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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Happy Birthday ADA!

On this date in 1990, the Americans with Disability Act was signed into federal law. I actually remember watching the evening news and seeing the video clip of the law being signed. I remember thinking that this was a good thing for handicapped people, but I certainly never felt vested in the legislation. After all, I wasn't disabled and it really didn't impact me.

Oh, the naivete of youth! Little did I know that I would be inducted into the disabled community and would come to rely upon the parameters of this law. The curb cuts, the ramps, even the handicapped parking spaces that I utilize are all the results of this legislation.

My disability didn't occur until this law was tested, enacted and enforced. Fortunately I have never had to struggle with access to public buildings. I came to take the accessibility options for granted and never really thought about how lucky I was to live in a society where they were required. My recent trip to the Bahamas was certainly enlightening!

One of the first things that caught my attention was the lack of accessibility offered at our resort. The sprawling resort had more staircases than I could count but no ramps. Luckily, I am able to maneuver the steps. If I had been confined to a wheelchair or had increased mobility issues, my access to the resort would have been substantially limited.

After noticing the lack of ramps, Scott and I began to note other differences in accessibility. The buffet was presented at chest level which meant that somebody in a wheelchair would not have been able to fill a plate. Of course, the flight of stairs that had to be traversed before getting to the restaurant was probably an ample barrier to keep the wheelchairs away. Other than being on the first floor, my "handicapped accessible room" afforded none of the common features I find in the hotel rooms in the US. There were no grab bars in the bathroom, the doorway was Bahama-sized (i.e. small) and the beds were especially tall. I am not sure why my room was classified as "accessible" because it didn't even account for my basic needs. It took my talking to three people to secure a shower bench, and even that was nothing more than a plastic beach chair.

When we stayed at a resort in Florida before our cruise, a plank board path led from the walkway to the ocean. Walking on the boards made it so much easier for me to get to the beach! In the Bahamas, the walkway ended at- you guessed it- a flight of steep stairs which led to the sand. 

Despite the lack of accommodations, we had a wonderful time on our trip. The purpose of this blog is not to diss the Bahamas but rather to show my appreciation for the Americans with Disability Act. Because of this legislation, I don't have to struggle with access. The Bahamas was beautiful to visit, but the disregard for the basic needs for handicapped individuals was surprising.

At first Scott and I were both shocked by the lack of ramps, elevators and other accommodations that I rely upon. We were at the resort for several days before we both had an epiphany and credited the ADA for the differences. If this legislation had not been passed 23 years ago, I am certain that my experiences as a disabled woman would be completely different. 

Society is not perfect and flaws still exist. There remains a lot of work that needs to be done before we have a completely inclusive infrastructure. That being acknowledged, I am thankful to be living in a country which attempts to provide access for all individuals. The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas was beautiful, but it makes me sad that many of my amputee friends would find it more frustrating than fun.

1 comment:

  1. Europe is even worse - the buildings are so old and I don't want them to change them BUT.... I am able to do some stairs too but I also rely on my wheelchair to get around too so it is a double edge sword. I just see and do what I can do and just be happy that I am able to do what I can.... AW the life of us...