I Need More Than A Parking Space
While it may not seem it to look at me, I am technically disabled. As much as it pains me to admit it, it’s justified. I think when people hear the word “disabled”, they immediately think of parking spaces. While parking spaces are important, I can still gut out a short walk if I need to (though I will pay dearly for it the next day). There are some other issues though, that I’ve had problems with, where accommodations aren’t present or aren’t easily found. That’s what I want to discuss today, some seemingly smaller problem areas, that can be huge nightmares for me.
I’ve written before how talking on a phone can be extremely rough for me. Between speech and cognitive issues, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Either the person on the other end won’t understand me, I won’t understand them, or I’ll be unable to explain what I need to properly. Even in 2017, with all the technology we have, there are still so many places that rely on you making a phone call to get help. This has repeatedly been an issue for me, particularly with the United States Postal Service. I frequently have problems with my mail getting delivered (and let’s remember, many of us get medication via the mail these days). Trying to contact them without calling them can be a nightmare. You can submit a case online, which takes forever, but even then, they want you to call them or be able to call you. An online chat feature would be great, even simply being willing to email and email only, would be great. I have had some luck with their Twitter account, but even then, they often want to speak via telephone. It’s an incredibly awful experience for me and I often need my roommate to impersonate me. There are many places with this same issue, even doctor’s offices, and it’s baffling to me. I need tools to help communicate more than I need a better parking space.
Like many with MS, I have trouble with my hands. They are often numb, weakened, or riddled with tremors and spasms. That can make so much of life difficult (and again, looking at me, you’d never know). Trying to open wrappers can be maddening. The level of frustration I get trying to open something as small as a cheese wrapper is immense. While the average person out there would have no issues, so much packaging is incredibly difficult for someone like me. The same issues that make it hard to open something, can make it dangerous and difficult to use scissors or a knife. These symptoms also make holding objects difficult. One of the more fun examples I have is when I get a beer at the local brewery. I know the beer would be better drunk from a glass, but many times, that glass might be a bit heavy for me to hold and constantly pick up. I’ll occasionally ask for a plastic cup, but that can also lead to a bit of embarrassment or I’ll forget to ask.
These opening/holding issues are things that no one really thinks about, especially if they see me. I remember a couple years back, people ridiculed Whole Foods because they started selling unpeeled oranges in a plastic container. They were ridiculed so much for encouraging laziness that they eventually pulled them from shelves. Even my friends and family shared jokes about it. I took one look at it and thought “I wish I still lived near a Whole Foods”. Yes, it was pricier, but for me, something like that would have been so incredibly helpful. I rarely eat oranges and the like because peeling them is too hard for me.
I know we constantly talk about how temperature can be such a big deal for us, but I feel it deserves mention here too. It’s not something that people think about when it comes to accommodations for the disabled. Temperature has such a big effect on many with MS, that it deserves to be talked when we are discussing making appropriate accommodations. A cool and consistent temperature can be a must for someone like MS, and many places don’t provide that.
These are just a few areas that I feel need improvement when it comes to making the world more disabled-friendly. There are many more though, and I really would love to hear from others who have noticed similar issues! So please consider leaving a comment if you think of something!
Thanks for reading!