Living with a Disability
Two weeks ago, I had hip surgery that put me on crutches for up to six weeks. Before this happened, it seemed like everywhere I went in America there were handicap accessible facilities wherever I went - public restrooms, automatic door opening, ramps, etc. However, these past two weeks have brought to my attention the number of handicap problems that people with a permanent disability must have dealt with their entire life.
Despite having to pay thousands of dollars on my surgery, the DMV couldn't help but add another fee. As usual, for a simple task, I waited an hour to turn in a sheet of paper. And pay another $10 to get my handicapped parking permit. After a week, my friend took me to the mall to get out of the house. Non-handicapped friendly entrances and doors became much more apparent in everyday life. I assumed wheelchairs would be available, which was a mistake. Only the Dillards supplied wheelchairs, of which there were three. All taken. I went to complain at the mall management offices where I was given a stern scolding that their other chairs where stolen, as if it were my fault as I held onto my crutches standing there.
Today I got my friend to drive me to my University campus since I am a graduate student and have meetings to attend. I assumed I'd be able to park in the handicapped spaces on campus. Again, a mistake. We were directed to the transportation office where I was felt like I was in a crime seen being grilled by cops on whether I was guilty or not. Again, I was being squeezed for another fee. You have to pay for another permit if you have a temporary handicap permit you already paid for at the DMV. After leaving on principle, my friend decided to just drop me off at my building and park somewhere else, but not until we met again with the gate station. Again, as I sat doe-eyed in the passenger's seat, we were told, "THOU SHALL NOT PASS!" as a Papa John's pizza truck rolled through.
Grassroots organization like Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit have had success reforming public policy, spurring changes like the Americans with Disabilities Act. Perhaps the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has had public policy changes such as ensuring there are wheelchair lifts on public transportation, still has some work left to do in this country.
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