Accessibility is important for disabled people because it’s how we function and a lot of us cannot do even basic tasks when things are not accessible. People often assume that churches and medical offices are accessible because they have a kind staff and have to be but being kind is not what makes a business accessible. These kinds of offices may be accessible according to the ADA but to a disabled person, they are not any more accessible than your local department store. Kind staff is important for a business because it’s what keeps people coming back but kindness does not equal accessibility and I know tons of businesses run by kind people but I wouldn’t consider it an accessible environment. I have been going to physical therapy for a few months because I just had hip replacement surgery back in February and needed some rehab to improve my strength. A few weeks ago I finished physical therapy and have no complaints on the care but the accessibility was not good and could have been a lot better. I was always facing some kind of accessibility challenges that I should not have to struggle with as a disabled person. In this post, I am going to talk about how the facility of my physical therapy was not accessible for disabled people.
There was not enough accessible parking- The parking lot of my physical place was huge because there were multiple offices in that plaza but even with it being so big there was hardly any accessible parking spaces and there was two in the front which my mom and I always used because it was the most accessible and the two on the side of the building but those were not convenient for us so we did not use them. That was it and you think that there would be more accessible parking because you should expect disabled people to attend physical therapy but that was all to be had and if you didn’t get there first you probably weren’t getting close parking. There were days we didn’t get close parking and I had to walk the longer distance because someone else got there before us and there was no close parking available. I was able to walk the farther distance but I was out of breath when we got there because I don’t have the same strength or endurance as I did before surgery so I can’t walk as far without getting winded. Some disabled people can walk a little bit farther if there is no close parking available but we do have limits as to how far we can walk and for some people walking the farther distance is impossible because we don’t have the strength or endurance to do so. It is unacceptable for offices not to have a decent amount of accessible parking because it’s necessary for the disabled community to get inside safely and if it’s not an option many people have to go elsewhere.
The closest parking was reserved for management-There was not a lot of accessible parking space but there were a few that could be used have been made into accessible parking. Instead of making the lives of disabled people easier and making more accessible parking these close parking spots were reserved for management who probably could walk the longer distance.. I know that when you own a facility that you have parking privileges but to use spaces that could be used as accessible parking when you are capable of walking the farther distance is unfair to the disabled community who may not be able to walk a few extra parking spaces. I was fortunate that I am able to walk a little farther and when I am not I almost always have someone with me to figure it out but not all disabled people have that and if close parking is not available you are stuck. There was one day when it dumped rain and my mom and I had to wait it out a half-hour because we couldn’t get close parking that day and I didn’t have the strength to walk on wet pavement without slipping but if we would have had closer parking I would have been able to do it. Once the rain let up my mom had to pull the car up closer so I could get in safely because there would have been no way I would be able to walk to it and not fall. Accessible parking should not be reserved for managers that are able to walk the longer distance and they should be for disabled people who couldn’t walk farther even if they wanted to.
It was a bit cluttered-You would think that a physical therapy place would work with a lot of disabled people because disabled people often need a lot of therapy but I don’t think they worked with a lot of disabled people. Paths always had to be cleared just so I had enough room to walk and do my work effectively. . Granted it was a small space so there wasn’t a lot of room for tons of equipment but that is still no excuse for inaccessibility. I was able to get my small wheelchair in the space I was working but if it was much bigger I don’t know if it would have fit. It makes me wonder what they would have done if my chair was larger and I couldn’t walk. Disabled people need more space to move than abled people because we have to accommodate our assistive devices and disabilities in general. If a wheelchair user cannot turn around in a space without hitting a wall it’s not accessible! and there needs to be more space. Disabled people shouldn’t have to stress over whether or not their chairs are going to fit or if they are going to get stuck becuase there wasn’t enough space. Wheelchair users should be able to move around freely without worrying they are going to back into something and not be able to get out.
I expect medical offices to be inaccessible to some extent because most medical professionals don’t know what it means to be accessible and don’t know a disabled person to teach it to them. My mobility is a lot better than it would have been if I never went to physical therapy and I overall had a positive experience but the accessibility could use some work. If I ever needed to have my other hip done or needed physical therapy for any other reason I would go back because the therapists were very knowledgeable in my condition and I would feel confident that I would get progress which can be hard to find when you have a disability. The therapists were amazing in getting me to a place where I could do rehab on my own but their facility was not accessible which was not as much of a problem for me because I can work my way around inaccessibility but if I was a full-time wheelchair user that could not get out of my chair it would have been difficult and I may have had to go elsewhere. You would think that a physical therapy place would be accessible because they are used to working with disabled people but not necessarily because not all medical professionals know what it means to be accessible which is why you need the disabled community to educate you so that you are more aware. Accessibility is important for disabled people because we need it to function and without we can’t live our lives easily! I expect businesses to be inaccessible to some extent but that doesn’t make it okay or any more or less frustrating when businesses don’t even try to be accessible. What inaccessibility barriers do you face at medical appointments?
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