The Allegedly Handicapped Friendly World

Getting through doors with a stroller always feels like I am maneuvering some sort of obstacle course. I’m never quite sure we’re going to make it through in one piece. Today I approached a store with my stroller and was relieved to see a handicapped sign. Usually this means there is some sort of automated door so wheelchairs can get through, which for a stroller pusher is always a luxury, but for a wheelchair user is probably a necessity.

Today’s sign, however, was misleading. When I got close enough to it to read it, I realized it said “Handicapped Assistance Available Upon Request”. This sign was posted outside the store next to an unusually heavy, giant glass door. None of the store employees were anywhere near the door. How on earth is someone in a wheelchair supposed to ask for assistance while outside the store? Telepathy? Are they supposed to call the store before they come so the employees know to be ready to open the door? It didn’t make any sense.

Having a kid in a stroller has really opened my eyes to how impossible it must be to access public buildings while in a wheelchair. Half the time there is an automated door for handicapped people, the door trigger button doesn’t work or is placed in a location that would be almost impossible to reach from a wheelchair.

It’s really difficult to get a stroller through a door. It’s very awkward to hold the door open at the right angle for the stroller and push the stroller at the same time. It has to be even more impossible to open a door from a seated position, hold it open and maneuver a wheelchair through an entry. I don’t know how anyone can manage this. I feel awful whenever I find a door that doesn’t work because I know there have been people in wheelchairs who have come along thinking they could get through easily only to find themselves struggling with yet another giant, heavy, awkward door.

I know making buildings handicapped accessible is expensive, but you’d think in this day and age more buildings would have functional ways for people with special needs to get in and out.

The “Handicapped Assistance Available Upon Request” sign was probably meant to make handicapped people feel more welcome to the store, but really it seemed like a slap in the face. “We’ll help you, but you have to find us first! Good luck with that! lol!” It almost would have been better not to have a sign at all.

I’m probably not even supposed to be using those coveted automated doors, but really, stores, you can do better than what I’ve been finding. If you don’t have an automated door, get one. If you do have one, make sure it’s working and fix it when it breaks. I think finding a broken automated door is even worse than finding no automated door at all. You get your hopes up that you can get in easily only to find you’re going to struggle as usual.

Let’s get it together, public places!


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One Response to The Allegedly Handicapped Friendly World

  1. litlebanana

    Yeah, considering I work with disabled people a lot, that’s something that’s been bothering me forever. You don’t realize till you have a stroller how horribly inaccessible everything is.

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