~~This is going to be a dual post. It is part of the month long NanoPoblano blogging challenge. It is also part of the Weekend Coffee Share. Please see the last couple of paragraphs for explanations of both of these groups.~~
For those who are new to the space, I have a physical disability. I’ve had it since birth. It is a hereditary neuromuscular condition that has progressed with age. I walked with crutches for my entire life. I still walk with crutches in my home. When I am out, I use a scooter. I was a rehabilitation counselor for over 20 years. I helped people with disabilities become employed.
OK… Now you’re caught up…
I had an interesting experience this week. We had a friend visiting from out of town. He came for lunch but was on a bit of a tight schedule. Unfortunately, the first restaurant that we went to was closed. We had forgotten that many places close on Mondays. So we went a half a block south to a different restaurant. However, that restaurant had a 30 to 40 minute wait. So we decided to go to a new place in town. It’s a very upscale, mostly organic local market that is also a bakery and a deli. We have seen many people eating there… Both inside and outside when the weather is nice.
So we order our food at the deli counter and pay for it only to find out that there is no scooter accessible seating. They only have bar height seating along the windows. There were picnic tables outside but it was 58° and the tables were in the shade.
I was extremely annoyed but didn’t want to make a fuss in front of our friend who was only here for a brief time. So my husband and our friend sat at the bar and ate. And I parked my scooter near them and ate on my lap. It was less than ideal but it worked.
When I got home, I called hoping to speak with the owner. He was unavailable. But I did speak with the manager. I explained the situation. I explained that, in the year 2022, we are supposed to be mindful of equal access. If they have seating for the non-disabled, then they need to have seating for people with disabilities. She asked me… Actually asked me….why we didn’t sit outside on the picnic tables. I said that it was because it was 58°! And besides… It is not cool to think that people with disabilities have equal access by sitting outside!
She apologized and said that she would talk with the owner. I asked her to please call me back and let me know what the decision was. If they chose to do nothing, then I needed to go onto yelp and other sites to review the restaurant and to let people with disabilities know that they should not bother going there.
Then, in my frustration, I put a post about the incident on Facebook. One of my college friends pointed out that this was a major failure on the part of the building inspector. This was a brand new business. They only opened about six months ago. The building inspector should have caught this!
My college friend was absolutely correct. I’m grateful to him for making this point. We can’t expect a restaurant owner to know everything about accessibility. But we absolutely can expect the building inspector to know this. I’m waiting for a call back from that office. Perhaps they need some reeducation on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Today I received a call from someone from the restaurant. She said that they have purchased a couple of tables that they will be adding to the facility. The tables just have to be assembled. Kudos to them for following through so quickly!
This story has a somewhat happy ending. The restaurant owner is taking steps to be more accessible. That’s great. But there’s a bigger issue here. The ADA went into effect in 1991, I believe. We’ve had that law in place for over 30 years and people like me are still advocating for accessibility… For equal access… For fewer unnecessary barriers… For equal access to communication, to education, to vocational pursuits… After all these years, it just shouldn’t be this hard! It’s like pushing a boulder uphill… Again… It just shouldn’t be this difficult…
My suggestion to everyone is… Just like the military… If you see something, say something! Be an advocate. Please help make the world a bit less challenging… Thanks in advance for your kindness.
I’m glad you’re here💜
****This post is part of the 2022 Nanopoblano November writing challenge. We commit to writing a blog post every day if it all possible and to supporting each other in our writing endeavors. All of my cheer pepper friends would appreciate your support. You can find all of their blogs HERE: