Brazil Paraplegic Builds City Hall Ramp

XIEglhCThere’s something epically cool about doing big, sweeping things no one would expect someone in a wheelchair to do. One of the most badass of these “unexpected” things – building your own wheelchair ramp. And that’s exactly what Samuel Nobile de Oliveira did, a paraplegic from Junia, Brazil.

His story is one you’ve heard of before – small town, officials keep promising a ramp would be built in the city hall where the health department is, buuuut it never happened. People wait, get disgruntled, complain, while the city spends its money on “more important things.” This happens all the time in countries all over the world, even still here in the US.

But where Samuel’s story becomes much different is that he took it upon himself to build the ramp himself. That’s right, whenever has a day off from work Samuel goes into town to work on the ramp. He’ll transfer onto the ground and just go to work, sometimes bringing an AB friend along to help with. Needless to say, him finally building the ramp got the attention of city officials

The town’s mayor, Hermes Bergamim, apologized for the circumstances saying, “I apologize to all disabled by the situations and constraints,” he said. “We will take appropriate action in the city so this does not happen anymore.” So now they “care” because they’re getting bad press. Typical.

Seriously – how hard is it to send a few city workers to go build a ramp? I suppose they think what most un-disability savvy AB people think, “Oh they can just get lifted in by helpful on-lookers.’ Pfft. This is a common way of thinking actually all over Europe actually, Asia too.

In fact, I think the US, Canada and Australia, closely followed by the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, are some of the only countries in the world who look at equal access for all as a serious issue.

Without question however, Samuel’s ramp-building story puts a much-needed spotlight on this, and while it’s crazy stupid he was forced to build the ramp himself, boy is Samuel one awesome fella. I wish I could end this blog entry with some uplifting end point, like “and then the town folk rushed to help Samuel, so inspired by his own hard work,” but that would be a big fat lie.

Samuel plans on building another ramp in town when he’s finished with this one, another government building frequented by the disabled a few more blocks in town. It’s strange, the city has “already built hundreds of other ramps in town,” but they say they couldn’t afford to build anymore, hence the lack of access.

Gee, kinda makes you wonder which buildings take priority over government health buildings?

Read the original story (in Portuguese) here

Have you ever been forced to create your own accessible solution?

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