Accessibility Isn’t a Suggestion, It’s a Requirement

anonymous person pressing button of elevator
Photo by Kelly on

The fact that this even needs to be said at this current point in time says a lot. And it’s not good.

Recently, on one of my rare outings I encountered an issue that would’ve left me stranded had I been by myself. My parents and I were in a parking garage trying to get topside, so we asked one of the workers where the elevators were. They pointed us in the right direction, but when we got there it had a large sign that said it’s out of order.

Going back to the same person, we told them it’s broken and asked if there’s another elevator, to which they said no. One of my parents asked, “then how do we get out of here?”

And their response was, “the stairs.”

Right, of course. Let me just ram my 400-pound electric wheelchair against the step that’s a foot high then we’ll be on our way up those perfectly fine stairs! I understand the person simply answered the question and was just doing their job, but it wasn’t helpful in our case.

Our plan was to go up the entrance ramp and hope we didn’t get run over in the process until we came across the security booth where we asked if someone could help us. A supervisor happened to see us wandering around and was thankfully able to take us to another elevator in the connecting parking garage.

While on the way there, the supervisor apologized for the inconvenience and said that particular elevator had been broken and in a constant state of repair, but management wouldn’t do anything about it. They also mentioned the elevator we were headed to also needed a lot of maintenance, actually getting worked on earlier that same day. Once we arrived, we thanked them for the help and went on about our way. The elevator worked fine which we were glad for, there were just a lot of puddles all in front of the entrance to it. No idea what happened there.

Everything worked out in the end, but it could’ve been avoided if the first elevator had worked. And while yes, things just sometimes go wrong yet this was a common occurrence at that place. That elevator broke down so often that a whole metal sign, not just a temporary sheet of paper, was put on it essentially saying this is the building’s property and couldn’t be handled by whoever worked the parking garages. The workers probably got so many complaints that they had to say, “it’s not us, take it up with the property owner.” Even if there was another elevator in the connecting lot, there weren’t any signs to direct people and the employees didn’t know about it either. Had the supervisor not found us, we would’ve been about to take our chances on the ramp with cars potentially flying down it.

The whole point of this post today, isn’t to complain and holler about a broken elevator that inconvenienced me. My point is that accessibility shouldn’t be put on the back burner nor outright ignored. No one, but especially not disabled people shouldn’t have to resort to taking the vehicle entrance and exits just to get out from underground.

While I’m lucky enough to have a motorized wheelchair that saves my energy and may slightly protect me from being run over, the same can’t be said for someone with limited walking abilities and who may also use crutches, a walker, or any other mobility devices. Again, consider it’s someone who has limited mobility, they have to get to that other garage which still requires extra energy to do so.

If an elevator is going to be broken for a while, whether that’s a result of waiting on specific replacement parts amongst other safety issues or for some other reason, at least have proper directional signs and ensure the staff is informed so people can be assisted accordingly.  

Disabled people have been yelling about this and so many other things for so long. The list is going to keep growing because it really feels like a majority of people aren’t listening and simply don’t care. It’s frustrating, but we’re not stopping because we know we deserve better. While it’s still difficult to go out due to the pandemic, that doesn’t mean we should be excluded when we do have to go out because of inaccessibility.

If you’d like to share an experience or story about dealing with inaccessibility, feel free to comment down below.

Always look or ask for another accessible option so you can be safe and accommodated. That is all. Otherwise, I’ll end up rambling even more. ~So Says The Disabled Dryad~

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