Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Letters about Edmunds Accessibility

Two spot-on letters to the editor in the March 4, 2009 Seven Days (in response to their feature on Edmunds' lack of accessibility)...

To ask that a school embrace children of all abilities is not selfish at all [“Old School, February 18]! If every member within the community had a child with a disability, they would see the importance of being able to enter through the front door. Talk about something that is taken for granted by most! If people would just take a moment and put themselves in someone else’s shoes, we would not have the issues we do.

As the parent of a blind child, I can relate to the requests, and I can remember the waiting and waiting and waiting we endured before getting any response! The squeaky wheel gets the grease, parents — you keep on asking and asking until your children get what they deserve: equality! I get the budget issues, I do, but these are children who deserve the very same as every other child! . . .

The answer is not to separate them from their friends, alienate them more than they already are and say it is about money! There is no price on a child’s psychological well-being; it is time we think about the whole person! In 2009, in the wealthiest country in the world, we continue to have the equality conversations. Maybe we are doing something wrong here.

Ann Atkins

Between $10 million and $15 million to retrofit Edmunds to make it handicap accessible [“Old School, February 18]?! Am I the only one who finds the trumpeting of such a figure by the school district to be shameless at best? That figure, without a doubt, is a pile-on wish list of upgrades for Edmunds, most of which have no direct relationship to making the school accessible, however justified or overdue these wish-list upgrades might be in their own right.

Let’s not use the worthy and overdue cause of accessibility to tack on every other wish-list project. Case in point is the suggestion that the school’s entire electrical system will need to be upgraded to handle the elevator. Any electrician knows that one could simply run a separate panel and isolate the elevator from the rest of the building. But, heck, if we can get an upgraded electrical system out of it, let’s inflate the price tag, even if it is at the expense of physically disabled children.

Vermont and Vermonters have long been lauded for their ingenuity, industriousness and independence — not on waiting for the federal government to write a check, not on bureaucratic red tape and feasibility studies, and not on the mentality that breeds defeat. If we were only to put the strength of these disabled children to the task, the job would already be done. Let’s roll, Edmunds!

Daniel Foley

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