When a person takes a close look at ADA, otherwise known as Americans With Disabilities Act laws, they might question if the person or people who wrote those laws was really disabled or not, and if so, the severity of their disabilities. Some people might see and argue that, there is a huge difference between ADA-compliant and wheelchair- and walker-friendly. Some people might go to a business and their wheelchairs or walkers can’t access the business’ restroom, or they might not be able to access the business at all because the building is not code compliant when it comes to ADA laws. Either that or the laws have not been written to accommodate those with wheelchairs or walkers in certain areas.
Just because a public place says that they are ADA-compliant does not necessarily mean that it is wheelchair- and walker-friendly. One place that is being brought more and more into the view of the public eye that may be considered ADA compliant, but it is certainly not wheelchair- and walker-friendly in most cases are public parks and playgrounds. It can be very sad and troubling to go to a public park or playground with someone, especially a child, who is in a wheelchair or utilizes a walker to help them to get around and yet they can’t participate or play with their friends because the builders and designers of these parks have only taken the current laws into consideration. They have not used common sense to consider that a wheelchair or a walker can’t get around in pea gravel or bark.
More sympathetic builders who have these situations in mind would use a material like melted down old tires or another material that would be flat, even, and smooth so that the wheels could easily go across the material. There is a company out of Mililani, Hawaii, called Hope For Disabilities, that is currently working to educate the public on these issues and is trying to raise funds to build the first ever completely accessible playground for all abilities, so that no one is left on the sidelines. This will allow everyone to be able to participate and play together, whether it be two siblings, a parent and their child, or maybe even a grandparent and their child, without having to be reminded with every step or roll that they have limitations.
Hope For Disabilities hopes to educate people on the differences between the ADA’s current laws and wheelchair- and walker- friendliness, to be able to change the way that these public places are built, so that everyone can be included. If these structures were built beyond the ADA’s requirements and made to be wheelchair- and walker-friendly, then people wouldn’t feel left out and feelings wouldn’t get hurt because someone can’t participate for a reason not within their control. The more this issue is talked about, the better the chances are that more people will see that the wording of these laws needs to change, so that the obstacles can be removed from the way that the current laws are worded. A good builder who knows his laws and is sympathetic to people with disabilities might go above and beyond the current laws, but a lazy builder who does not know or understand these issues or is not sympathetic to these issues might just build the structure to the way that the codes are written today. This needs to change to bring down barriers and allow everyone to be included everywhere.