There are many factors that come into play when you use a wheelchair, crutches, walker, cane or scooter to get around. My blind friends tell me that this is a problem to them as well :the failure of businesses to do proper maintenance on accessible areas.
Many people with disabilities go out alone. That number is increasing all the time. This makes it even more important that accessible areas are properly maintained. Our level of independence rests upon this. Those of us who are working, obtaining an education, or simply out enjoying our leisure time rely on ramps, curb cuts, handicapped parking and similar accommodations. These areas need to be shoveled and cleared of ice.
When I went out last week after a storm, my wheelchair became stuck in snow in a handicapped parking spot that was supposed to be shoveled out within 48 hours. It was 72 hours after the storm. I managed to free my wheelchair with the help of a passerby. I then discovered that all of the curbcuts to the building were not shoveled. Piles of snow had been plowed and left there and, due to the cold temperatures, no sign of melting existed.
Did I return home? No. I needed to get inside because I had responsibilities to others who were depending on me, wheelchair or not. But I was late to my meeting even though I went to great lengths to find a way to get into the building. When I later reported it, I was met with the response “Well it will eventually melt.”
All of this was a reminder of how far we still have to go in terms of getting proper maintenance on ramps, curbcuts and parking areas. Laws are being passed that mandate snow removal within a certain number of hours, but often they aren’t enforced.
I choose to report noncompliance and urge you to do the same when you find it. Find out what the laws are in your area and report businesses that fail to comply.
Being told that it will melt eventually just isn’t good enough.
Copyright 2007 Ruth Harrigan