Letter: To understand ADA issues, push wheelchair around town
To the Editor:
This past weekend, I brought my mom, age 94 and recently wheelchair dependent, into town so that she could enjoy Downtown Ridgefield’s Spring Stroll.
The experience of pushing her in a wheelchair, all over our downtown area, raised my awareness of the accessibility issues that people with disabilities face every day. My comments are not intended to be direct criticism of anyone, but rather to have people think about things that I myself had been totally ignorant about.
We have had a long, hard winter and with that harsh weather came damage to our roads and sidewalks. We need to make it a priority to get the potholes filled as well as to fix some of the crumbling curbs. Wheelchairs are wide, so it would be helpful if restaurants, with outdoor seating, make sure there is sufficient space between tables that people can maneuver through. I also found that there are many businesses that have steps, and no ramps, which makes it impossible to access. Inside stores, merchants also need to think about whether they are leaving adequate space between their display racks.
What I did notice, which is so great, is that people were kind to me. Cars actually stopped to allow me to enter the crosswalks and gave me enough time to cross. People also moved out of my way on the sidewalks to give me enough space. Others were thoughtful and held doors for me, as it is difficult to open a door and push a wheelchair through at the same time.
I think that anyone working on our town’s ADA issues would seriously benefit from spending an hour pushing someone around in a wheelchair to get a better perspective of the issues. Ridgefield is such a great town, but it needs to be a great town for everyone.