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Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

— Helen Keller

Today's column wraps up some thoughts I've been sharing about disabilities, handicap parking and the problems that arise for people with limited mobility.

For many, a sore foot or aching back seem overwhelming, but imagine those whose aches, pains and problems don't eventually "just go away."

My interest was originally piqued by a reader, Cynthia, who related experiences that were furniture-related. Her problems had ranged from rickety chairs to chairs that were too narrow or low, or had no arms to help the user stand up.

She mentioned bad moments in movie theaters with seats that were rather concave and bucket-like. (Some of the upgraded theaters have more user-friendly chairs now.) She wrote that she takes her rolling walker — which includes a seat — and sits on it during the movie to make a statement.

I asked readers if they'd had similar problems with inaccessible public spaces and I got several stories. None horrific, just annoying.

Suzanne wrote that she has had heart bypass surgery and has respiratory problems. She has a handicapped placard and drives a van because it is more comfortable and easy to get in and out of than a car.

She feels that people are probably judging her as just being "lazy and overweight," but as we know, not all disabilities are visible.

Suzanne mentioned an incident that happened when she was helping a friend who was having dental work that required major anesthesia. She had parked in a regular handicap spot and brought her still-loopy friend out to the car in a wheelchair. As she was opening her car door, a young woman in a large SUV pulled in beside her, totally oblivious to the struggle Suzanne was having trying to get her friend into the van in the small space.

The woman's parking job left no room for the wheelchair to get by or for the van door to swing open. The woman smiled brightly, said hello, and dashed into a nearby nail salon.

Suzanne's friend had to board via the sliding back door of the van and sit back there. And it was pretty much due to someone who just didn't pay attention to what was happening right in front of her.

Suzanne went through similar experiences when driving her elderly mother around after her mother had a below-the-knee amputation of her leg.

Doug emailed with a comment about Americans With Disabilities Act laws in regard to gas stations. He wonders why some laws are not being enforced.

He says, "They post a sign saying that they'll gladly provide fueling services for handicapped motorists when more than one person is on duty at the business. But then some stations operate with only [one] person per shift 7 days a week, 24 hours a day."

And there are those stations that don't have a restroom for motorists. Doing a bit of research, I learned that local health department regulations govern which businesses are required to have public restrooms, and laws vary from place to place. The Americans With Disabilities Act has rules regarding public restrooms when it comes to the pathway to and into the room, the stalls and layout, but none that say public places are required to offer bathrooms to the public or to the disabled.

There are solutions to the problem, Doug says, but often no one wants to bear the costs of solving them.

Lastly, I received an email from Megan from BraunAbility, a company that builds wheelchair-accessible vehicles and lifts. The company came up with a "Save My Spot" campaign to educate the public about handicap parking.

It has a funny and informative video starring comedian Zach Anner and information about self-sticking "parking tickets" that can be placed on vehicles whose owners misuse a handicap spot. They have a friendly tone to deliver the message in a nonthreatening way.

As Megan says, maybe the problem is a lack of awareness and not just a lack of regard that leads to abuse or misuse of parking spots designated for those with disabilities.

Email me at:

rboggs@arkansasonline.com

Style on 09/09/2019

Print Headline: Handicap accessibility takes a village

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