Why Access is Important and How to Educate Others

This month is the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Recently, I had an experience at a local restaurant down south. I had to make my voice heard so that I would be able to access a certain part of their facility. My friends came down to visit me over Memorial Day weekend and they found a restaurant they wanted to try. The restaurant was three stories tall and did not have any information about wheelchair accessibility. So, I decided to go down to the place beforehand to scope everything out, just to make sure that they were wheelchair accessible.

Scoping the Restaurant Out

When I arrived, they had a restaurant downstairs, a restaurant/bar on the second floor and a sports bar with an outdoor patio on the third floor. Knowing my friends, they’d want to go to the third-floor sports bar and outdoor patio. The hostess was nice enough to hold the elevator for me and up I went to the third floor. When I got to the third floor, everything was accessible until I tried to go out to the outdoor patio. They had two steps going down, so I politely asked the bartender if she could grab the ramp, figuring that they had a portable ramp that would allow me to get down the two steps. The bartender never came back, and a manager came up to apologize to me that they did not have a ramp to go down those two steps.

Giving Businesses a Chance to Fix the Problem

I always take these situations with a grain of salt. Although it’s frustrating, it is not the end of the world to me because I use this opportunity to educate people. So, I gave the manager a local dealership that they could contact to purchase a portable ramp for a couple hundred dollars. I told the manager that I would be back on Sunday with my friends. He said they would have the ramp and everything would be good by Sunday and was very apologetic for their lack of accessibility out to the back patio.

Failing to Provide Access

So, Sunday afternoon, me and five of my friends arrive at the sports bar. They had not purchased the ramp. This was frustrating on my end because I felt like my friends couldn’t experience the sports bar because of my needs. Thankfully, I have good friends who are very understanding, and we ended up going to a completely different place. Still, I was very disappointed that nobody from this restaurant tried to get me a ramp, when they knew I was coming back and bringing multiple people with me to spend money at their restaurant. All places should be wheelchair accessible, not just for me but every wheelchair user who wants to go to this bar and watch a game.

We Have a Long Way to Go

I was so annoyed with how this experience turned out that I contacted the mayor of the town where the restaurant was located. Someone from the town cited the restaurant and fined them for not being fully accessible and ADA compliant. My plan is to give it a week or two and then I’m going to go back to see if they actually follow through with purchasing the ramp.

As far as ADA has come, there’s still a long way to go. I’m very thankful that I have good friends who are understanding and can go with the flow when these things happen. In the end, we still had a great time at a different restaurant and that is what matters.

About Josh McDermott: Josh is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. He is a public speaker and has served as a goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Josh lives in New York and loves to travel. Click here to learn more about Josh.


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