The Bare Minimum

Though I may not be, for example, the mother of a special needs child or a victim of a form of abuse or homelessness, I have empathy for the challenges they are sure to face. If there was something I could do that would help them in some way or make their life easier in any way, I would. Taking the easy way out isn't an option. I am certain that help would be appreciated. In my opinion, two people sharing adversity can bear it easier than one. As that relates to society as a whole, it would be mutually rewarding to show care and consideration to our fellow man, whether or not their particular plight applies directly or indirectly to you. Don't be comfortable with ignoring the need, rendering mediocre aid, or simply offering assistance at the level of ‘just enough’. The aforementioned are moral exemplars, but I have a personal example that, technically, is legal according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal law which was enacted in 1990 to protect the rights of those with disabilities.

When ADA falls short

Some establishments, however, really push providing accommodations to the limit by doing the bare minimum.

Living with mobility challenges due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and requiring the use of a walker or wheelchair is a struggle. It's important to me to not allow my circumstances to turn me into a recluse; therefore, I am sensitive to establishments that advertise themselves as handicapped accessible, but simply provide the 'bare minimum'. A few instances I have encountered are:

  • I reserved a "handicapped accessible" hotel room. There was a regular bathtub - no shower seat, no walk/roll in entry, just a grab bar and handheld showerhead.
  • Establishments that have handicapped parking/lowered sidewalks on one side of the building - with regular parking right in front of the door entry.
  • I've even encountered TWO buildings just recently that had absolutely NO handicapped access – one office was actually on the second floor with no elevator, and the other had a step to enter the building - no ramp. That wasn't even the bare minimum; it was nothing, as in no accessibility for the handicapped - at all! It is 2018. Is that even legal?

A challenge to do better

I encourage - even challenge - business owners to put themselves in the shoes - or wheels - of someone with a handicap or disability prior to rendering mediocre assistance or creating "the bare minimum" (or less) relative to handicapped accessibility. In some cases, less is more, such as when you're trying to avoid an argument, save your breath, time, money, energy or space. However, that adage should not apply when it relates to the access, safety, and detriment of your patrons, customers and fellow citizens.

One never knows when they might become the unfortunate person, or someone that said person is acquainted with, who may be impacted by the effects of the bare minimum. Life is funny that way, so never take it for granted.

Note: for information and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can visit this site.

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