Saturday, July 2, 2011


We are in an era where everything is required to be accessible because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a fantastic piece of (bipartisan) legislation which means we have ramps to everything, we have bars in bathrooms, we have at least 1 bigger bathroom. And while all of this is nice, it can still be a difficult world to navigate. As a person who uses a walker or wheelchair, I have to evaluate how strong I feel, how far it is to a place, how big the place is, how many doors are involved and how heavy they are, etc. I even have to evaluate bathrooms, and I know which places have my favorite bathrooms! So, in a way, though at times frustrating, it can be a bit comical to look at situations. Here are some... (read this knowing it's sarcastic and not meant to be serious, even though at times, these things are serious)

- There are accessible parking spaces that are close to ramps rather than stairs. But... those ramps may be so long I think I'd rather figure out how to do the stairs. In some cases, this has to happen due to slopes (like where I go to church, but then there are 2 entrances - 1 with a long ramp and 1 without). But in other places I look and think, hmm... this really makes no sense. Wasn't the point to make things closer?

- OK, I'll go there - bathrooms. Everyone make note that the accessible stalls are almost always the furthest. This is odd. Then there are bars. Over the bars are often huge toilet paper dispensers. The point of the bar would be? I use it to lean against the wall, or the toilet dispenser (and the big dispensers make it dangerous).

- Baseball practice time! I went to the park to watch my daughter, and was ready to park next to th other cars there... wait, where's the ramp? Oh... it's way over there, in the furthest spot, and that is where they have accessible parking! And, behind each accessible spot is a dip so when I put my wheelchair together, I almost fall. There are 2 sidewalks - one seems to go where she practices, so I take that ramp. The sidewalk goes for a way and then... it ends... with no ramp. ??? :)

- I'm now an online shopper! Codes were revised so that in dressing rooms, there are no bars, which is a definite problem. Dressing rooms are now prettier... and more dangerous.

- This morning I parked at a store in an accessible spot. The ramp was at the opposite end. Since I am writing this you know no one backed over me while I wheeled by them. Then there were heavy glass doors, and I have a bad shoulder, so I was glad to see they had an auto-open feature on them. They had the blue buttons too, but once I initiate opening the door, it should react and open, which it did, halfway. OK, I'll use the button. But it's blocked by a big sign. I'd rather they get rid of all the auto features and loosen the door to not be as heavy.

- A woman using a cane had walked from 1 department store to another and was exhausted. Her husband wanted a wheelchair for her. He had seen them at the entrance. But they were all locked together.

- These could go on forever, but think of this. When you leave a bathroom, there's a spot by the door, right? People think that spot is to put a trashcan so people can put paper towels in it. That space is actually required by the ADA so someone with a wheelchair can have the angle needed to pull open the door.

What I think is that people have the best intentions. They may read a book to design something right. It may be right by the book. But what if... in addition to reading the book... they invited some people with disabilities to take a look? We did that where I work. It must have been quite a scene! But when it's all done, it will be by the book and the people involved will be happy!

And where does God come in? Well, I think God is there beside me, getting a kick out of all this, knowing I'll stubbornly figure out how to get somewhere. He has a sense of humor and is laughing. Later, I laugh too, because at times, it's just funny how things are done.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It happens over and over, facilities are designed by people who never consult those who use them....true at universities, businesses, shopping centers, etc. Is it too much to ask to involve those people who ultimately will be the users!