Thursday, February 18, 2010

One Man's Annoying/Aggravating/Interesting Access Picture of the Week

I saw this sign on a bank of elevators at the downtown Minneapolis Macy's. If you can't make it out it says "FOR HANDICAP USE ONLY" and it referred to the middle elevator car in a row of four. On its face it was a nice gesture but it sort of made me snicker cynically for two reasons: 1) the chances that able-bodied people always deferred to people with disabilities as the sign intends, and 2) the use of the word "handicap" was poor word choice. As I've mentioned on this blog before, words like "handicap" (in its singular form) and "the disabled" to describe people with disabilities has become very un-PC and even outright offensive. Using the word "accessible" would be the best option here. In fact, I'm a little surprised that nobody (e.g. the HR department) in one of the biggest and most shopped stores in the world looked closely at this sign and put 2 and 2 together in this regard. It might be time that someone brings it to their attention. And I would gladly be that person if need be.

How I even got to this bank of elevators is an interesting little story as well. I had to go to downtown Minneapolis for a meeting, which meant parking in a ramp and traveling through the skyway system to get to my destination. That said, the rule of thumb for me in that situation is to park on the second level, or park and make my way to the second level so that it's a quick trip to the skyway. The ramp I used didn't have skyway access though. So I had to go to the street level inside an adjacent building instead and I followed the signs for skyway access. The problem with that was it lead me to a set of escalators with no elevators in sight. Mystified, I asked a security guard how I could get to the skyway. He told me that I had to go into Macy's, go through the women's shoe department, hang a left by women's perfume, and the elevators that would take me to the second floor would be right there. Alrighty then. Made perfect sense. Unfortunately, having to take more convoluted paths like this because it's the only accessible route available is pretty common place when you use a wheelchair, and can often be quite frustrating. But I've been though much worse by comparison to this scenario, and I'm sure even the worst will get trumped some day. Alternative accessible routes gone bad will have very much to do with my next post as well.

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