Monday, June 16, 2008

Steps in the Right Direction


Toasted ravioli, hummus with red peppers, and bruschetta was my Father's Day treat at Nonna's Italian American Cafe one block south of the square (where Will Bill Hickok killed Dave Tutt over the display of a pocket watch won in a poker game) in Springfield, Missouri.

Walking the streets -- abundant curb cuts for wheelchairs -- reminded me today that the current administration's effort to expand access for people with disabilities. The story is in The New York Times ...

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is about to propose far-reaching new rules that would give people with disabilities greater access to tens of thousands of courtrooms, swimming pools, golf courses, stadiums, theaters, hotels and retail stores.

Public access is nice, but private accessibility would be better. I was reminded of that when I noticed that an old hotel being gentrified into condominiums had steps to its entrance.

One lesson learned from a fifty year long trip in a wheelchair is that one of central factors in isolating people with disabilities is that virtually no housing is being built to be wheelchair-accessible.

Local zoning laws could solve that problem. No need to retrofit. No need to build a new residential structure without at least one ramped entrance. I cannot believe a simple concrete ramp is any more complex or expensive than a series of steps.
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