Monday, July 07, 2003
I'm both amazed and pleased that the counter has ticked over the 1000 barrier. And that's without my checking every day between Wed and today. I had thought it would take at least 1000 days, but thanks to you disturbed few, we accomplished the task in only, what, 15 weeks? From 3 years to 3.5 months. That's some fine compression.
I went to Birmingham this weekend, and probably the highlight was the zoo. They have a surprisingly decent mix of creatures. I can't imagine that most of them particularly care for the near-tropical habitat forced upon them, but I'm sure the same can be said for the inhabitants of Camp X-Ray.
Today's tale though is about access for the disabled. Everyone thinks, "Well, let's install a ramp, and everything will be hunky dory." Trust me, after a few hours pushing an adult in a wheelchair on ramps with a grade approximating the White Cliffs of Dover, a ramp may make a place accessible, but it doesn't make it reasonably accommoadated.
Perhaps the typcially disabled person in Birmingham is sufficiently well-to-do to have a motorized wheelchair, making even the steepest incline passable. This was not our case this weekend. Not even Camus could have rationalized success in this Sisyphean task. It's as if there were stairs connecting sections of the park and somebody had the bright idea to fill the negative space with concrete. Problem solved!
And going uphill is the easy part. Talk about negative resistance training. I guess we should be thankful that it was only half the run of a mall escalator. Sadly, it was often about twice the rise.
I suppose parents grapple with this on a regular basis pushing strollers. However, no matter how much crap they saddle the strollers with (babies excluded from the crap factor), the mass simply can't compare and the problem is essentially self-correcting (you can always leave crap in the car). With an adult disabled person, there is nothing to leave behind. As an experiment, try pushing your spouse in a grocery cart through a skateboard park.
So, the next time someone complains about the ADA or says something about how we already have a bunch of ramps, know that there is still a ways to go to achieve reasonable accommodation for the disabled.
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