Accessible world. NOT.
Long ago, I thought the world had come a long way towards being accessible to all people. At that point, I also thought that ‘all people’ consisted of people sitting fully upright in basic wheelchairs and self-propelling. Oh yes, I had a lot to learn.
I began to learn the difficulties of being on wheels when my oldest girl was still a baby, and all I was pushing was a standard stroller. I quickly learned which places had automatic doors – Sears became my default entry to the mall. I also quickly learned that most places don’t offer this convenience. I discovered that most of the places I want to go have at least one, and likely more than one step to get in the front door.
When Katie was smaller, and her chair was smaller, it wasn’t such a big deal to bump our way up a stair or two. In fact, when we went to make an offer on a house, after looking at about a hundred of them for one that could be easily modified to be accessible, our realtor scheduled our meeting in her office. Her office building was a split level. If you aren’t familiar with this style, think of a two story house, with the entry halfway up the staircase. My husband and I muscled our daughter and her chair up about seven steps to keep the meeting.
So, while I may have been right in some sense (the world actually has come a long way toward being accessible), the thing I hadn’t realized in my past life is that we still have a long, long way to go.
Even if we could get every business to be wheelchair accessible, what about visiting other people’s homes? What if my daughter wants to go play with a friend, and her friend’s house has three steps to get to the front door?
Private people are entitled to build houses however they want, as long as they meet the building codes. So, even if I think the split level design is collosally stupid, I can’t demand they not be built.
So, what to do?
We weren’t able to build a new house, so we got one that was close enough, and made some modifications, like adding a ramp. (Note to self, write more about ramps on another day!). We can’t build ramps everywhere we go, though. And we can’t really expect everyone we know to build them, either.
So, I was pretty excited the other day when I found… (drum roll) – portable ramps! While not as ideal as rolling through the automated doors of my favorite retail establishment, these do make life a bit easier. I got a set of two individual ramps (about 7” wide each), which telescope from about 30” out to five feet. They are lightweight, have good traction, and come in their own little carrying case which fits easily in my vehicle.
They don’t solve everything – I will still have to pick my child up out of her chair and carry her inside if we have to go into a split level building, lay her on the floor, and truck her 100 pound chair in. But, they do a good job of getting us over 2-3 steps (or, into most ranch style homes).
These ramps cost me a little over $200 from www.pattersonmedical.com
. So far, I’m happy with them.