Posts Tagged ‘accessibility’
I’ve written on this subject before and posted my own version of “Mission Accomplished” by writing about my victory, blah blah blah. So I am just posting to say that my building’s managers are finally today putting in the ramp at the office that I have talked about throughout the last few years. They are really doing it. I can hear the construction workers. I will be able to use it tomorrow. Let this be a lesson to you. Whining always leads to victory! lol No, that is not the lesson. There isn’t one.
Living in the material world, businesses often will not make the necessary changes to make their establishment wheelchair-friendly unless it becomes obvious to the owner that not doing so would mean loss of revenue. Often times it seems that up-front cost of renovations are the foremost concern. Often the prospects of a burgeoning clientele base – namely the disabled community – is not taken into consideration.
But this is not just an American problem. In Britain, the Equality Act 2010 appears to cover the same ground, roughly, as the Americans with Disabilities Act. London, dwelling place of 1.4 million disabled people and destination to large numbers of tourists every year, does not appear to be exempt from the problem of accessibility. British people with disabilities encounter the same every-day aggravations that I do; stores, restaurants and other public areas are not always accessible. I can’t say I am surprised.
I discovered this while discussing the issue with a representative of a British company that designs, builds and installs elevators (platform lifts) for domestic and commercial (even portable!) settings. They have numerous template designs but also specialize in “bespoke” designs, meaning “to the customer’s specifications.
The company, I feel, recognizes that many disabled people’s quality of life could be greatly improved. Inactivity comes from feeling disconnected from the outside world, feeling confined to one’s home. Ability Lifting Solutions is devoted to providing its clientele with a much more flexible quality of life, more options, more freedom. And in the end, that really is the answer, isn’t it?
They work with the customer to “suit your needs and budget” even if all you need is a lift to get you up one step. The work is all very modern, sleep and aesthetically pleasing. Domestic accessibility has come a long way since I was growing up and at my parents’ house we had a mechanical device in a closet renovated into an elevator shaft.
Ability Lifting Solutions’ Web site does not discuss pricing outright, but it does have a “Get a Quote” link. Surely with this company around there is a convenient, affordable way for companies to do as the Equality Act 2010 says. Surely it is worth a look if you are a business owner or a disabled resident in the U.K. or mainland Europe. Even if you are not, it is still worth a look to see how their product stacks up against what is available where you live.
A couple of nights ago one of my employees pulled me aside because she said she had to talk to me about something, “un-work-related.” Employees often come to me and my fellow supervisors with personal problems especially if they relate to that person’s inability to make their scheduled shifts for the week, so I didn’t think anything of it. When we went into my office she asked me if I could make any recommendations on adapting a house for a friend who was recently paralyzed in a car accident.
Should be easy, right? I’ve got spina bifida AND my father is a carpenter. I deal with finding different ways to do things all the time that other people take for granted right? Well, as it turns out, I am the one that takes everything for granted because I have apparently become so complacent in the way I live my life that I could come up with no advice other than to make sure the sinks have room for a wheelchair to pull under. Because I was searching my own memory bank for adaptations in the usual household setup that I have personally found useful, I found myself buying some time by pontificating on the importance of making the guy feel like nothing has changed, like you still have the same relationship as you did before. I felt shallow for only being able to think of that, and I promised the girl I would look into it myself and see what I could come up with.
I have just gotten so used to finding ways to do things or just dealing with the fact of life that things are not always going to be made easy for me. Aside from the obvious, that is – access to the house itself, doorways wide enough to get through, making sure things can be reached from a wheelchair. I mean, life should not be a constant struggle, of course.
My wife often asks me why I don’t make calls to see if I can’t get certain things changed or adjusted so it is easier for me to use, or why I don’t invent things to make life easier for myself and people like me. The reason, I think is because I’d rather continue to live my life like I have been (as similarly as possible to the way everyone around me is living theirs) than try to change it. Even if certain aspects of it suck a little bit from time to time.
The truth is that I don’t see a lot of websites that are specific to this problem. Not that you can easily find by Googling the expected phrases like “adapting your home for a disabled person”. Should be a large market for this developing as we are in war time and we have thousands of injured veterans coming home, and back to their family life. People around me will probably say “Well now that you’ve seen the need for one, why don’t you start a website that has that type of information in it?”
I wanted to try to find the information my co-worker asked about because I do have great sympathy for anyone who loses their physical abilities mid-life. Especially in the case of the person my co-worker was talking about, who, by no fault of his own, was paralyzed probably for life.
I have thought about it though, and I have come to the conclusion that my advice was the best I could give. I have lived with many roommates and now with my wife, and based on the good experiences I have had with all of the people I have lived with, I can honestly say that I would rather live in a place that was not extremely accessible with people who treated me like I was able to do anything they were, than live in a Paraplegic’s Paradise with every accommodation made, with people who in one way or another made you feel like a less able person. As a disabled adult, I can attest that the people around you have a huge psychological impact on how you conduct yourself.
Why It Takes More Than A Disabled War Veteran and the Mother of a Child With a Disability To Win My Vote
I have encountered fellow citizens of the U.S. who were shocked that I would not be voting for John McCain/Sarah Palin in this year’s election. Astounded, really.
“Don’t you think Sarah Palin, as a mother of a disabled kid, and John McCain, as a disabled War Veteran, would do everything they can for disabled people?”
I have endless respect for McCain’s sacrifice in War, and I know from listening to my mother talk about raising me what Palin must go through to get her child what he needs to live the life she wants for him. So this is a valid question. Sure Palin is the mother of a child with Down Syndrome. But I don’t know what she would do as a leader. I mean if my own mother were in the White House, I have a good idea of the laws that she would want changed and I would trust her judgement. But I don’t know enough about Palin to know if I trust the things that she would have pushed for as VP. And nobody can know what’s best for all the different kinds of disabled people. So you have to vote for the overall best choice you have available. And I believe I did.
And besides that, any change that was made on behalf of disabled people would have to be voted on by the law-making bodies of our government, not just installed by Palin OR McCain. I know that is how it works under Bush/Cheney but we are back to reality now. In that respect I know that disabled people are just as well off under Obama as we would have been with Palin or McCain.
I told the person that asked me this that sometimes it is better if people that have a little distance from the issue make the decision. And what I meant was that if we want this to be a fair and balanced country, the laws and “changes” need to be made by people without self-interest in the issues.
And speaking of self-interest, despite an earlier posting in which I noted that Obama was the only candidate that mentioned disabled people on his Web site, I know that there are issues that are infinitely more important to this country than whether I get accessibility to certain buildings, etc. Such as the issue of whether I get to keep getting my health care for free while others don’t have health care at all. Such as whether my president is going to stop or continue isolating us from the rest of the world. Whether he is going to take the time to read the CIA reports about potential attacks. Whether my president is going to make education a priority for everyone. Whether he is going to tax the people who have the money to spare (the facts don’t lie, if you actually paid attention to what McCain and Obama were saying). The list goes on and on.
The point is that I am a citizen of this country and I care about the things that everyone else does. So it took more than two people with direct connections with disabilities to get my vote. That is why I voted for Obama.
Every so often, when things are slow on this blog, I like to sit back and take stock of what is going on, what’s going well, what’s not, etc. And this time around I noticed something very strange. Treadmarkz.wordpress.com has a fairly even distribution of readership throughout the United States, is read just as heavily throughout Europe, and sporadically everywhere else that English is widely spoken or read. Australia, South Africa, Asia, Hawaii, and a thousand other exotic locales where English is not widely spoken, read or written.
Except for Canada.
Are there disabled people in Canada? Obviously…And I want you to know I’ve spent quite a lot of time in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and I know that they have a very good public transit situation for people in wheelchairs. It’s free, whereas in my hometown in the U.S. it can get pretty expensive.
But there must be quite a few disabled people in Winnipeg at least. I can’t say I have ever really met too many other people in wheelchairs, but I know they are there. And so, I am assuming such is the case in the other major Canadian cities; Toronto, Montreal (If they are still part of Canada this week), Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Calgary, etc.
So, disabled Canadians, where are you? I can’t tell you much more about accessibility in Canada other than what I just did. But I want to hear from you. The issues you are dealing with must be very much the same as the ones we deal with hear (except for your nice cushy public transit situation, you Winnipeggers!) But I would love to hear more about what it is to be a disabled person in Canada. I want to know that I am getting through to you.
See you soon.
PS: God Save the Prime Minister
Ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, there has been occasional debate over the installation of ramps in buildings that are considered to be of “Historic” significance. I majored in history in college so I have a strong feeling about altering historic sites, to make it suitable for the modern age. But I am also in a wheelchair. There are many places that I would love to visit, to commune with the past. But in order to do so, I might have to get out of my wheelchair and have a couple of friends drag my chair up the steps while I drag myself up to the top. Would I rather do that than have the place altered? I thought so, but then there are plenty of historic sites that have had additions made that were not originally there. Electric lights (the Alamo), or roads and parking lots so people can access them by car (Stonehenge). And let’s not forget the gift shops that usually carve out their own little niche nearby or inside the site itself, making it impossible to forget that this place was once the site of a future-changing event, but is now little more than a commercial undertaking. If these places, which are not only historic but in the case of Stonehenge, sacred, can be sullied by modernity in these ways without a second thought, then what is wrong with putting in a ramp in front of a building?