I have a chronic neuropathic disability that makes it difficult for me to walk without a mobility aid. This year I bought a rollator, which is a walker with wheels. I love her. I call her Noola after the character in my book, Life in the ’Cosm. Anyway, with Noola I have been able to move all over the place and I even use the rollator as an exercise tool to help me improve my distance walking. I think of her more like the way I think of a bicycle. She gets me from one place to another.
Now, perhaps I have a disability, but my Irish spirit is in fine working order. I am a feisty thing who is not terribly shy to voice my opinion. One thing I’ve learned about living with a mobility aid is that businesses often suck when it comes to accessibility. I mean they suck in bold, all-caps, italics, and underlined font—SUCK! Why, oh why, yes, please tell me why so many of you do not have automatic door openers? Or, if you do, why aren’t they working? Hello? Is this thing on?
Let me make something perfectly clear: I do not want your help with the door. Telling me that someone will arrive shortly to open it for me doesn’t cut it. I want to go in and out of a business as I please. You know, just like everyone else can.
And if you are a medical centre—this includes dental and eye-care offices—then shame on you for not having an automatic door opener for people with disabilities. I mean, what is wrong with you? Seriously, this has never once occurred to you? You have patients, for pity’s sake!
Don’t get me started on bathrooms. I am sick to death of trying to open the blasted door while trying to push through with my rollator. This is a pain in the butt, people. Have you no sense of compassion?
The ableism is so thick out there, you can cut it with a knife. Whether one uses a mobility aid or not, people with visible and invisible disabilities benefit by automatic door openers. And guess what? If you make us happy, we’ll tell people about your business! Then more people will come to your business. Isn’t that a cheerful and shiny way we can work together?
Honestly, I think companies should be steeply fined if their entrances and their bathroom doors do not have those automatic openers. And maybe also if they have them and refuse to get them fixed. One local restaurant and another coffee shop gave me the excuse that they can’t get their openers repaired, or the maintenance staff try to fix them and they break down again. Honestly, I cannot tell if they’re speaking the truth or just blowing smoke. I’m wondering if I should complain to the City, because there are other businesses who seem to have their door openers in good order.
So, yeah, I’m ranting. I’m ticked. I’m a human freaking being. I’m not asking for the universe. I simply want to go in and out of a business and use their bathroom without assistance. I’m not asking to be carried around on a chaise longue, either. I’m just asking for automatic door openers.
Come on, then. Do the right thing. Make your business accessible not only with ramps, but also with automated entries and exits.
Cait Gordon is Madam President of Dynamic Canvas Inc., author of Life in the ’Cosm, and editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. She likes giving websites facelifts and arranging the alphabet into readable paragraphs.