How Inaccessibility Leads To Injuries

When Broadway actress Ali Stroker took to the stage at last night’s Tony Awards to accept her award for best featured actress, she made history as the first person in a wheelchair to receive one of Broadway’s most prestigious awards. Stroker, who was paralyzed in a car accident, gave a powerful acceptance speech, noting that her win was for “every kid with a disability, limitation or a challenge who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena.” However, Stroker’s win also highlighted an important issue: inaccessibility. Due to a lack of ramps in the venue, Stroker was not able to access the stage like the other award winners, and had to wait behind the stage before accepting her award.

Defining Accessibility

Accessibility is a right for all Americans, according to the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which was passed in 1990. According to Title III of the ADA, “no individual may be discriminated against on the basis of disability with regards to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation.”

Public accommodations include places of:

  • Lodging, like hotels and apartment complexes
  • Recreation, including parks, swimming pools, and beaches
  • Transportation, like city buses and trains
  • Education, including all public schools and colleges
  • Dining

Stores, care providers, like hospitals, and places of public display, like museums, must also adhere to ADA accessibility laws.

For a place to be accessible, it has to be easy to access. It also needs to have modifications that allow people to fully use and enjoy its services. Some examples of proper accessibility include:

  • Braille on buttons in an elevator
  • Enlarged doorways and redesigned seating to accommodate wheelchairs, including in bathrooms
  • Visual fire alarms
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Accommodations for service animals
  • Handicapped parking spaces

Accessibility also includes removing any obstacles, like narrow hallways. If barrier cannot be removed, buildings must provide an alternative way to easily and safely get around any barriers.

The Dangers of Inaccessibility

When a place has inadequate accessibility, it prevents people with disabilities from fully using or enjoying its services. But it can also cause dangerous situations for people with disabilities. For example, if a building does not have visual fire alarms, a deaf person might not know to exit a burning building.

An example of the dangers of accessibility occurred a few years ago during the Seminole Heights serial killer scare. During a press conference about the killings, a sign language interpreter failed to provide understandable translation. Her incoherent translation made it impossible for deaf people, including the mother of one of the victims, to understand. This example shows how inadequate disability accessibility can be inconvenient, insulting, and in some cases, dangerous.

Accessibility for All

While events like Ali Stroker’s win at the Tony Awards prove that a disability does not have to keep someone from succeeding and thriving, there are still many areas of improvement when it comes to accessibility and safety for people with disabilities. Riding the bus, going to school, or simply enjoying a day at an art museum should be something that everyone can do, regardless of disabilities or limitations. Adequate accessibility measures help to make this a reality for everyone.

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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