Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe

Gang Up For Accessibility

with one comment

by Treadmarkz

An organization in my hometown, called Arc Southeastern Minnesota has recently held it’s first annual Wheelchair Accessibility Awareness event. Basically what they did was they got a large number of people in wheelchairs, and their loved ones, to converge upon the city in groups to test the public establishments for accessibility. While putting them to the test, Arc was also driving home a point by having so many people in wheelchairs dropping by these establishments at one time:

Things MUST change!

The usual list of problems were found: those door-opener buttons taking forever to open in the first place in a lot of places, if they even have them. And have you ever pressed the elevator button, and then when it comes and you try to get in, the door closes on you? Yeah, that was another one of the key findings. Other problems discovered where narrow aisles and doorways, accessibility to restaurants and other every day establishments, and of course wheelchair accessible parking at these establishments.

Now its just a wait to see if their experiment made a difference in how the owners of the places they visited choose to run their businesses.

Do they want our business?

If they do they will make the changes necessary. Unfortunately most business owners will do the bare minimum required of them by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and even then they grumble about the cost. Maybe there needs to be a government subsidy for these businesses to make these changes, but I guarantee you the dollars spent by business owners to make the changes will be paid back in full by our dollars spent as their customers. There are more of us than they may imagine. They just don’t see us around much because getting into their buildings may be more trouble than it’s worth.

If you live in a town that you feel needs a little upgrade in accessibility in general, and you have a local disabled advocacy organization, please suggest conducting a similar experiment.

One Response

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  1. Sometimes I think it is the march of dollars that lead to getting things done. If you ensure that all new places are accessible, and truly accessible, then older establishments might take notice.

    Newer shops with wider aisles, easier to navigate entrances and cleaner larger washrooms — all things that seem to come with increased accessibility — are good draws for customers of any sort.Older shops will be inclined to do renovations — just have to ensure that the renovations are truly accessible too. More open layouts also — I think — reduce 10-finger-discount seekers and make folk feel more secure. Easier to cope with a baby stroller or small kids too.

    But I am pointing out the side benefits that new shops have with true accessibility over older shops with minimal attempts.

    I think someone just has to point out the benefits beside the obvious ones of following the laws for accessibilities.

    ~ Darrell

    PS – keep your eye out for Sam Sullivan carrying the torch in the 2008 Paralympic Torch Relay in September. He’s the Mayor of Vancouver who you might remember on stage at the 2006 Olympic games twirling the Olympic flag from his wheelchair. (I’m from Metro-Vancouver, Canada)

    Darrell Wade

    August 23, 2008 at 10:57 PM

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