Sunday, May 31, 2009

The "other kind of access"

I cut back on grocery delivery as part of my recession budgeting, so once a week I pick up a few items to supplement what Meredith picks up. I've been using the store around the corner since it's convenient, but have run into issues with getting assistance from employees with reaching items and other help I need to shop alone.

Yesterday I tried out a ShopRite store a few towns over. The employees were courteous and friendly and very helpful. Because of their assistance in emptying it, I was able to use a basket to carry items. This is something I can't do if employees refuse to assist me. I'll definitely be back to shop there again.

I was listening to the family of a friend with a disability talk about access the other day. They were saying that when their daughter goes out, people learn that access isn't just about ramps. We all need to be mindful that the needs of all of those with disabilities are met, not just those in wheelchairs, for example. Customers who are deaf need a TTY line and blind customers need an accessible website and ATM machines they can use independently.

But in the end technology isn't going to fix everything. Our ability to be out and about and productive depends on others' attitudes toward providing access of other kinds, such as assistance in reaching items over our heads. Legislating this kind of help through the Americans with Disabilities Act hasn't solved the issue, in my opinion. The law is clear that customers should be accommodated, for example, if a business puts items too high or their aisles are too narrow to navigate. Nevertheless, when I request help, it's still hit and miss whether I'll get it.Far too often help is refused or requests are ignored. Sometimes I'm asked to wait so long for assistance that I have to get back to work myself and never get the help I request, so I leave the store. I can follow through on the ADA violation or go to another store to spend my money, but it doesn't solve the bottom line problem, which is yet another inconvenience to deal with, such as driving out of my way to find a store that offers this "other kind of access".

An ally who is nondisabled wrote on a blog that those with disabilities are social pioneers, meaning that we are breaking through barriers by going out and about. I believe this is true. I've created a map in my head of places where there is van access parking and stores and restaurants which offer assistance of all kinds. But the reality is that, like others, I'm always exploring new places and territories, where the landscape, in terms of accommodations, is unknown.

Once in a while, this leads to the discovery of new treasures, like I found yesterday. And I'm grateful to all those out there who have gone before me so that they are out there to be found.


Greg said...

Great post, I too spend my money where I receive the best service although it's not always convenient to get there.

As you said, it's impossible to legislate attitude. Have a great weekend!

Wheelie Catholic said...

Greg- thanks, hope your weekend is going well too :)

Full Tilt said...

Wonderful post, Wheelie! I wish more people read your blog!

Have a lovely weekend!

Wheelie Catholic said...

Thanks, Full Tilt - hope you're having a nice weekend:)