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Thread: Accessibility-related experiences from around the world

  1. #1

    Accessibility-related experiences from around the world

    you may post personal experiences (or otherwise) here.

  2. #2

    Monday, September 12, 2016
    CHICAGO (WLS) -- College students who use a wheelchair should not be stopped from getting education because of their disability. A Malcolm X student said she is frustrated by the challenges she has faced.

    Ever since she was shot in the head 10 years ago, Ryann Brown has been determined to live on her own. The 28-year-old has limited use of the right side of her body and a wheelchair is how she gets around.

    Pursing a degree in mortuary science, Brown was excited to start at the brand new, state-of-the-art Malcolm X College until she says she could not access the classrooms, computer labs and bathrooms.

    "I can't access them without assistance," Brown said. "I worked hard to gain my own independence. That to me is a slap in the face."

    While the doors from the outside have powered door openers, Brown says nothing inside does. Her cell phone video shows how she struggles to keep the bathroom door open long enough to get her wheelchair through the door.

    "I can either catch someone coming out of the bathroom and tell them to hold it for me, or I have to push door with my wheel chair," Brown said.

    Brown emailed the college president. He rectified the situation by putting door stoppers on her classroom and a nearby bathroom, but Brown says when she tried gaining access, the doors were still closed.

    According to the Great Lakes ADA Center, Malcolm X meets the minimal accessibility requirements under the American Disabilities Act. However, because it is a public school, the law may require the college to go above and beyond.

    "While the standards say you don't have to put a powered door opener as part of accessibility requirements, there may be requirements to program access requirements," said Peter Berg, Great Lakes ADA Center.

    In a written statement, Malcolm X College says through City Colleges Disability Access Centers, it is committed to providing access to all students. The center offered Brown an aide to help her gain access to classrooms and bathrooms, but Brown turned the offer down.


  3. #3
    Cinema turns friendly to the wheelchair-bound

    Thiruvananthapuram, India
    September 16, 2016

    Thirty six-year-old Binu Salam broke his spinal cord 17 years ago when a tree branch crashed down on him.

    Since then, he has been using a wheelchair to move around. ö was a special day for Salam, for it was the first time since that incident that he was wheeling into a cinema theatre.

    “The lack of ramps in public places hampers our movement. Theatres are no different. With steep steps and no ramps, they are out of bounds for people like me. I love to watch movies, but I have to be content watching it on television, and never on the big screen,” says Mr. Salam.

    He and 17 other wheelchair-bound persons came to catch one of the Onam releases at the Ariesplex theatres here, which had added a ramp at the entry point to facilitate the movement of wheel-chairs.

    ‘Freedom on wheels’

    The group was here as part of the ‘Freedom on wheels’ group, which campaigns for the rights of wheelchair-dependant people.

    “For the past six years, our group has been raising the issues faced by people like us at various levels.

    Small changes are now being seen. For instance, now Raj Bhavan, Cliff House, and a few other government offices have become wheelchair-friendly, with ramps adjacent to steps,” says George K. Thomas, one of the founders of ‘Freedom on wheels.’

    The group wore white T-shirts carrying their messages and sat on the front two rows at the theatre.

    “We can’t sit still for a long time. We have to do hand push-ups on the seat after every 15 minutes to ease the muscles,” says Mr. Salam.

  4. #4
    Wheelchair access a big challenge in town (Tunkhannock, Wyoming)

    SEPTEMBER 21, 2016


    To the average person, a sidewalk slab raised three inches presents little obstacle in walking to one’s destination.

    But to someone in a wheelchair, that three inch rise can seem as insurmountable as a mountain, turning a short trip into nightmare as they struggle across terrain which wouldn’t even be a minor hindrance to those who can walk.

    Doreen Fowler of Tunkhannock has been experiencing those problems first hand. Although she can walk, Fowler has problems with her legs that requires her to use a wheelchair to alleviate the situation.

    But using a wheelchair to get about outdoors is no easy task in many sections of the borough. Fowler has discovered the streets are in such as state of disrepair in many areas where the sidewalks are uneven.

    “It was so bad, the wheelchair tipped over from one,” Fowler explained. “There are tree roots, lifting up the sidewalks.”

    Fowler said that she runs into many dips in the sidewalks, usually around the residential areas. Places where she’s had trouble traveling include sections of Tioga Street and Main Street.

    “There’s an extremely bad one near the Soup Kitchen (on Warren Street),” Fowler said. “There’s another near the Wyoming County Historical Society. The sidewalks are broken up. I have to lift the chair more than two to three inches.”

    Although she hasn’t been hurt getting around in a wheelchair, it is extremely difficult and frustrating when Fowler encounters such obstacles.

    “Sometimes I have to go into someone’s yard because the sidewalks are so uneven,” she explained.

    Asked about the situation, Tunkhannock Borough Councilman Robert Robinson, who is the head of the street committee, said he has not been contacted by Fowler. But he confirmed that many sections of sidewalks are in ‘deplorable’ condition.

    “It is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain them,” Robinson explained.

    However, he also said that Tunkhannock has an ordinance, requiring property owners see to the proper upkeep of their sidewalks.

    Section 9 of the ordinance, dealing with Public Safety, reads as follows: “It shall be the duty of the owners of the land abutting any curbs, and/or sidewalks to keep them in such repair and condition that they may not be or become dangerous to the welfare and safety of the traveling public.”

    Also contained in the ordinance is a provision, declaring that it will be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Robinson said the problem with the sidewalks has been an on-going one for many years. The borough has the option of sending a letter property owners whose sidewalks are in disrepair, informing them that the situation must be corrected within 30 days.

    The Center for Independent Living in Scranton is an advocacy group which provides support to people in wheelchairs and other handicapped situations. Keith Williams, an advocacy and outreach coordinator for the organization, confirmed that people in wheelchairs often have a difficult time using sidewalks.

    “A lot of sidewalks are not accessible,” Williams said. “The curb cuts might be good, but the sidewalks in between are not. Tree roots often push up the sidewalks, making them uneven. This is what a person in a wheelchair runs into a lot of times when traveling down a sidewalk.”

    Even though municipalities like Tunkhannock have ordinances requiring sidewalks to be properly maintained, enforcement is often a problem. Williams explained that he’s attended many local government meetings to address the issue.

    “It’s tough,” Williams said about the situation.

    On one side are people who are in wheelchairs, requiring sidewalks be in good repair so they can easily travel across them. On the other side, many property owners cannot afford the expense up bringing their sidewalks up to code, making it very difficult to find a solution to the problem.

    Williams explained that he can identified with people who are confined to wheelchairs because he himself has used a motorized wheelchair all his life.

    Asked what people in wheelchairs can do who encounter impassable sidewalks, Williams said what he does is check out the nearest driveways. He uses a driveway to access the street, then travels down the street, hugging as close to the curb as possible. Williams travels on the road until he comes to another driveway or a curb cut past the bad section of sidewalk.

    Williams admitted that this is not the best solution to the problem but it is sometimes unavoidable.


  5. #5
    Lack of accessible lavatories in flights

    Sep 20, 2016

    To prepare for a recent five-hour flight from Seattle to Washington Dulles, Lee Page, senior associate advocacy director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, followed his usual pattern of dehydrating himself the day before an afternoon flight. For Page, who has used a wheelchair for 33 years since a car accident, and others like him, taking a trip is no easy task.

    “Someone with catastrophic disability such as paralysis has no access to the lavatory right now,” Page said. “For me to get on a flight, there’s a lot more to it."

    About two-thirds of the 931 disabled people surveyed for the department in July told the Paralyzed Veteran that inability to use the lavatory is reason enough to avoid flying.

    Lavatories in the narrow, single-aisle planes can be cramped and difficult to reach with even a narrow, on-board wheelchair designed for the plane. Some thresholds have bumps. Doors face each other across the aisle, leaving little room to maneuver in privacy.

    Aircraft manufacturers say they have solutions. Boeing offers options for lavatories that are large enough or convertible for an assisted transfer from a wheelchair to a toilet, said spokesman Bret Jensen.

    Airbus' “Space Flex” design for its A320 aircraft uses a partition to convert two rear lavatories into a fully accessible restroom. Virgin America has 10 aircraft in its fleet that offer the benefit of a quick conversion for guests with reduced mobility, spokesman Christie O’Toole said.

    But airlines have resisted requiring the larger restrooms because that means losing three to six seats or galley space. The airlines say losing three seats per flight on four flights per day would cost the industry an estimated $33 billion over the next 25 years.

    “We’re looking for a data-driven approach to make sure we really serve all customers in the best way possible, especially customers with disabilities," said Doug Mullen, assistant general counsel for regulatory affairs for the trade group Airlines for America. "Carriers go above and beyond the minimum regulatory requirements when it comes to accommodations."


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