Easily overlooked, easily fixed disability barriers

In my last blog, I talked about 5 common misconceptions about disability access. Many people assume access barriers are major and cost a lot of money to fix. While that is true in some cases, oftentimes it just means adding a ramp, trimming a bush, or some other relatively minor fix.

Then, there are the barriers that are so simple to fix that it simply takes being mindful and aware of the problem and not creating the barrier in the first place. That’s right, a lot of inaccessibility and violations of disability rights are caused by barriers created in otherwise accessible spaces. Let’s take a look at the most common ones to be aware of for your own property and also when you’re in public.

Delivery vehicles blocking access

Delivery vehicles are notorious for blocking the ramps “for just a few minutes” or parking along the entire row of handicap parking spaces while they make their deliveries. This often happens at a strip center where there are multiple businesses getting deliveries.

FedEx truck blocking a wheelchair ramp

As the food delivery service industry skyrockets, another issue I often see but have yet to get a picture of is, delivery drivers parking in handicap parking to run in and grab the customer’s food. They do it because it’s quick, but it’s illegal. I encourage restaurants and delivery services to make a strict policy against doing this.

Blocking bathroom door access

This happens in one of two places. Either blocking the ability to get to the door in the first place, or blocking the ability to get in once the door is open. The latter either happens by the door being unable to open completely or, like you will see below, a large immovable object making it impossible to get past the door into the bathroom.

This happens a lot with chairs or high chairs for babies. Especially during COVID as seating capacity was reduced. Wheelchairs (or walkers) can’t get past those chairs.
I couldn’t reach to turn on the light because this quite pretty but intrusive piece of furniture is in the way at a local restaurant. I can’t get between and the wall. Ironically, without it there, the bathroom looked completely accessible.

Crappy parking

I admit, I can be guilty of this and often the elderly or disabled can do this to our “own people”. If you are too weak or don’t feel well enough to drive safely (including not parking like a crazy person), you should perhaps consider not driving that day.

Those lines are not a parking spot. This renders the space next to it useless, too. Motorcycles and scooter riders are notorious for parking in the striped parts. those are loading zones, not parking.
This car next to mine was parked so crooked that I couldn’t get my wheelchair to the door of my car when I was ready to leave.

Placing stuff in the handicap spot or loading zone

Not gonna lie, this one blows my mind a little bit. Both the pictures I share below ended in rather terse responses from the managers of the related businesses. It doesn’t matter if you have other handicap parking available. It’s never OK to put objects on the ramp, in the spots, or in the loading zone. Another place I see this a lot is at car lots. When we were shopping for a car for me a few years ago, half the time the handicap spots were filled with demo cars. Nuh nuh.

The loading zone is not the place for your cart corral. Also not the location to put clearance items (another thing this specific business did a lot before I got my attorney involved).
I get that they were preparing for an event the next day, but patrons wanting to use those spots the night before didn’t have access. And the other handicap spots around the corner were blocked by a truck.

Ice, Ice, Baby

If you own a business, don’t push the snow and ice where it blocks the ramp or makes it dangerous for someone getting out of their car. Snow clearance businesses are notorious for doing this in parking lots. If you hire them, don’t let them do it.

The rest of the lot was clear except the handicap spots.
There is absolutely no way someone using that ramp could traverse that snow safely.

Patio furniture and decorations

I love eating on the patio in warm weather, don’t you? I also love when businesses can decorate the outside of their business. But both of those don’t work when the furniture or decorations block the sidewalk/ramp/door/etc. This happens a lot and I used to have many more pictures but these are the only ones I could find. I will add more when I find them.

Blocked aisles

I can’t tell you how many times displays, dangling products, or items that haven’t been stocked yet block aisles. This creates a fire hazard, prevents people with mobility issues from shopping, and can damage the products.

How you can help

If you see something, say something. Do it politely, but tell someone who has the power to make the change. Unfortunately, I will tell you that most the time you will not be met with kindness. People get defensive and make excuses.

If you have the power to prevent or fix these problems, I hope you do so.

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