I have never had to be in a wheelchair. Once I did break my lower leg and ankle causing me to be confined to a bulky cast and have to use crutches when I did leave the house. Getting in and out of the car was miserable and stores forget it. I really did not want to attempt getting around anywhere it was so difficult and not because of the pain but the accessibility was not available to someone that does not move around like the a person that has use of both of their feet.
That is when I really started to take notice of all the things in life that were harder because the use of both of my legs was so limited. The doorways were always hard to get the crutches over, the car provided enough leg room but access into the car was tricky and there were multiple businesses that we went to that did not have access besides stairs. Stairs, crutches and me did not see eye to eye. I started to really think about how people using handicap devices such as wheelchairs, shooters and walkers got into places.
I know that the ADA specifies that all public places have devices in place so that access is open to the entire public. However, from experience I found that not all business applied this law. Handicap ramps were used at a few establishments and lower curbs were available some of the time but not always. I specifically remember a shop where my family wanted to show me something and the only way to access the store was three steep stairs. No way would I attempt that and I did not like the idea of being carried in so I just didn’t but for someone who is bound to a wheel chair for life being left should not be a way of life.
I understand that many smaller businesses might have a cost issue in regards to building handicap ramps. However, I believe with the price of metal ramps these days I don’t see that being a huge concern especially when it is the law. It is imperative that we start to look at each person and their individual rights when it comes to public access. I have noticed that area parks are starting to become more wheelchair friendly. They have larger openings for the bathroom doors and have threshold ramps where the height of the door might be an issue. It is hard to get a wheelchair over the threshold of a door that is a few inches off the ground.
I think that it is about time that car manufactures look into options for sedans that are made to be accessible to those with special issues regarding the mobility. It is hard to move a leg that does not want to move especially when the car does not accommodate for this need. I worked with a beautiful lady whom was affected by MS. She was able to drive using hand controls and got around using a walker. It was always a struggle to get her feet inside the car and required much lifting and bending. It would have been much better if the car manufacturer offered a sedan that had seats that would shoot completely back, allowing for maximum maneuvering and then scooted forward for driving.
My co-worker had function of everything but her legs. Life for her in the office was even tough. We found that the cement that was poured creating a mini ramp for her and the walker was narrow and hard to use. It often was easier for her to sit on the walker and have us wheel her in because of the limited space to turn. The other issue we found is that the entry door was not flush and the hump to get her over was always a bit of a challenge. It was easier for her to shuffle her feet then to step so these obstacles made it even more challenging for her to move.
The installation of handicap ramps makes life more accessible to people using walkers, wheelchairs and scooters to get around. It is also important that we look at the things in our lives and start to view then from the perspective of someone that does not have use of both of their legs. Stores should make sure their clothing racks are accessible to those who require more open spacing. Aisles need to be constructed so that they are accessible to wheelchairs and walkers without trouble. Think about these struggles the next time you are out and about. I bet you will see things a bit differently.
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