The Americans With Disabilities Act is a joke. It’s revision in 2009 is more of a joke. It’s a wide-ranging civil rights law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination. After spending hours going through it in a vain attempt to understand it, I understand next to nothing. But I am willing to bet on one thing…the committee who created that act did not have any idea of what a disabled person needs.
“Reasonable accommodations.” I read the words reasonable accommodations thousands of times throughout the ADA and I still have no idea what it means. That’s probably because in the Americans With Disabilities Act, it doesn’t tell you what it means. It simply states over and over and over again that individuals with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations in society.
Jobs, public transportation, public and commercial entities… All are mentioned in the ADA as being places and circumstances where “individuals with disabilities should not be excluded.” In my experience, it’s safe to say I am “excluded” from 90% of the commercial and municipal establishments I visit. I have to be very relentless and demand to be accommodated so I can enjoy and experience what I came to. Sometimes people are happy to try to accommodate you. Sometimes it’s the last thing they want to do.
I spent an hour in my car yesterday as My Mike and I waited for takeout from a lovely, elegant restaurant because I could not fit into their establishment. It was street-level, without steps to get in, so that part was fine. But once inside, nothing fit. The tables were too small for a wheelchair, the bathroom was “accessible”, but there was not enough room for me to get into it. Bathroom accessibility is always a crap shoot for me, anyway. All commercial establishments have to do is have two grab bars in their bathroom to be ADA compliant. I’m paralyzed. What will grab bars do for me?
“Reasonable accommodations” in the job market is another joke. At any individual’s place of employment, you need to be able to get into the front door and use the bathroom, at the very, very least. So many commercial buildings have ramps with two or three steps at the end of them that you need to go up to get inside. If I could walk up steps, would I need a ramp?
Next, there is the environment inside the workplace. Phones you cannot use, desks you cannot fit under and computers you cannot use. How well is any individual going to perform their job if they don’t have what they need in their workplace to excel at it?
The ADA states that if an individual with a disability needs a certain accommodation outside of the workplace, the workplace is not obligated to accommodate that individual. I wouldn’t expect open arms with a wheelchair waiting for me at my job, but some very inexpensive software so my computer is voice activated (which I need at home, as well ) and a card table as a desk that I can fit under is not too much to ask.
The last job I had working out of the home had phones I couldn’t use and a bathroom the size of a hall closet. I had to bring my own computer, external mouse and cell phone with me every day so I could do my work. Believe me, I was not comfortable. I couldn’t even fit into the break room, so I ate my lunch outside. Luckily, this took place in Southern California, so I was able to eat in a warm environment. When I moved on from that job, I made a promise to myself I would never again work for a company that didn’t think I was worth accommodating.
There needs to be a law that is universally accommodating. It should be created by people with all types of disabilities for people with all types of disabilities…Individuals living with blindness, deafness, paralysis and other physical, mental, emotional and developmental challenges that put them in the minority category of needing things a bit different. If our government can put together a group of individuals that made it possible for a man to walk on the moon, they should be able to put together a group of individuals that can accomplish this.