Is everyone really welcome?

Imagine you live in a world that is so close, but you cannot touch it. Imagine a world that makes you feel less than valid. Imagine life through the eyes of those that live in wheelchairs. Try getting around our beautiful city. Talk about frustrating.

I am one of those people. I cannot get into the majority of places around our city: shops that have high thresholds, offices with steps, businesses with ramps that are banked incorrectly, apartment buildings with doors that are too heavy to maneuver around. Our transit center has a ramp to use our handicap accessible buses, but the ramp is very narrow and difficult to maneuver. I cannot use it. Which means I have to wait in the street. This is yet another safety issue and difficult barrier.

How can I help build the local economy if I cannot access it? So I am asking the question, if you had a member of your family who could not join you on your excursions, what would you do?

First off, let’s stop tiptoeing around what it means to be in a wheelchair. The political correctness of accessibility affects the economy, personal well-being and community.

Can we even start small here in Asheville and put ramps in all businesses? The American Disability Act requires businesses to be accessible. What does it mean to be accessible? Ramps have to be a certain banking and width, doors have to be wheelchair width and bathrooms have to be large enough for a wheelchair to turn around. And let’s not forget that aisles in stores need to be wide enough to negotiate wheelchairs.

If our local businesses cannot afford to make any changes, can our city create a fund to implement carpentry help? Would you please help me to start this conversation?

Please see http://www.ada.gov/smbusgd.pdf for the ADA small business guide.

— Ariel Harris
Asheville

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One thought on “Is everyone really welcome?

  1. jacquie

    I agree wholeheartedly! Last year I was temporarily injured and in a wheelchair for 5 weeks. I gave up going downtown after two attempts to go to dinner with my family. Although I must commend Pack’s Tavern they have ramps, wide doors and a big bathroom.
    My injury and time spent in a wheelchair was temporary. If anyone would like to borrow my chair for a few days to see what it was like you are welcome to it. Many folks cannot simply return the wheelchair when they are finished.

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