Monday, May 20, 2019

Quick Dash to Dallas

Last week, I had the most incredible opportunity to take a trip to Dallas to be part of AT&T's Advisory Panel on Access and Aging. I had been invited earlier in the year, but didn't exactly know what I was getting myself into.

It turned out to be really amazing. It was so exciting to be around a group of people who were also so excited and passionate about accessibility issues. We learned about some great products, but maybe more importantly, had some great discussions about disability and aging and access and everything in between. I can't talk about the details of the meeting itself, obviously, but it was just so invigorating to be able to take part in. I'm really so honored that I was asked to take part in it. Sometimes I feel like I'm a little bit out of my league at things like this, but I really felt like I was able to take part in the conversations and add to the discussion.
We stayed in the beautiful Magnolia Hotel, right in the very heart of downtown Dallas, very conveniently across the street from AT&T headquarters. It was the perfect location for walking around downtown. I didn't have a ton of time to explore the city (although we did head down a day early to visit with family, which was so fun!), but what I did get to see was all easily walkable.
I was a little bit surprised - for a city as big as Dallas is, I ran into a lot of sidewalk corners without curb cut ramps, so we had to do a lot of backtracking and lots of weird, circuitous paths to make our way around. I also didn't love the streetcar tracks all over the streets - they were SO bumpy and I had to cross them so slowly that the time to cross the street was basically over before I could even make it across! That one is less of an issue and more of a personal preference, but I'm sure I'm not the only wheelchair user who feels that way.

On the plus side, though, we had the best accessible minivan rental experience that we've ever had when traveling! Renting an accessible minivan isn't quite like renting a car - you can't get one from any of the major car rental companies. You have to use a company that specifically does wheelchair-accessible vehicles. One company we called said that they only do airport drop-off/pick-up Monday-Friday during normal business hours? Your flight arrives outside that window? You're out of luck. But we found Premier Accessible Van Rental, and they made the whole process SO easy and smooth and seamless. If you need an accessible minivan rental in Dallas, I highly recommend, and they're not paying me to say that!
The rest of my time there, I just explored - checked out the JFK museum, quite a few local coffeeshops, and the Dallas Museum of Art. I was really bummed that I was two days too early for the opening of their new Dior exhibit, but a kind docent did let me into the outer room to let me get a picture with the amazing dresses.

It was such a great trip, but felt way too short. I'm looking forward to next year's meeting already!

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