The American’s With Disabilities Act means well I’m sure. It’s intentions are good and it also means to make prejudice against those with disabilities difficult at least. Businesses, public places, churches, schools, health care facilities, sidewalks-and more are supposed to be handicap accessible. Employers cannot hire or fire based solely on disability, having one or needing accommodations.
The letter of the law may be being met, but reality is that far to few truly are accessible for the handicap. As a wheelchair bound, disabled person it is my personal experience to note and name the following:
-The Gadsden Psychiatric Service office restroom I just visited is not.
-The weight of, and arrangement of, the interior doors of the oldest social services agency in Birmingham, Alabama is not.
-The restrooms at Jim-n-Nicks and Lone Star Steak House in Trussville are not.
-The sidewalks around the corners of 20th Street, 14th and 15th Avenues and Richard Arrington Boulevard as well as others in Birmingham are not.
-The aisles of any Dollar General or Dollar Tree in the Pinson, Remlap, Locust Fork, Cleveland and Oneonta areas are not.
-The parking lot at the building housing the Montclair location of Alabama Psychiatric Services are not.
-The restrooms at Alabama Psychiatric Services on Acton Road are not.
-Over half of the aisles in Big Lots and Michaels in Trussville are not.
-None of the actual rides (though they are for the handicap capable of stepping up, down or over small ledges) but for those needing to transfer wheelchair to seat at Disney World they are not.
-Many bathrooms in the handicap accessible hotel rooms are accessible for those needing secure, stable wheelchair to shower bench transfer are, in reality, accessible.
-Many restaurants in the Trussville, Pinson, Oneonta areas are difficult for the wheelchair bound patron and surrounding diners to have enjoyable seating arrangements including Applebees and Jim-n-Nicks in Trussville.
Doing just the following doesn’t make reality handicap accessibility possible:
-Putting handrails on a bathroom wall.
-Designating a parking place.
-Widening a doorway.
-Providing cheap and/or not replacing worn bath benches.
-Just increasing the stall size in bathrooms.
-Removing a chair at a restaurant table leaving a wheelchair bound person to repeatedly have servers and other diners tripping over wheelchair wheels.
-Providing a handicap restroom in a store.
As a wheelchair bound handicap person I can offer this suggestion to business owners; get a manual wheelchair and try getting through or enjoying your store/facilities for a few days. It will be a true learning experience.
Since I am naming names bravo to:
-Regal Cinemas in Trussville, both theater and bathroom facilities are great PLUS a free pass to the movie for a companion for the handicap.
-Christian Family Store in Gadsden where an employee was already working to make the aisles accessible for the wheelchair bound when we entered.
-WalMart and Target who provide electric shopping carts for disabled patrons.
-Major amusement parks, including Disney World and Dollywood who provide electronic scooters for rent to those needing them.