Yes, I do expect to go inside!
I just wanted ice cream and chocolates
Have you ever been lifted by four politicians, just to get into the grand opening of a new chocolate/ice cream hotspot in your town? I have, the grand opening was announced of Lovebites Cafe, I was so excited, I love chocolate and ice cream. I imagined how wonderful the smell of chocolate and homemade ice cream smelled. I went to the grand opening but found I couldn't get in because of the step. I was lucky enough to have four politicians that saw to it that I got inside. They lifted me up like I was queen, I was so excited to have received such attention and so happy to be able to go inside. My dreams were soon shattered when no one paid any attention to me and I got my ice cream and then needed to leave. The problem was I needed those four politicians again. They soon came to my recuse and I was safely back on the sidewalk. I have not been back since. Clearly from the "watch your step" sign, I am not the only one with an issue with the step. One would have thought that the store owner would have rectified the situation but they have not.
I just wanted a hamburger and shake
Have you ever had to walk past the front entrance, around to the back of the building at night, past all the trash cans and employees on their break, through the busy dining area, to the front of the building to get in line to order a hamburger at Steak & Shake or do you walk through the front door? I have to take a long way and have pictures to prove it.
Pictures above show the long walk around the corner, past the stairs to the entrance, and down a dimly lit path. Past employee break chairs, past the garbage cans, and finally to the top access area of the restaurant
Separate but equal?
Everything is not always wheelchair accessible. Even when they say it is, I've been forced to go into a separate entrance, from going through dark alleyways to going through kitchens & side entrances. That’s where most places have their accessible ramps for me. Every time I go through these separate doors, a little part of me feels inhumane & it makes me feel like I don’t belong at that particular establishment. It makes me wish sometimes that I could walk, just to be able to walk through the front door as everybody else can. I, unfortunately, face this more times than I can count. Even in my hometown, 75% of the businesses are not accessible to me, either because of steps or because they don’t have a curb cut near them.
No lamps today
One particular instance that sticks out in my mind is I had gone to a lamp showroom with some friends & we saw the steps so we went looking around the side of the place to find a side entrance. One of my friends went inside to ask the associate where their accessible entrance was, they were told there wasn't one. We were all shocked, to say the least, because this looked like a more modernized building. I got the business card but my friends decided after this happened that they would not go back there.
No grandfather clause in the ADA
That's not the first time I have either walked out or not gone into an establishment because of a lack of accessibility. Many people use the excuse of being “grandfathered” in. What they think they are talking about is that the ADA laws grandfather certain buildings. This is simply not true. Businesses and facilities are required to provide reasonable access and accommodations. This applies to all businesses open to the public no matter the size. That is why I often enter businesses through the back door, it's considered a reasonable accommodation.
How long does it take to get a rainbow bagel?
The law did not expect small businesses to go bankrupt to provide accessibility. The requirements for buildings built after 1993 are less stringent but if modifications are made to the existing space the building is required to meet the current standard. I am not an ADA expert but there are some simple fixes. Provide portable ramps that benefit not only the disabled but also people with children and the elderly. Post a sign with a number to call to have a store attendant help you, similar to curbside pick up. Every time I can’t get into a business I am reminded of one of my favorite videos from Zach Anner, a fellow disabled person, and advocate. His mission was to get a rainbow bagel, a simple task one would think but it took 8 hours. Fixes don’t have to be expensive, consider the business lost to those unable to get inside.
See my value
As a person with a disability, I don’t demand that every barrier be removed for me, I just want to be seen as a valuable customer like everyone else. I want to go inside and buy things and try things on or even use the bathroom. This leads me to other incidents that occurred with the dressing rooms and bathrooms but that is for another blog post. I know everyone wants to use the larger room, and so do I, it's the only one I fit into. As much as this pains me, If I let these obstacles stop me from living my life, I would go nowhere.
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to hear why it's not important to me that you are pet friendly and The View From My Wheelchair.