It was only when Jason DaSilva began navigating New York City with a walker—and eventually in a motorized wheelchair—that he realized how much he had once taken for granted. He’d formerly had no problem spontaneously heading out for coffee or to run an errand. Suddenly, it wasn’t so easy to hop on the subway, or make it up the two steps to get into a restaurant.
The 37-year-old filmmaker recently won an Emmy for When I Walk, a documentary chronicling his life with multiple sclerosis. DaSilva was diagnosed in 2005, and the disease has affected his vision, hearing, and muscle control. “Living in the East Village, I was finding that it could be 9 out of 10 businesses on a city block that would be inaccessible to me,” he tells CityLab.