Friday, January 21, 2011

Obstacles in the Community: Sidewalk Ramps

Being in a wheelchair poses many obstacles in the community. One major thing is accessibility; whether it be stairs, narrow doorways or a jampacked clothing store. It all poses a problem for someone using a wheelchair.

One thing that can be a problem is sidewalk ramps. In the front of most buildings there are sidewalks and curbs, and usually a place that dips down for a stroller, shopping cart, wheelchair etc. Placement of these ramps is key for someone in a wheelchair and it seems that they're not always where you think they should be.

I would assume that they would be right in front of the store, but that's not always the case. Sometimes I find that they are on the side or back of buildings which means that I have to go around first in order to get to the front. In the middle of winter when it's 10°F (-22°C), that's not always the best thing to do.

Down the street from my house is a strip mall with about 10 to 12 stores connected in an L-shape. If I want to go into a store at one end, I have to go to the middle corner to get up onto the sidewalk because there are no ramps at the ends.

It's not just ramps that go to stores either. It's also ones that go from the street to the sidewalk. If they are not placed properly, one has to go out of the way to get to them. For example, also down the street from my house is a mall which I like to travel to every once in a while. Most of the way I can use the sidewalk, but then I come up to an intersection which I have to cross. Because of the heavy traffic I am unable to cross at the light. The only other ramp to get off the sidewalk is to the right of the light about half a block. However, once you get off there is no ramp to get back up on the other side of the street. I have to go up the side of the busy street, go around an exit and then enter into the parking lot of the mall. Very inconvenient and dangerous as well.

The problem with sidewalk ramps are mostly only visible to someone who faces the challenge. As are other accessibility issues throughout the community. If you're in a wheelchair, and you know of other little things that pose problems, leave a comment and share. I'd love to read about it.



Teoni said...

One of my good friends has cerebral palsy.

Since we are university students - we evidently want to go on nights out. However, alot of the clubs are step access, or have levels that she cannot reach. Occassionally we decide to lift her, but then hurt our backs also - it's not fair she does not have the same opportunities as us.

Further to this, our SU is also accessible by steps - and for the majority of freshers week the lift was broken. What a joke!!

Lastly, something that we find difficult pushing her is the cobbled streets - you know the kind that is cemented, but has lots of bobbles of cement (not sure what theyre called). It is difficult because the wheelchair often gets stuck and tips on them - one time she has fallen out.

I have so many more complaints :P but, its a joke.

Jenni said...

Yeah that's definitely bad. They should make buildings more accessible, ones without stairs.

I have trouble with streets that have huge pot holes in them. I could imagine how difficult cobblestone would be to travel on.

Good observations and glad to hear you're thinking about your friend. I don't like when I don't have the same opportunities as others because of a simple thing like stairs.

Teoni said...

Yeah it's ridiculous. I feel sorry for her because she feels like she is an inconvienience to us - which she really is not! We love to have her out.

We take her standard wheelchair (with no power) on nights out, because it's easier to we push her around. It annoys me that people think we are her carers though - as she has her own mind and is also training to be a teacher.

People's attitudes really need to change. One time, her class had been placed in an upstairs classroom with no lift/ramp access - so she couldn't even attempt class.

I hope equality begins to be increasingly promoted.


Greetings from Southern California :-)

I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You, ~Ron

Elizabeth-Plain and Simple said...

Skylar, my nephew, received a concussion and several stitches when his wheel chair flipped while he was exiting a sidewalk several months ago. He uses a sip n puff power chair. He now has a bad scar at the corner of his left eye and eyebrow. A very bad experience for him.


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