Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A word about accessibility

I have to admit, experiencing the past 10+ weeks as a "disabled" person has really opened my eyes. Getting around on crutches isn't easy, even when places are (supposedly) ADA (Title III) compliant. Especially in restaurants. My question is, does someone actually come out to the new building and CHECK to see if what has been designed really is usable?

For instance, there's a restaurant my hubby and I have gone to a few times - before my broken leg. I haven't really had any trouble there before, though I noted that the doors to the toilet stalls were rather heavy. Then, we went recently, with me on crutches. I remembered they had a handicap stall, so off I went to take care of the necessity....And ye gods!! I had to use some mighty fancy maneuvering, as well as really test my balance on my crutches, just to get INTO the stall! After business was done, I went to attempt to get OUT of the stall. And nearly got pushed off my feet.

Now those of you who know me know I'm not that little. I'm about 5'4" in shoes, and weigh over 130#...In trying to get out of that stall, I had to grab the lever, turn and pull on it with my right hand while bracing my left foot and crutch to grab all of the leverage weight. Then, once I had the door open, I had to let go of it and very quickly maneuver my right crutch up to brace the door open (supporting me AND the weight of the door). Then I had to scoot out of the stall, making sure my right crutch stayed in place so the door wouldn't slam into me....though it still slammed when I was finally out.

So I ask you - does anyone ever CHECK buildings for their ADA Title III compliance, or do they just check the architectural drawings to make sure there's enough clearance for a wheelchair? And what about those places that don't have wheelchair accessibility? Yes, people on crutches are a bit more mobile, but not by a lot. Steps, narrow aisles, heavy doors....yeah, so what if you have a grab-bar in the bathroom, if a person can't even get there it's rather pointless.


Philosophic Bard said...

My lovely wife did her senior project about just this issue. As a recreation therapy major, she focussed on local parks/playgrounds and gyms/rec centers, but even at these places that appear to be wide open and easily accessed by anyone were lacking.

On a sunnier note, click HERE to watch an episode of the British sitcom "The IT Crowd," where Roy is "disabled." It's quite good.

I'll write soon. There's all kinds of craziness going on right now, and this is the first chance I've had to breathe for about a week. Cheers

Philosophic Bard said...

I'm not sure why that link didn't work. Just ^C, ^V this into your browser:



Catarina said...

My brother is a venue manager (as you know). . . . Yes, they absolutely do come out and check for ADA compliance and there are heavy fines levied if they are warned once and then still don't comply (that's my understanding of it, anyway).

A little googlin' turned up this ADA rule for restrooms:

"All interior doors (including toilet partition doors) must push or pull open with a maximum of 5 pounds of force."

If you think the place you went to doesn't meet that criterion, you should let them know! (Or notify an appropriate authority so they can be officially warned.) It could be potentially even more unpleasant for someone with a more serious disability.

wordwitch said...

Hey Catarina - took me a few minutes to figure out who you were!! Long time no hear.

As for the restaurant...I definitely think it takes more than 5 pounds of force to open the toilet doors! The rest. is in Silver Spring....who would I look to, to "report" them?