Ervin: No More Cripple Card

By | 2017-01-13T20:42:35+00:00 April 1st, 2014|
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Mike ErvinSome crippled activists take this equal access under the ADA stuff way too far. They need to be stopped before they ruin everything for the rest of us. Like for instance, a while back I got this email from the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. Here’s what the first line said:


Uh oh! Sounds important!

The email continued: The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and the Department of Revenue would like to invite you to test the City of Chicago’s new prototype Pay-Ease kiosk. Pay-Ease kiosks are currently available at a number of locations to help residents conveniently pay water bills, pay taxes, deal with parking tickets and respond to red light camera notices. The new kiosk is designed to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. We are asking people with disabilities to come and test the machine and let us know how it works. Your input will allow us to make improvements to the design before it goes into production.

I sent my regrets.

And I thought of the famous words of Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” I wondered if I missed out on some sort of organizing meeting. Because surely the city never would have presented its crippled citizens with this quick and easy way to fork over our hard-earned money if none of us demanded it. I wondered how that particular protest went down. Maybe a pack of angry cripples stormed into the Department of Revenue and said, “We demand a more convenient way to give up our money! We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens! Access Now! Access Now!”

I bet it was those same cripples who go around demanding that jury boxes in courtrooms be accessible. They’re so annoying. They’re such purists. They think access to everything means access to everything. Yeah, I suppose they’re right, if you want to get all technical about it. With equal rights come equal responsibilities and blah blah blah. But if they have their way, I’ll never be able to play the cripple card ever again. If all jury boxes are accessible, it takes away the perfect, ironclad excuse I have for getting out of jury duty.

Is this the kind of society we envisioned when we all worked so hard to get the ADA passed? I know I sure didn’t. I never would have dreamed that someday it would mean that I would have to unconditionally surrender my cripple card. I don’t see that as a necessary sacrifice for stepping forward into full citizenship. As a matter of fact, I see it as just the opposite. Because what do most full citizens do? They do everything they can to find a way to weasel out of doing the inconvenient and/or expensive stuff government makes them do, like pay fines and taxes and serve on juries. Right? So when you take away my cripple card, you actually make it harder for me to weasel out of these things. Thus, you make it harder for me to function as a full citizen!

Can I get an amen?

And now I really wish I went to give my input on the design of the new kiosks. It was the perfect opportunity for sabotage and I blew it. I could have gone and given them all kinds of crackpot advice about how to make it easier to take my money. And if the manufacturer would have taken my advice, it would have resulted in a whole bunch of kiosks being rolled out that were inaccessible as all hell. And then I, and a lot of cripples like me, could have bitterly bitched about how unfair it is that we can’t pay our taxes and fines as readily as everybody else. And maybe then the city would have said, “We’re so sorry! And just to make it up to you guys, you don’t have to pay any more taxes or fines.”

The power of the cripple card would be restored. And I’d be a big hero.