“Let’s park in the parking lot for the able instead of the disabled, Jerry!” ‘Disgustedly, I made that suggestion to my husband because the handicap parking was further away from the establishment door than regular parking and I was not able to walk across a large parking lot.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. It sets the standards by which accommodations must be provided. Clearly there is a misnomer about handicap accessibility for the disabled among most designers and engineers. It is my belief, it is impossible to design for handicapped persons if you have not personally experienced their limitations. Just being briefed about situations might help meet criteria, but does not supply enough information to the designers to effectively meet needs
A person with a healthy heart cannot guess how walking an extra few feet can affect someone with heart trouble. By the same token, a person who can run marathons, does not have the capacity to understand what it is like to drive into a parking lot, remove a wheelchair, use one’s own hands to push it through hot pavement, dirt, rain, bubblegum, etc. and then, hunt all over a several thousand square foot store for the few items they need,(with nowhere to place said items on a wheelchair) and have to backtrack because the merchandise had been rearranged. It is the same principle for hospitals. If someone in a wheelchair wants to visit a loved one on their deathbed, in many instances, one must enter at the farthest point from the patient rooms.
If you will entertain my thoughts, I will share a few more blunders I have been privy too and some I experienced.
A couple of years ago, I had a bad fall and broke my ankle in 3 places. My foot swelled all the way up to my hipuntil it was unrecognizable . (I’m not looking for pity here, I’m tying to make the point, that anyone, even with bad eyesight, could see I was struggling.) More times than not, I would get inside the store, only to find the handicap scooters had not been charged. I cannot walk very far at a time. It is a catastrophe when my energy is spent but I still have the same distance to return to my car. For that reason, he helps me all he can, letting me out at the door, making trips for me, (which leaves me at home) etc.
On the days I had to go to the doctor, my husband would take me to a restaurant to eat. I am a very large woman, a senior citizen and was wearing, not one, but two air boots on my damaged feet, plus I was stumbling about, humped over on crutches that did not fit. ( I could not have made it without them, in spite of the fact, they sometimes threw me off- balance, ripped my arm pits out, bruised my palms and slipped on floors that were not skid-proof.) Without fail, (no matter what establishment,) the waitress would take us to the very farthest point of the café, which nearly always meant the bathroom was a block away on the other side of the restaurant. (The next time you visit a woman’s bathroom, pay attention to where the handicap stalls are. You guessed it, (most of time)all the way to the back of the room! I guess that is ok, if one is not in a wheelchair, having to roll over the feet of other people standing in line, or on crutches that whack them on the ankles as you use them like oars to row to the back of the room. )
In addition, where seating is concerned, the host/hostess always wanted to *stuff* me into a tiny booth that did not allow my damaged feet to go under the tiny table. As far as my size, suffice it to say, they parked a greyhound bus where there was only room for a Volkswagen, with the possibility that a crowbar would be needed to remove me.
It is insane. At first, I stuffed myself into the booth, and dangled my feet painfully in the aisle, trying to not be a bother. I soon, became the customer no one wants to deal with. I did not hold back, I specified what kind of seating and where it should be, to which I received eye buldges and ashen faces. I tried to request nicely but it was evident, they did not understand why, and only thought of me as a disgruntled customer.
The atrocity of the situation had become so ridiculous, I started watching the front door for other people who were *visibly* handicapped. (heart conditions and cancer, are not always so evident) I tried to make bets with my husband as to where the hostess would seat them. He didn’t take the bet. He knew too!
I cannot fathom how nearly all the establishments seated their handicapped customers as if they all were all performing in cadence, to a well choreographed dance. Could it be possible, they had to strictly adhere to store policy because the use of common sense was prohibited? I’m not sure, but one thing I am sure of is, compliance of the law without it meeting the needs it was created for, is the epitome of ignorance.