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Jul 21
Wednesday
Community Articles, Mandala Projects, Scene and Heard
Ever-Expanding Accessibility

The Vidyadhara in his wheelchair. Photographer Unknown.

The Vidyadhara in his wheelchair. Photographer Unknown.

Hamish Maclaren writes about two of the strides that have been made to make our centres accessible to people with disabilities. Click here to read other articles on this topic in the Shambhala Times.

Shambhala continues to improve accessibility of its programs and facilities and we keep working towards a genuinely barrier free society. We have had people in our sangha with disabilities since its very beginning. As many of you know the founder of Shambhala, the Vidyadhara, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, was largely paralyzed on this left side following a car crash in the late 60s. He would quite often use a wheelchair as shown here accompanied by the Kasung, then Dapon (and now also Acharya) Suzann Duquette.

There have been quite few improvements happening in our ability to accommodate people with a broad range of disabilities. On the Accessibility and Disability Working Group’s webpage, you can find the recent Report for the Sakyong’s Council, 5th April 2010 from the Shambhala Accessibility and Disability Working Group, and the March 13, 2010 Accessibility and Disability Working Group minutes.

There are many centers working to become more accessible and we will report on these as things progress. Here are two centers that have recently done a lot to improved access:

Karme Choling
I have been talking with Jane Arthur, director of Karme Choling, and Greg Garner, director of operations. Karme Choling has several regular visitors who are blind, and many others who have disabilities. Both Jane and Greg have both been working on this and report very good news for people who are blind or have mobility impairments. At the front mailroom entrance, there is now good, even concrete stairs and a handrail. The mudroom entrance will be regraded and a new flat sidewalk laid to the parking area designated for people in need of easy access to the main building. New railings will also soon be installed at that entrance. Karme Choling has changed the doors to the pavilion and will soon install handrails at the Ashoka Bhavan ramp at so that they are ADA compliant.

These upgrades are a great contribution to Karme Choling’s community of practitioners, and to the mandala of people who require specific accessibility features.

 Larry, in his power wheelchair, leaving the elevator on the outside of the Denver Center.

Larry, in his power wheelchair, leaving the elevator on the outside of the Denver Center.

Denver Shambhala Center
The Denver Shambhala Center recently had an elevator installed. They made renewing their lease dependent on getting an elevator installed and also have an allowance for making the bathroom accessible. They have a very nice landlord who was willing to negotiate these terms.

As Larry pointed out, We didn’t have to twist arms – the landlord was open to negotiating.

The center is paying for half the wheelchair lift by increasing their rent in a five-year lease. One of the most active members and teachers, Larry Seidl has severe MS and now uses and electric wheelchair to get around. Without an elevator, he would not have been able to get into the center. So Fred Jaben, the center director, along with their leadership team, made having an elevator a priority. Larry also serves on the Accessibility and Disability Working Group.

Hamish Maclaren, Shambhala Accessibility and Disability Working Group

Hamish Maclaren, Shambhala Accessibility and Disability Working Group

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