Improvements Needed for Better Accessibility for People with Disabilities

Improvements Needed for Better Accessibility for People with Disabilities

So many of us are affected by disabilities, and day-to-day we strive to live our lives the best we can. The struggles due to these disabilities can consume a lot of our precious and sparse energy. Anything that can be modified in the home, at businesses, or anywhere we choose to frequent is very much appreciated.

In a post titled, “Disability Inclusion,” the World Bank said that “[o]ne billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries. One-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities.”

As one of the 1 billion people with a disability, I feel very relieved and welcomed when I enter a business and see that they have made modifications to make my life easier. This includes handicapped parking spaces, accessible restrooms, wide department store and restaurant aisles, and ramps leading into an establishment.

I have primary progressive multiple sclerosis, and it frequently requires me to use a manual wheelchair when I am away from home. Nothing feels worse than being excluded or barred from somewhere I want to go.

In the U.S., the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), established in 1990, is “one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services and to participate in State and local government programs and services,” the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division noted on its website.

The ADA is responsible for many advancements in the world of disabilities. My hope for the future is that this continues and that more accountability is placed on businesses to adhere to ADA requirements. My worry is that new legislative changes to the ADA that recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives are a step backward in terms of that hope.

In places I have been, I have noticed that not all requirements for handicapped accessibility are being met.
It appears that dimensions in some handicapped-accessible restrooms are not always suitable for wheelchairs. I question if the designers of those particular restrooms actually sit in a wheelchair and manipulate themselves in the situation. It’s not always an easy or a safe task.

Also, I see the need for heavy fire doors, but as I struggle to use such incredibly heavy restroom doors, I am left wondering if a better solution exists.

Other disabled accessibility I have trouble with include ramps outside of businesses that are located too far from the entrance door, ramps that are not angled correctly, and restroom hand dryers that are located so high it feels as if they are restyling my hair more than drying my hands.

It is important to acknowledge the strides being made to improve handicapped accessibility for those of us who are disabled, but a lot more work still must be done. I believe that together, our voices can make a difference and can help to create a world where accessibility to living a full and happy life can be available to everyone!

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

6 comments

  1. Gary says:

    All I can say is to learn the laws for ADA compliance. Some states have going even farther for there requirements. All doors are require to have 5 lb of force or less to open the doors. I live in a large condo complex and once I brought this requirement to the board it was done immediately. The door openers are adjustable. I go to a large health facilities with many remote facilities and they do not comply. They are on my next list. Not sure if any MS people use to play golf and can no longer do so. There are laws that require all municipal courses have one. If a regular course does not have one all you need to do is ask for them to get one. I have had MS since I was 26, now SPMS for 20 yrs or so and have to use a scooter. The mobility golf carts have a electric seat the tilts up about 60 degrees or so. I have used one for approx. 20 yrs. A wonderful way to get outside. CA has stricter laws than ADA for condo pools. We all need to do more research and let people know when they do not comply with the ADA. Most of these places will comply. If not a letter to the state ADA compliance dept. Many times it only requires us to let people know about these requirments. We all need to do our research.

  2. Senator says:

    I have been in a motorized wheelchair going on 7 years. I have Primary Progressive MS, and it has progressed rapidly. My wife, who is also my caregiver, and I love to travel. Because of the stage of my disease is advanced, I am not able to fly or even use a train. That leaves us to travel by van with a side ramp that I utilize to enter and exit our van. I cannot drive, so my wife does it all. I can only tolerate 4 hrs of travel at a time, so we utilize hotels quite a lot, along with restaurants. Parking can be fun when parking in van specific areas. Guessing that 75% of the time, another handicapped vehicle in stall next to ours is parked so far over line that it can`t be utilized. Out of approximately 18 states we have traveled, Illinois is by far the worst for handicapped people. Restaurants unable to accept wheelchairs at all, with one having been built within last decade. Rest stops not able to accept wheelchairs in stall, hotel with NO wheelchair stall in public bathroom, and hotels with beds so high off ground, I am unable to get in the bed. Outside of Illinois, I am treated very well in any place we go, with employees looking to go the extra mile to help me be comfortable.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      I’m sorry about your troubles with accessibility, I know how frustrating that can be! I admire you still traveling and not letting it get you down. Thank-you for your comments, senator! Debi

  3. Catherine McDowell says:

    Hello my name is Catherine, Please tell me who to contact to report a restaurant /Diner in New Jersey for not having handicap accessible bathrooms not even safety bars? Thank you.

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