Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Waaaaah! I can't get to the windmill!

I don't think many people oppose the idea that places such as courthouses, voting polls and the DMV should be accessible to people with disabilities, but where do we draw the line on forcing private businesses to spend hard-earned money to make sure anyone and everyone can have access? The AP reports that the Justice Department is proposing significant changes to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act that would address access to everything from drinking fountains to fishing piers. The rules would affect new businesses and facilities, as well as alterations to existing ones. Jerry Doser owns Adventure Mini Golf in Lake Worth, Fla., an elaborate operation that includes different elevations connected by two sets of stairs. Obviously, a person in a wheelchair couldn't navigate the course, but under the proposed rules changes, if Doser were to renovate the place, he'd have to ensure that at least half the holes could be used by the disabled. "I've tried to think about how expensive and how hard it would be to get rid of those stairs - you would have to destroy half the golf course," said Doser. "Economically, it's not feasible." So it appears that Doser would be put in a position of never being able to alter his course, because to do so would put him out of business. The feds should be concerning themselves with making sure disabled folks have access to the essentials of life. Is mini-golf really a pursuit that is elemental to a rich and full life? (Don't answer that, Bess) A business should not be put OUT of business because a small segment of society can't access it. Sometimes disabled people just can't do the same things able-bodied people can do. That's why they're called "disabled."



Blogger miss bess said...

I have my putter in the trunk of my car. I hear there's a new mini-golf spot being built in the Uniontown area. Road trip!!!

July 23, 2008 at 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Captain said...

I have a 2 year old daughter. We are very blessed that she is healthy with 10 fingers, toes etc. Not all children or adults are fortunate to have such or have had them taken away by events beyond their control.

that said, I would hope that if I or anyone I loved wanted to play min-golf, swim, see a play, watch an opera, watch a youth soccer game, etc they would have the chance to do so in any public/private facility. The public has all too often in this world discounted the viable and incredible input and perspective "disabled" folks provide. If you are not one of the few, how can you speak for all of the few frowned upon by the many?

I agree though there needs to be some limit to the required efforts of business to make things accessible. Thats only fair. But if you were unable to reach a drinking fountain, nobody was around and the fountain worked, would you rather die, have heat stroke or have incurred the costs to make that water available to all? What if that was your daughter? Parent? Sibling?

I saw a reality show (30 days) recently where an active NFL player chose to live as a parapalegic in all aspects of his life. Although I did not see the ending of the show, the minutes I watched showed a very tough man whittled to near nothing as he was incapable of fully understanding the long term affects of such a lifestyle.

If we (you & I) had to spend 30 days in their shoes, we would insist that access be made available even if it were for a small percentage of society because it would be affecting you (the disabled) in such a way not fathomed unless your life hung in the blance of such tragedy!

July 23, 2008 at 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Captain said...

Final add....Is putt putt crucial to a quality of life? Perhaps not! But the joy of being around those who are disabled and still yearn for life and have zest to live life even if in a wheelchair....(think about the disabled boy recently with Make A wish and Ben Roethlisberger) -- would you not want to be around that to add to the quality of your own life?

Least we not forget the wonderful people and family who are left life-long to provide care for this person? If golf os something they enjoy, would it not be enjoyable to share with those less fortunate and to enjoy some time with same in lieu of constantly having to work to care for somebody unable to care for themsleves?

Think about that possibility in your own life? I know your comment has some sattire to it and appreciate the perspective. But, the facts are that those people add quality of life to the world around them. Only and until recently have we allowed them access to participate fully in this life. Technology has helped i must agree. Look what they/it has brought to the world?

July 23, 2008 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Valid views, Captain

July 23, 2008 at 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please explain to me why, at leats30 years ago, the city fathers in my small town put a ramp on the curb of a sidewalk leading to a set of city steps. Sometimes things are taken too far.

July 23, 2008 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

Braille markings on the ATM drive-through ...

Necessary? Perhaps not.

July 24, 2008 at 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm compassionate to the plights of the handicapped but, while visiting the Washington Wal-Mart recently, I was witness to a handicapped patron verbally abusing what must have been someone of authority with the store. She was incensed that all the handicapped parking spaces were taken, some no doubt taken by "normal people" and that the store should be policing those spaces to be sure that they were being used by the "proper people". (Can you imagine a 16 year old cart collector asking to see if people are indeed handicapped? I can see the lawsuit a mile away from that one!) She also demanded the store create more handicapped parking spaces for handicapped patrons.

she finished her tirade by shouting at the top of her lungs that she "wanted to be treated like everyone else!!!"

In this case, I cannot understand how people who want to be treated like everyone else can also expect more than is given to the "normal people"???

Life isn't fair, nor is it easy. If all the parking spots of life are taken, sometimes you have to work a little harder or go a little farther to achieve the same outcome...

but what do I know...

July 24, 2008 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I think the problem with the store running out of handicapped spaces is that every Tom, Dick, Hazel and Larry with so much as a fever blister goes to his or her doctor and gets a handicapped placard. Just because you've got an achy knee or hip or back isn't reason enough, in my book, for you to get a handicapped plate. I'm an aging fat man with two creaky knees, but I park as far away from the store entrance as possible in order to avoid having my car hit by some old blue-headed woman who can't see over her dashboard. And the walk at least does me a little bit of good, though it's a bit like a pee in the ocean, considering it's about the only exercise I get, other than mowing.

July 24, 2008 at 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to think that the Braille on a ATM is there because some machines are walk-up machines that the blind can use. They could even walk up to a drive-through if the bank is closed. I also think that it's cheaper to manufacture all ATMs keyboards with Braille rather than tool up for two types.

I understand completely why we try to accommodate the "challenged." However, do we offer booster seats in movies or stepstools for public drinking fountains for "little people?" Do we arrange for wider seats for the obese (not all people are fat because they overeat)? I noticed that some movies in theaters are now being shown with closed-captions. That's fine.

How to apply standards equitably is a problem. But if government is going to force business to comply retroactively, they should roll out some grant money (perhaps they do - I don't know).

July 24, 2008 at 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think these laws are excessive until you have a child that is handicapped, then you begin to view it all differently. Our last child was born with such problems. When pregnant my wife paid complete attention to her health- even gave up her coffee. You never think it will happen to you, but sometimes you are the "other guy".

Disabled people, especially younger ones, shouldnt be forced out of participating in activities that they could do with some adaptive help. It's not just the loss of the activity, it's the isolation from the rest of society, including their own families.

As far as retail stores like Walmart go, they can post signs that non handicap drivers will be towed for parking in handicap spaces, and contract with a towing company to do just that. The city of Pittsburgh tows a huge number of cars every year for illegal parking.

And Brant, it isnt so easy for every Tom, Dick, Harry or Brant to get a handicap placard for a fever blister. If you have a temporary problem, you get a very temporary placard. If you use a dead relative's placard, you can get into big trouble.

I have a handicap placard because of my daughter, but never use it if it's just me in the car. Once, when going somewhere with her, I was accosted by another driving who demanded to know why I was using the space (I look pretty healthy and vigorous). Just before I could answer, my daughter's forearm crutches came out of the other door, and he began to apologize. I told him I refused to accept his apology, and I hope he continues to question people, because his actions protect handicapped people.

July 24, 2008 at 11:23 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I appreciate your viewpoint, and I wish you and your daughter all the best. However, I see a lot of people who look as if they have very little wrong with them using the handicapped placard. Of course, they could have a non-visible medical condition, but a lot of them look pretty spry. The ones that irk me are the people who appear to have eaten themselves into obesity and, thus, need to park close the store. I'm hauling plenty of "freight" around with me, but I'll crawl before I would get a placard and take a handicapped spot that someone with a serious disability could better use. Once, I was walking out of the Shop 'n Save in Washington and a woman who appeared to be in her 20s fairly leapt from a vehicle she had parked in a handicapped spot. She had a placard, but there obviously was nothing wrong with her. As she was bolting past me, I asked, "So, what's your handicap?" She suggested that I perform some sort of unnatural act upon myself, so I just went inside and called the police. I didn't stick around, but I hope she had some 'splainin' to do.

July 24, 2008 at 11:40 PM  
Anonymous Captain said...

This is one of those great blogs I like to be a part of and the intelligence presented here is some of the reasons better people should get into politics. No matter the reasons, we all agree placards have their place and their misuse. What to do about it is another thing entirely to satisfy all the possibilities for placards neing needed or not.

As for the number of handicapped spaces those are controlled by a fairly simple formula which is created by a modifier based upon the total sq footage of the retail facility, the number of overall parking spaces required are then calculated and as a percentage their is a number of handicapped spots required. Some retailers like Walmart will increase the number of spaces beyond the required to satisfy those patrons. And they (spaces) are required to be within a certain distance of ingress/egress of the stores.

I would in the case of Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers or for retail shops in general utilize a security force (perhaps make them required and give them the credence to write citations) to take digital video with voice documenting the license plates, placard information and if possible a video of those who did such act. They must be submitted within 12 hours to be valid. The technology easily exists just as toll booths catch the non payers.

And to discharge the penalties I would allow either the DOT or local police force to send warnings/fines/etc -- but the date, time, etc needs to be there for proper prosecution. Then it, although anonymous, will allow everybody to police whatever they see. Websites could easily be setup statewide, nationally or locally with a very minimla costs and it would be a very easy source of revenue for the municipality with court costs being covered and the balance going to handicapped related charities.

I did not know there is a permanent/temporary placard distinction. What is that distinction specifically? I would suggest adding to those placards a pregnant mother one which has dates provided so as to not abuse it.

As for calling the police when you spot these infractions, lets face it, its only a parking ticket I believe? However, repeat offenders should have their license suspended and their cars impounded, and notices to insurance companies with fines therein as notice to stop their shenanigans!!

Just a few thoughts.

July 25, 2008 at 12:16 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I think you can get a temporary placard if you are "temporarily disabled"... like... say I (24 yr old, healthy guy) had a big knee surgery or something... I could probably get placard for the time that I was rehabbing the injury or whatever...

On your point that the number of spaces is formulaic... I am glad that places like wal-mart add more spaces voluntarily... I would think that, due to the nature of the store and the demographics of the traditionally handicapped, they would have a lot more disabled patrons than would... say... Dick's sporting goods... I am not saying that to be a jackass... I am just saying that it's nice that a place doesn't automatically do the minimum of what is required by law and actually pays attention in some way to the people that are actually shopping there...


July 25, 2008 at 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Captain said...


You are correct they did add more at the Wash WalMart -- but there are other things WalMart could do better as well overall as could other retail facilities.

Some of the older stores (here in Phx) they did not add more spaces voluntarily. I think its been happening only recently.

Does anybody know if the ticket is just a parking fine?

July 26, 2008 at 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as I know there is no nationally mandated minimum fine for parking in a handicap spot. It seems to average around $250, though.

July 26, 2008 at 9:47 AM  

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