Photo Essay

by Amanda Kavanagh

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Helping the Disabled

While there are guidelines and laws that need to be followed to accommodate disabled people, there needs to be more. Disabled people still have trouble being as independent as they possibly can in public. They still have restrictions and limitations when going out in public. More laws and guidelines have to be created. All disabled people need more accommodations out in public to be as successful as they possibly can.

Getting into Restaurants and Other Public Buildings

Disabled people can have trouble getting into buildings. Opening doors can be too hard. They may not be strong enough to open doors and maneuvering around doors is hard. A lot of times even attempting to open a door can be unsafe. All doors for public places need to have a handicapped button or automatically slide open. Disabled people shouldn’t have to risk getting hurt or have someone with them whenever they go somewhere. Waiting outside the door for someone to notice you is not an option either. That’s not fair and doesn’t make disabled people feel very good. Disabled people need to be able to get into buildings as easily as possible.

Parking.

Most places have handicapped parking. However, there still may be old buildings that do not have handicapped parking. Even if there is handicapped designated parking, it may not be the most logical and convenient parking in the parking lot. It could be far away from the door or even on another side of the building. That makes the door farther away from the parking lot. Every building out in public needs handicapped parking that is closer to the door. Disabled people should be able to have more room to park and get out of their vehicle while also being as close as possible to the door. That is the easiest thing for disabled people.

Ramps

Ramps are located in almost every public place. There are some places that don’t have ramps though. If there are ramps, they may not always be in a good location. The entrance may be far away from the ramp. That defeats the purpose of the ramp. Ramps are supposed to make it easier to get somewhere. There also may be only one ramp available. If you park on the side of the parking lot that doesn’t have a ramp, you have to go down to the side that does have a ramp. That’s more work for disabled people. Not every disabled person can step up on to the curb. The placement and amount of ramps needs to improve so they are more beneficial to disabled people.

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Access to the Whole Building

It’s hard for people with physical disabilities to move around. How difficult moving around is depends on the person and the severity of the disability. One story buildings are hard to move around in which means buildings with multiple stories are even harder. A lot of places now have elevators. If they are newer buildings, they are more likely to have elevators. Older buildings may not have elevators. It should be required that all buildings with more than one floor have an elevator no matter if the building is old or not. Climbing up stairs can be tiring and hard for people with a disability. It could even be impossible. That restricts disabled people from going to certain places then. Even if there is an elevator, it may not work one day or a lot of people use it. Every place should be required by law to have at least two elevators to make it easier for disabled people to access buildings. It would make elevators less crowded and if an elevator were to break down then there would be a backup. Elevators need to be required in every building no matter what.

Moving Around in Buildings

Moving around can be hard when you have a disability. People with disabilities may bring their own equipment with them when going somewhere such as a wheelchair or scooter. Not everyone will do that though. They may only need a piece of equipment at a certain place such as the store. Their own equipment may also be hard to transport. There are a lot of stores, malls, and other places that offer wheelchairs and or scooters on a first come, first serve basis. This greatly helps disabled people. All stores and other places where you will be doing a lot of should be required by law to offer these. There are big places that don’t offer them. When places have wheelchairs or scooters available, it helps disabled people. It allows them to function better and enjoy their trip.

Tables at Restaurants

It can be hard to find accessible tables when eating at restaurants. Some places such as McDonald’s have handicapped designated tables. The tables may be bigger and or the table legs could be different from the other tables in the restaurant to accommodate wheelchairs. Handicapped designated tables are less likely to be found in restaurants like Applebee’s or Olive Garden. People with physical disabilities may find sitting at tables that aren’t handicapped accessible to be hard. There may not be enough room to fit their wheelchair or other piece of equipment. It may be hard for them to sit in a chair at a regular table because they don’t have enough space to move. That can cause them to not be able to access their meal very easily. Handicapped seating makes eating at restaurants less stressful and more enjoyable. It should be required that every restaurant has at least one handicapped table to make it easier on disabled customers.

Resting While Out in Public

People with disabilities and even people in general can get tired when they are out somewhere for a long time such as the store. People with disabilities who are able to walk for any amount of time or length should be able to do so. However, walking around stores such as Target or Wal-Mart can get tiring after a while. Disabled people may not have any more energy after walking a lot and they might experience pain and discomfort from walking. The possibility of getting tired should not have to hold them back. Places where there might be a lot of walking, especially stores, should have benches or chairs so people can rest. That is really important for the disabled. Places that do have them tend to only have seating in specific areas. Seating needs to be a little more spread out or in the middle of the building to make it easier for the disabled. They would have more opportunities to sit and or it would be easier to find a seat. It’s hard having to go to the shoe department or the pharmacy area just to sit down. That could take people out of their way and causes more work for disabled people when they need to rest. Appropriate seating should be required in stores and other places so the disabled can easily rest when they need to.

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Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Blind

Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and blind people can be independent. People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing use many ways to communicate. They can use American Sign Language, read lips, talk if they have been taught how to, and use an interpreter. People who are blind have many different ways that they can be as independent as possible in their daily lives. Braille signs out in public allow people to be able to read the signs. They are able to know where they are or where they need to go. People who are blind may also utilize a white cane or a guide dog to help them know when obstacles are in their way and what direction they need to go in. There needs to be more accommodations for the hearing impaired or blind out in public though. The accommodations have to be more uniform. Every sign describing something or somewhere needs to have Braille on it so blind people can read the signs. A lot of places have them but not every place. Places also need to be more accommodating for deaf people. They should have devices that turn speech into text or have an interpreter on hand. The interpreter can do the same job as everyone else such as cashier, but is qualified to interpret when needed. Deaf and blind people can’t provide accommodations for themselves out in public 100% of the time. That would be too difficult. They can’t always have someone with them either. Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and blind people should not have to worry too much about how they are going to be independent out in public.

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Independence and Disabilities

The world is not always very accommodating for people with disabilities. Changes can be made that make it better though. Disabled people should be able to access buildings easier. Ramps should be easily accessible and available everywhere as well as doors that open by themselves. It should also be easier for the disabled to function inside of buildings. There should be places where they can rest and tables should be accessible to them. They should be able to move around the building easily no matter how many stories there are. There also needs to be more accommodations for the blind and hearing impaired. Signs need to have Braille on it so the blind can read them and at least one employee should be able to interpret for people who are hearing impaired. Devices that can turn speech into text would also help. All these different accommodations would make life easier for people with disabilities and they would be able to be more independent.