A news item yesterday got me thinking about the world of accessibility and lawsuits. A woman I know with a spinal cord injury has made it her quest to reinforce the ADA by filing lawsuits against establishments in her city. She’s targeting businesses that have clearly violated ADA stipulations left and right, and she’s not collecting any money from these suits.
The point, at the end of the day, is to make all of these places in the community (the casino, local bar, bakery, coffee house), welcome to all (read more about her lawsuit/ADA compliance quest here). But this news item brings up an important issue, or feeling rather, that has nagged me since becoming disabled – are you willing to be the bad guy to make good happen?
Think of the tarot card the Hanged Man – that in essence can be you to your community if you decide to do what the woman above is doing; making stubborn business owners change. It’s the right thing to do, don’t get me wrong, but it can be an unpleasant task that’ll make you disliked by a lot of people. To do it right, you need to be fiercely ready, and one of those people who don’t care what anyone thinks of them. But once you get there, oh the change you can get done.
We’ve all met those old mean men who think the ADA is a joke (“We can just carry you in” blah blah). They’ve everywhere, and clearly those charged to reinforce the ADA weren’t their jobs. I mean if she hadn’t finally done something about it, would anything have ever changed? Sorry to say, but probably not.
I know of another woman with a spinal cord injury who’s just like the lady above. She kept her lawyer on speed dial and would call him up asap if she ever ran into a place that was inaccessible (and she was smart about the grandfathering process, knowing when to back off). But she had held no qualms about being the bad guy. A proud fierce warrior of the ADA.
You know, I think there’s something wrong with me. I could never do what these women are doing; and you can blame my mom. I was raised to not cause a ruckus or make a fuss, so till this day, the notion of even filing a lawsuit makes me pause (I really wish it didn’t though; working on that).
I may live in an area flush with accessibility, but there are still stubborn violators. The bar down with the secret bar down the stairs, the other bar that’s entirely downstairs, yeah they’re everywhere.
What if….what if all of us took a lesson from the women above and we all started filing lawsuits? Maybe that would scare every business to step in line and finally make those ADA enhancements they should’ve done 15 years ago. The lawyer fees would get spendy, but hey, if you raise enough money to support your cause, you never know what is possible…
Have you filed a suit over inaccessibility? What advice do you have to share?