11 June 2006

Now for my comments!

First off, in my opinion the lawsuit is frivilous. The city does try to make things as accessible as possible for handicapped people. There are far more businesses that are inaccsible to worry about here.

The beach access I live closest to has no steps blocking the beach from the parking lot. The only steps are to the deck with benches. Would I ever attempt to take a non-beach going wheelchair onto the beach at any of our local beaches? Not a chance. It's simply too soft of sand. As for the port-o-potties....even not being in a wheelchair but having mobility problems, I'd not dream of using the handicapped port-o-potties. They're just not convenient to any area I frequent. But, public restrooms are a habitual problem here in MB anyway. There simply aren't enough and permananet public restrooms are a joke here. So the fact that the city has even attempted to provide what is considered accessible (by port-o-potty standards) tells me that they don't have it in for handicapped people.

I also wonder if by chance the information given to handicapped people by locals who are clueless what the city offers doesn't come into play here somewhat. As a former hospitality worker, I had to ask the right questions to be able to help the handicapped guests I had contact with. Most people did not know what the answers to questions such as "where do I find a beach-going wheelchair or handicapped accessible beach access?".

As for the editorial about disability being the problem of the disabled person not the city....I don't fully agree there either. As a nation we have laws to protect the disabled. Without those laws, there likely would be little accessibility in any public place. I don't wish to rely on the kindness of strangers in regards to access to public places. I've had problems in stores in this area that were only resolved by explaining to management that unless changes were made, I'd be filing a formal complaint with the ADA.

It is unfortunate that in one particular store the access was less of an issue than the attitude of the manager and clerk I spoke to. It took going farther up the chain to get changes made. I do not think that a store clerk needs to ignore a handicapped person that is speaking to them from a wheelchair in favor of speaking to the person's companion. I dared shop at Christmas time in a wheelchair and made a complaint about aisles not being wide enough. My husband was pushing my wheelchair and despite him not opening his mouth, the clerk directed his comments to my husband. I spoke to someone in management who assured me the store manager would contact me and that never happened. So, I went up the chain. I was able to share with the district manager some info not only on the accessibility laws but also some training guides for how employees should deal with handicapped people. The last time I was in that store, I did not speak to the staff (as that was a good day where I was walking) but did notice aisles were improved.

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