Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cities Are Not Truly Accessible For Disabled Individuals

Like any other group of young women, my friends and I enjoy a good adventure. We are similar to most mid twenties tourists, excited about the many shops to peruse, landmarks to view, and little hole in the wall bakeries to visit! Only, there is something that separates us from every other tourists out and about -- my friends and I are all battling serious illnesses which leave us bound to mobility aids, and medical equipment. Two women in our group are wheelchair dependent, and I myself require supplemental oxygen which is dragged behind me on a cart. 

It quickly became apparent while we traveled the cities, and their most popular destinations, that the majority of locations were not made properly handicap accessible. While the ADA claims that all cities are required to have specific pedestrian accommodations for disabled individuals which aid us in our travels, we found the accommodations to be anything but adequate. Particularly, when it came to the side walks, and curb ramps, we found the ADA requirements were simply not met in almost every area we traveled to. Curb ramps were too narrow, too lopsided, too steep, or completely unusable due to damage. I watched as my two friends struggled to ascend and descend these treacherous entry and exit points to the safety of a sidewalk. I mentally cringed each time their wheels would dip due to an uneven sidewalk, or when the angle of a ramp would bring them too fast into the road. Perhaps worst of all were the extremely lopsided curb ramps that left one wheel in the air with the other still on the ground! Luckily there were kind passerby who saved my companions from a few messy wheelchair mishaps. Unfortunately, not everyone shared that kind of compassion for those of us struggling to travel a supposedly 'accessible city'. 

As we neared a ramp to travel across a busy down town street we found ourselves fully blocked by a large black SUV flaunting an Uber Driver decal. The little black box across the street deemed it the pedestrian turns to travel by displaying a brightly lit walking man; however, my friends and I couldn't exit the curb due to this large vehicles position in front of the curb ramp. I attempted to communicate with the driver, who refused to roll down his window. At this point I was a tad bit frustrated. I attempted to express we couldn't cross until he moved his SUV with hand motions, and loud "speaking", but my efforts fell on uncaring ears. We watched as the pedestrian signed turned to a bright red hand, expressing we had missed our turn to cross. I continued in my attempt to communicate with the driver through his tightly shut window when his passengers walked up behind us, "Um excuse me that's our Uber" said the first man. Trying to explain the situation to the group so they could help us explain the situation to the driver, the man looked at us and said, "well we need to get in, that's our Uber." I stared at this man shocked, as we waited for the party of at least six people to pack into the vehicle as we missed yet another pedestrian turn to cross. 

Situations like this are not only highly illegal, but extremely demeaning to disabled individuals. We are just like any other travelers, hoping to enjoy our experience with friends, yet due to our mobility aids, are treated as less than human. Someday I hope to see city improvement on sidewalks, especially curb ramps, so groups of individuals like ourselves can enjoy a trip without complications. I would also like to see transportation services have better training on where they can legally park their vehicles while passengers board. 


  1. Wow call access living in Chicago they. Will help 31264021000