Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mobility is a Right... letter to the editor

Here's a letter to the editor from the March 25, 2009 Seven Days...

Talk about old school [“Old School,” February 18]. My sister had mobility issues and attended school in the 1950s and ’60s. By the time she was 14, she was using a wheelchair. She had to stop attending school and be tutored at home, creating intense isolation. To get into a movie, we had to use the back door. To get into church, we had to recruit men to carry her in and out.

No public buildings were accessible, and even private homes had steep stairways and bathroom doors that were too narrow for a typical wheelchair to fit through.

The world said, “You do not exist” to her.

The ADA has been wonderful, but too many people think it’s providing something extra for people with mobility issues. Think about it: If we constructed buildings without stairs and doors and expected everyone to be able-bodied enough to climb a knotted rope to get in and out through the windows, we might gain some perspective. Why then do we assume that buildings are supposed to have stairs and hard-to-open doors, instead of ramps and accessible entrances?

For too many years, opening our public buildings to the disabled has been considered a favor, when it’s just as much a right as stairs and doors.

I’m disgusted with the current so-called fiscal responsibility that once again squeezes out school projects, especially ADA projects. I hope someday we recognize the difference between a favor and a right, especially when most of us enjoy that right.

Pat Goudey O’Brien

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