ironic given the lack of access I'd experienced.

Long story short (because you don't need to hear about the time I wasted trying to find out who the head honchos were so I could send them a letter. They’re not listed anywhere at all on their website and when you call them, they claim not to have a CEO. Really??) - where was I? Right. I ended up talking to their Manager of Customer Service, a lovely woman named Charmaine, e-mailed her the blog post and we had a more in-depth discussion the next day.

Winners already has an Accessibility Committee that is working towards implementing design and policies to increase accessibility, particularly in customer service. This is probably not unrelated to the fact that the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act regulations forcustomer service take effect next year. However, regardless of the driving force, Winners has an Accessibility Committee! This in itself is huge - governments have these things, but corporations usually don't and I congratulate them for taking that step.

There are more exciting things about this Committee - they have partnered with March of Dimes for training in accessibility issues, as well as consultation with people with disabilities regarding incorporating barrier-free features in their store design. This will include accessible changing rooms and making the shopping experience more accessible - I've already noticed that there is more room between the racks. I did my little song and dance about not relying on building codes for guidance in accessible design, as they are typically minimal and often unusable and the response, as with so many of my comments or suggestions, was that they were already aware of this. I also spoke about following up accessible design with accessible policies to ensure that e.g., automatic door opener buttons are not blocked by displays. Because you wouldn't believe how many places this happens.

And now for the pin pads. Charmaine told me that new and accessible pin pads will go into all Winners stores next year, but that she'd spoken to their systems people and they will ensure that until then, there will be at least one accessible pin pad in all stores.

I would like to publicly thank Charmaine for stepping up and being accountable on behalf of Winners, for her commitment to making changes - seriously, 24 hours after she got my e-mail, decisions had been made about making payment accessible - and for her willingness to have an open discussion about accessibility at Winners and welcoming suggestions and ideas from me. This was a fantastic experience and I am very impressed with their response. Definitely winners (sorry, a groaner. I had to)

I learned two important things from this experience. Well, three. The first is that corporations are usually responsive when contacted directly about accessibility concerns. The second lesson was more of a confirmation - namely that once the law says you have to do something, it gets done. This is not about Winners, but corporations in general - now that the regs are getting closer, I’ve noticed all sorts of work on accessibility that wasn't happening before. This cannot be overstated: laws are necessary. Otherwise, nothing happens.

Lastly, I learned something important about social media… At about the same time I was talking to an operator at Winners, Trevor, who'd gotten thoroughly irritated by my post, posted a link to it on their Facebook page. This got an immediate response, saying that the incident should never happened and that they would be contacting me. After my conversation with Charmaine, I am sure that I would've gotten the same response without that post on Facebook (or the re-tweets on Twitter), but it taught me a lot about the power of social media. In the old days we boycotted corporations and businesses and very little happened. Now we express our concern on Facebook or Twitter and it works better. It means corporations can see each potential customer holding them accountable. It means that it's not just one person sending a letter, it can be droves leaving a quick comment or doing a retweet and all of a sudden, you have a community that is standing together and fighting for change. This is the way to effect change.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Tinks at Sugar Beach

The kids (and their parents) visited to celebrate the long weekend. We hung out at mor's first. Liam's obsessed with reading and already reads at a grade 3 level. They just graduated kindergadern. I'm so proud I could burst.

then conspired with David about sharks and elephants and which could be invisible. There was some diaagreement.

Morgan haslost a lot of teeth lately

making her look a little like a tiny, adorable vampire

the we took them down to Sugar Beach for their first exposure to sand. A freighter was being loaded with the sweet stuff and proclaimed something rather obvious. At least I thought it ought to be obvious, but I'm not nautical, so what do I know?

the kids had fun with the fountain

built their first sandcastle

and a great time was had by all



Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Growing Up with Juvenile Arthritis

July is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month in the US and my first contribution is the story of being a kid with JA:

"It started when I was four years old. That deep in the bone pain gnawing at my right wrist, making it difficult to use my hand. The mysterious swelling that appeared out of the blue and disappeared again just as suddenly. And the doctors who didn't believe, so many of them. Except because I was four - and five and six and more - it was my mother whom they accused of making it all up. One even suggested she see a psychiatrist. And then, when I was nine, a doctor took one look at me and told me I had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, just like that."

You can read the rest of the post here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

This Again?

Sometimes, it comes in waves… 

One evening, not too long ago, I was captured by the light of the lowering sun and headed out with my camera. I'd already changed into my not-going-out-again evening outfit of red tartan flannel pants and a comfy cardigan (I call it The Lene Andersen Street Urchin Collection). My attendant had left, so there was no opportunity to change, but when the light is like that, you answer the call regardless of attire. After I was done photographing, I decided to swing by Winners - a clothing-and-more store with discounted designer stuff` - as I was in need of a top that looked somewhat professional. And this is where it gets interesting.

I poked around in the aisles in the women's section of Winners and found a top and a nice, light cardigan that together with a pair of pants already in my closet might even qualify as an "outfit." Decision made, I head for the check-out line. Once it's my turn, the clerk does what needs to be done and I hand them my credit card. They insert it in the pin pad and… We're stuck. Because all stores now seem to have made the transition to the chip card which means people have t to enter a PIN number instead of signing a credit card slip and what seems to come close on the heels of that is pin pads that are screwed into some surface near the cash register. In other words, there is no opportunity to remove the pin pad and hand it to people in wheelchairs who may not have the mobility in their upper body to reach across the counter or up to a level at about their eye height to enter the pin number.

Because apparently, us cripples don't go shopping without a handler.

I ask the clerk to bypass this function so I can sign the credit card slip like in the old days (which were a mere two months ago). They don't know how. I ask to speak to a manager. The clerk gets an idea - in the jewelry area, there is one of the old-fashioned pin pads with a cord that will surely be long enough to pass to me so I can enter my PIN number myself. The clerk reverses everything they did when ringing up my purchase and we head for the jewelry counter. Clerk #1 explains the situation, the jewelry clerk does what needs doing in order for me to pay, takes the pin pad and reaches it from the wall across their area to the glass case containing jewelry and… The cord just reaches the edge of the case. Which is naturally again placed at about the level of my eyes.

Because apparently, us cripples don't buy jewelry.

I asked if she can do that thing that bypasses the requirement for a PIN number so I can sign the credit card slip like the old days. She doesn't know how, either. I again ask to speak to a manager. Jewelry clerk makes a phone call that goes on for quite some time while she explains to the manager what's going on and when I get tired of listening to that conversation, I say, with perhaps a tone of exasperation, "I would like to speak to the manager myself." I am asked to wait.

It takes a while, but eventually a nice young man arrives. I explain the situation and as I am clearly in need of fashion - remember the Street Urchin look? - the manager says that of course they can do that thing that bypasses the PIN number and proceeds to direct the clerk in how to do it. It doesn't work. He tries something else and the computer won't let him do that, either. He then asks if he can enter my PIN number for me and I decline, informing him that that would be a violation of my privacy. He looks stumped. I mention words like inaccessible and unreasonable. Politely and quietly, of course. I am, after all, Canadian.

By this time, I have spent more time trying to pay than I did finding what I want to buy.

I remember I have some cash in my wallet, although it's about $20 less than is necessary and ask if I can give him that. He declines to give me a discount. I assume he's following store policy, but given that so far, I have unsuccessfully tried to give three people money for goods and that this experience has been transformed into a bit of a spectacle, which is certainly not my choice, I quite frankly think he ought to have given me an embarrassment discount. Their embarrassment, not mine. Because it is the store and the company that should be embarrassed given this astonishing display of discrimination against people with disabilities. Not by the staff who tried to help me, but by the corporate staff responsible for implementing payment methods and devices and who were completely blind to accessibility issues.

It is becoming apparent to me that Winners doesn't want my business.

In the end, we put part of my purchase on hold, I pay for the rest and go home, rather upset. The experience was frustrating and humiliating, took way more time than it should have been on top of it all, now I have to go back the next day to get my cardigan. This is not equal. Not by a longshot. And use my handy test to illustrate whether something is discrimination, just think about what your reaction would be if a woman or someone who was a racial minority had been required to jump through these hoops to buy a top.

And no. Claiming that it was a mistake or a goof or that they "just didn't think" about accessibility for people with disabilities is not an excuse. Not in this day and age where said people with disabilities are independent, contributing members of the community. There is the human rights perspective and there is the regulations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that mandates accessibilityin customer service. And aside from the legal requirements,, is it not time that companies and corporations remember that people with disabilities being part of society includes being consumers and customers, in other words putting money back into the economy? Not including accessible design means you are potentially not reaching one in seven people. The goal of corporations such as Winners is to make money. How much more profit might they make if they were accessible?