Monday, July 26, 2010

20 Years Later Business are Still Whining Over the ADA

If you are not disabled, you have no idea what it is like to negotiate a world that was built to suit the needs of the TAB.  Before the ADA, a simple thing like a curb that had no cut, made life extremely difficult.  Though I currently live in Ontario, Canada I can report first hand that a lack of accommodations amount to more than an inconvenience, they are a sever barrier to living life.  In an article by CNN discussing some of the issues with the ADA, the ableism is positively palpable. Here are a few of the complaints they chose to publish:

As the anniversary approached, an internet chat board sampling turned up countless positive comments but also many critical ones.

''ADA laws have been interpreted, reinterpreted and misinterpreted so many times that unfortunately nobody has a final answer until you end up in court,'' one posting complained.

On, a forum for plumbers, a comment poked fun at requirements for urinal heights in public restrooms, saying, ''Listen, a handicapped person ain't gonna use a urinal to begin with.''
On another site, a post by a self-described business owner says, "I spent thousands of dollars complying with the ADA laws. I then get a letter in the mail from someone that is disabled that came into my establishment notifying me of all my violations.''

''One was that the toilet paper dispenser in the restroom was three inches off the required ADA position,'' the posting said.

"What disabled person goes around with a tape measure? I could smell a lawsuit and immediately fixed all the minor items.''

''While I understand the idea behind the law, it is definitely not being used as it was intended.''
This entire article makes it seem like disabled people are just greedy whiners looking for an excuse to sue.  And this is the image that CNN thought was appropriate to display on the twentieth anniversary of the ADA.  One person above went on and on about the changes ze had made to be compliant, but when it turned out that ze had missed several things, apparently it was only commented on because the disabled person wanted to sue. These so-called changes may have been minor to hir, but for someone who is differently abled, they very well could have amounted to the difference between accessibility and exclusion.

I have written about the various stores I cannot enter with my scooter, the bathrooms that I can only use because I have not lost the ability to be completely mobile and the effect that has not only me, but my family.  To see this tool relate the right of a disabled persons to have an active life, to a desire to pursue a nuisance suit is enraging.  It is the TAB that are obsessed with money we just want the chance to participate.

Also, the constant insinuation that the disabled should be grateful for the accommodations is insulting.  If these businesses had cared about the differently abled in the first place, they would not have been placed in the position to have to spend money on these alterations.  It is continually suggested that money is somehow worth more than the ability of someone to participate.  It seems that from this entire article, that many would be happy if the disabled were once again locked away in homes, so that they could continue their happy able-bodied lives free of nuisance. 

Today when I went to the pharmacy, people tripped over themselves to get the door for me.  I could not help but notice how easy it is to offer me help when I don't need it, but when I want and desperately need a real accommodation, suddenly I am being difficult, or imposing my will upon others. Because there is such a large social myth that generally speaking, people are nice to the disabled, the very large barriers we face to access are easily ignored.  I don't know a disabled person that wants pity, but I do know plenty that just want to be able to go about their day like anyone else.  The ADA may have improved access, but it seems that attitudes have a long way to go.

H/T GUS aka Allison McCarthy