Hidden City: The Fresh Tea Shop

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[Image Description 1: A photo of the Fresh Tea Shop on Main Street. There are two steps leading up to the door to enter the teashop. Beside the Fresh Tea Shop is a store called Elemental Core Healing, which has an accessible ramp for entering.]
[Image Description 2: A close up of the two steps that lead up to the door of the Fresh Tea Shop.]

Almost every night my mother and I go to the Fresh Tea Shop for a cup of tea and then go for a walk at a nearby lake. I have walked up those two steps shown in the picture to open the door to the Fresh Tea Shop multiple times without thinking about how what seems so easy to me could prevent others from entering at all. As an individual without a disability it has now come to my awareness how our cities are made to work against individuals that do not present as what society has labeled “normal”. These seemingly hidden but truly obvious barriers are creating limitations for individuals with differing abilities when in fact society should be built to include all.

The Fresh Tea Shop on Main Street had its grand opening in 2014, therefore making the building only three years old. It is time for our cities to begin making appropriate decisions when opening shops so that everyone in the community is able to benefit. When looking at the social model of disability it says that the disability is not in the individual but rather it is in society. Society has made decisions that create barriers for people with differing abilities and continue to do so today. We need to be able to question how a culture has been created in which inaccessibility is even occurring (Mingus, 2010). There is a set idea of what a human body should look like and what its capabilities are and this is extremely harmful. Individuals need to be able to accept that everyone, whether they have a disability or not, is different in their own way.

These two steps create a barrier for individuals that are unable to use stairs, which can be due to a multitude of reasons. People with walkers, wheelchairs, canes and any other needed walking devices are almost banned from entering. Parents with strollers would also struggle to enter. These individuals would be left with no choice but to move on or send someone else in to get them a cup or tea or a pastry. The Fresh Tea Shop or any other establishment that does not have an accessible entry denies individuals of different abilities of getting what they want. Interestingly enough the store next to it, which is called Elemental Core Healing, has a ramp built therefore allowing individuals of all differing abilities to enter. Two shops side by side and the access to each are completely different.

This teashop is just one example of the barriers and limitations that are found within our cities. There are many other buildings and shops that will disallow people of differing abilities to enter and use their resources. I chose the teashop because drinking tea is one of life simple pleasures and I could not imagine being denied access to simply getting a cup of tea. With that said, other buildings and shops that do not have accessible access may be of more importance to individuals than just getting a cup of tea and their access may be denied.

Although creating accessible entry into buildings and shops is important and needed, it goes beyond this. Society needs begin accepting people for their differing abilities while simultaneously confronting what “normal” really is (Mingus, 2010). As a student in the field of social work I will be encountering individuals with a multitude of differing abilities and I am determined to make this world more understanding of how we continue to allow limitations and barriers of all kinds for human beings.

Mingus. M, (2011). Changing the Framework: Disability Justice. Retrieved from:


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