I am a fairly easy going guy. I don’t really complain about the lack of ramps or parking when I’m out and about. The way I think about it is that it’s not really that hard on me if I don’t have front row parking and a ramp that is blatantly obvious. My mom gets very upset when someone parks in front of a ramp. My response is usually “I’m pretty sure there’s another one, don’t worry” I try to get into that person’s shoes who is parked in front of the ramp. Every time I do, I come away with the same conclusion. Put very simply, if I wasn’t in a wheelchair or around somebody everyday who was, I would probably do the same thing. Occasionally there is not another ramp and those people are always very kind when I ask them to move. Probably because they are more than a little embarrassed. The area of accessibility that I struggle with as restrooms. It doesn’t matter if it’s a restaurant or a hotel chain, everyone has a different idea what makes a restroom accessible. I have stayed in nice hotels before where the restroom door was too small to get my chair into and the room was classified as “accessible.” If I can somehow find a way to get into the restroom there was a metal bar next to the toilet that I could hold onto. This is some people’s idea of making a restroom “accessible.” On the other hand, I have stayed in cheap hotels where the restroom door was big enough to drive a truck through and the restroom was almost as big as my actual hotel room.
I hear you saying to yourself “why doesn’t he keep track of hotels with the accessibility he needs and just stay there all the time, no matter where he goes? The answer, because every single hotel from city to city is radically different when it comes to accessibility. I can stay at comfort Inn in Oklahoma City, with a fabulous bathroom, roll in shower and the whole nine yards. If I go to Dallas and stay at a Comfort Inn the restroom might have all the same stuff but in a room the size of a shoebox, with a 26 inch door that my chair can’t roll through. Put very simply, you never know what you’re going to get.
I talk to people all of the time and when this issue comes up I often hear “it has to be accessible right?” The American’s with disabilities act has to be followed. Well, technically that maybe true, but I think there is a lot wiggle room as to what is accessible according to the ADA, at least this is what I found in my experience. Anyone who has ever broken their leg or had any injury where they were confined to a chair for a short time, probably knows exactly what I’m talking about. I hear “man I had no idea” quite often. I think the reason accessibility is so subjective is because the people putting in accessible doors and ramps are able-bodied people who may not necessarily take things like arm strength, into consideration. They may think if a door is easy for them to open it must be easy for everyone.
I understand that it’s complicated because wheelchairs come in all different shapes and sizes. You can’t account for everything. That said, I’m pretty sure every wheelchair ever made will fit through 36 inch door. I’ve often thought since I got out of college that I shouldn’t really need to find a job because I would be the ultimate accessibility test, and I should get paid to consult with companies all over the world. Maybe that’s just a dream, but I think it would be fun.
What’s the worst example of accessibility you have ever seen?
Thanks to Evie for giving me another great comic to work with. I often wonder if this situation came up and she was with me, what her plan B might be?