What Does ”Wheelchair Accessible” Really mean?
When a place, particularly a business, claims to be wheelchair accessible, a lot of times it really isn’t – it is only accessible to the minimal required standards. So many places I have gone to that say they are fully accessible have merely an automatic door opening button, and a support bar next to the toilet. Sure, that may be fine for people who are able to use their arms well and able to transfer themselves, but what about the more severely disabled that require much more assistance? I, personally, am completely dependent and need to use a lift to transfer, and you would be surprised how difficult it is to find a hotel room with a bed that has a space underneath to allow for a Hoyer lift to slide under.
Society needs to think more about the disabled community and cater to their needs a little more, instead of only making places as minimally accessible as the law states. How often do you, as a wheelchair-bound person or someone accompanying one, go to a shop only to find that you can’t even get in because the aisles are too narrow? People often don’t think about these kinds of things, and it’s a shame that we have to miss out on so much because of the fact that we are an often forgotten minority.
The best thing to do would be to have some people that are in wheelchairs on the council when the city is discussing making a place accessible, that way they can get ideas from the ones that know what is required or what would be ideal, then they can ensure that the physically disabled can be included and partake in more activities that able-bodied people can. The next time you encounter somewhere that cannot accommodate you, write a quick letter, phone call, e-mail, etc… to your mayor to suggest ways of making changes to resolve the issue. If enough people do this, the city may better consider our special needs and make the necessary alterations – together we can make a difference!