DEAR CONCERNED FRIENDS,
I can’t imagine a world without ADA (American with Disabilities Act, 1990, and subsequent amendments.) It allows me and other people with disabilities to be treated like the average person in public areas. The law cannot make a blind person see, nor can it make a person in a wheelchair walk, but it sure makes things a lot easier.
For instance, movie theaters now have viewing areas for handicapped people and their companions. In the past, these viewing areas were located in the first row of the theater where no one wanted to sit, but recent amendments and court cases have improved that issue. More needs to be done to ensure that handicapped people are not forced to sit in front sections that are still too close to the screen. With new amendments to ADA law, future construction must now arrange accommodations in various areas of the theater that are comparable to seating of non-handicapped people. That is such a win for us!
In Theme Parks
Sea World is one of my favorite places. This organization saves the lives of many endangered sea animals, brings them back to health and then releases them back into their natural environment. Sea World also does research which helps the world in many ways, and I know that they treat the animals there well. They are constantly searching for ways to improve the quality of life for their sea life. Sea World got a lot of bad hype from a recent movie which contained many unverified and false facts. I would love to work at Sea World again someday. It is a happy place.
Sea World has great seating for handicapped people, and these benefits continue to improve. The problem is that many times, my family and I go there only to find that most of this special seating is taken up with people who are not handicapped and who are not companions of handicapped people. For instance, some people think that because they have children and strollers that they are entitled to sit in handicapped seating. They are wrong. These people can pick up their children and walk up into the stands like anyone else who can walk.
When I was little, my parents did not use handicapped seating or parking (and sometimes still do not) because I was so small that my parents could carry me wherever we had to go. We did not want to take up any space that a handicapped person would need. Now that I am grown up, I do not appreciate going to see Shamu shows only to find that there is nowhere for me to sit because every place is taken up with able-bodied people. We have spoken with staff at Sea World and have been told that they are not allowed to ask the person if they are handicapped, or require them to bring proof (Disneyland also says this), but I take issue with this. I am continually required to prove that I am still handicapped, over and over again. Even though doctors have verified on multiple occasions since my birth that my condition is permanent, I am still required to submit proof of disability to the gym, swim programs, camps, and many other types of programs
I am told by a staff member at Sea World that the theme park is taking further steps to eliminate the problem of non-handicapped people racing to the handicapped benches and filling them quickly by allowing handicapped people to enter shows first.
Disneyland has made some recent progress in this area as well with fast passes for handicapped people. There is still much that needs to be done.
Another example of ADA laws that help handicapped people is with public restrooms. I guess someone would have to hold it all day before the invention of ADA restrooms. Now I am sure most people have noticed the larger bathrooms with safety bars, which are located in most places. There are still some public areas that do not comply with ADA regulations. I have had the displeasure of finding some of those places. Often it is a restroom which looks ADA compliant when one first walks in, but then as soon as a handicapped person attempts to enter the larger, supposedly accessible bathroom, they might discover a slightly larger stall, but one in which a wheelchair can barely enter, let alone turn around. I have been stuck in bathrooms like that where my care provider needed to take me out of the chair and walk me in. There was no way that I could do this safely by myself, and in many of these bathrooms I also needed to leave the door open to allow my care provider to assist. What would someone do who is independent in a wheelchair if they came upon a stall (like many I have seen) that is not big enough for their wheelchair to enter or leave? I am not naming names at this time because the intent is not to cause problems for anyone, but to inform and seek improvement.
I have encountered many places that need remodeling in order to be in compliance with the law. Restrooms at schools are usually ADA compliant. One place that comes to mind right now that did have plenty of room (even more than necessary) was Tom Ham’s Lighthouse where some of my family members like to go to eat for birthdays and other occasions. It has great views as well as gourmet food. Thank you Tom Ham’s!
Handicapped parking laws have been wonderful for handicapped people. Sometimes there are not enough spaces like at the Public Library in North Clairemont where there is only one accessible parking spot for the entire lot, and most of the people who go there need that one spot. Other places seem to have too many designated accessible spots so that non-handicapped people have nowhere to park. Fortunately, stiff fines prevent many people from abusing the law regarding parking in these special spots reserved for handicapped people. It is important for people to provide feedback to those places which need additional handicapped parking, as well as those that might have more than necessary. It is also vital that incidents of abuse regarding non-handicapped people using these valuable spots be reported. Those individuals who are not handicapped and who are not accompanying a handicapped person, but who use handicapped placards of relatives or friends for their own convenience, should have the fleas of 1,000 camels infest their arm pits. However, that is not a subject of ADA compliance. For further discussion regarding parking issues and misuse, please read my previous blog postings.
I urge everyone to take the time and report incidents regarding ADA violations, whether it be with a bathroom that is not large enough or that does not have a hook for a purse, or if someone is misusing parking spaces. There may be another entire problem that might need to be reported, such as areas that are not accessible at all, including walkways and porches. I attend school at a site where I am very happy, but today, I realized that the latch on the handicapped stall in the women’s bathroom near my class has been broken for over a year. Sometimes an improvement can be something as simple as reporting a small problem to an administrator in charge. This could make life easier for a handicapped person.
My family once stayed at a hotel where we reserved an accessible room far in advance. The room was not accessible in the least. We could not even get from the parking lot to the unit, which had a porch to climb, and once inside the unit, the bathroom had no bath chair, rails, or hand-held faucet. Other than one short bar on the side of the tub, there was virtually no way a handicapped person could use that tub or shower. Our two-day stay was ruined, and we had to spend most of the time on the phone and at the front desk or with a handyman in our room.
Below is the link for the ADA website, as well as phone numbers:
www.ADA.gov; 800-514-0301 (Voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY). Please check out the site and report any problem that you see so that improvements can continually move forward for the lives of people with disabilities.
♥ THANK YOU VERY MUCH! ♥