Us humans are interesting critters. Short-sighted and contradictory at best. First we take the finest document outlining individual freedom – the Constitution of the United States of America – then we twist it, misinterpret it, ignore it, and then amend it damn near to death.
Some qualifications here. I am married to a wonderful woman who has rheumatoid arthritis. There is a long slow crippling going on here. My sister also has really bad arthritis. Her hands are pretty much claws now. Both of these fine women are now classified as disabled. Neither can navigate more than one or two steps up or down at a time. The pain is too intense. I have had the fun of trying to steer my wife around in a wheelchair when her pain level was too high. On her best days she has to use a cane. I put in a lift chair so that she could get to the basement. We are quite aware of the inaccessibility of many buildings and the stupid design of same.
However, my distrust of government intervention is once again proved correct. One of the consequences of the ADA has been the lowering of elevator buttons to wheelchair level. Now wheelchair people can get to the buttons. Good. However – I have a bad back. Originally injured when I was a teen. I was stopped in a Volkswagen Beetle and a 1960 Chevy station wagon doing 60 mph plowed into my rear. The car was a pretzel. The seat was a mess. So were my back and neck. That kind of injury can take years to really show up. It did. Further injuries working the heavy mechanical trades didn’t help. I am also getting older and blinder. I am only medium sized. At the peak I was 6’0”. We shrink as we age, so now around 5’11”, 5’10” when the back really hurts. Now – the point of all that is that when elevator buttons are at wheelchair level and I am having a stiff day, it is pure torture at best to bend over to focus on the numbers and press the buttons. Some days it is not possible. I am not insisting that buttons be inaccessible to wheelchair people, we have the technology to put buttons at both levels. But the ADA is not interpreted that way. BTW – same for water fountains. Some days there is no way.
The next point is that the standard height for temperature sensing devices was 5’0” aff (above finished floor) for over a hundred years because that was the best height to achieve consistent and comfortable temperature, whether sitting or standing and walking. The ADA standard is 4’0” aff so that wheelchair people can get at a thermostat and adjust it. The kick is that 90% of the temperature devices are only sensors and do not have adjustment. Adjustment is done from the control system computer by the maintenance department. There is no reason to lower sensors, but it is done so that there will be no hassle from the state functionaries. Thereby lessening the efficiency of the systems.
Handicapped toilets are wonderful things. They are supposed to be the same height as the wheelchair, thereby enabling the slide from chair to toilet and back with some creative use of grab rails. As long as there are enough normal toilets around, that is not a problem. However, if there is room for only one it will be a handicapped variety. The kick here is that if your legs are shorter than the height of the pot at hand, that posture puts extra stress on the hemorrhoids. This is not a good thing. So, while trying to help the disabled we are becoming a nation of strained assholes. Interesting.
I am certainly for making things accessible to all people, as is any rational person. My distrust of legislation is that, as usual, this thing is not thought all the way through. To be sure, accommodation for all is the goal, but let us use some intelligence to make sure that we get there in a rational and far-seeing way. I don’t know that we will ever make things accessible for all people, but we can do better and more sensibly that we are now.
Now there is actually more to the ADA than just the physical. The legislators tried to make a disability omnibus. That means that mental disability is lumped into this thing. Oh, brother – what a can of worms. Bad enough that these wienies can’t see the long term results of the simple physical access provisions. Now they are going to blunder around in the mental. With no clue. The problem with legislation is that it is generally driven by what is currently socially expedient and popular. Very seldom, if ever, is hard science sought, known, applied. So we have some grab bag statements that lump all kinds of inclusions and exclusions with no science behind them. Interesting.
Legislators – just exactly how is it that gender disorder is in the same class as kleptomania? Huh? Pedophilia is pretty rotten, frequently resulting in damaged or dead children. In exactly what way is that on the same level with some guy putting on a dress? Or a gal putting on a suit? I don’t believe I’ve heard of any trannies damaging kids. The whole thing needs a bit of rethinking.
BTW – I do not know about the rest of Europe and the “socially advanced” EU. But – in Germany handicapped still equals shame. You don’t see wheelchair people in public. And they are supposed to be our models?