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Why We Should Care About Disability Accessibility Before It Affects Us

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It’s funny how a changed perspective can suddenly shift what we care about.

Before we went to Florida with my parents, I described what the condo was like to my daughter Namine, who was born with multiple physical disabilities. I told her about the pool area, and about the boardwalk down to the beach. I told her what I remembered (and after so many years of visiting every July, I remember it so clearly) — steps leading up to the boardwalk, and steps from the boardwalk to the beach.

My parents had told me they’d rented a beach wheelchair, so Namine wouldn’t need to be carried everywhere. What they hadn’t told me — which I discovered to my delight — was that the stairs on either side of the boardwalk had been replaced with ramps.

Although the ramps’ existence was a happy thing for us, the reason for them appearing was not. Something had happened to someone in the owners’ family, and now that person uses a wheelchair. Out of this circumstance came the need for accessibility, which would have otherwise been (as it had always been in the past) ignored.

I have often heard it said, “There is no longer any excuse for a business to not accommodate accessibility.” But the unfortunate truth is that we humans tend to ignore what does not pertain to us. Even with laws meant to enforce it, many owners do nothing to improve the accessibility of their property.

The need for wheelchair accessibility used to not pertain to the owners of the condo. Now it does, and they changed it accordingly. But the fact of the matter is, under normal circumstances, they would not have done so.

We need more accessibility — and not just for wheelchair users, but for other disabilities as well. But before that can happen, we need more awareness and accountability. Because we’ve obviously proven as a society that we aren’t going to take care of it, until it affects us.

This story was originally posted on

Originally published: August 29, 2016
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