Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Amy and the ADA

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, but have always ended up writing about something else. I never thought I would be making use of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but use it I have and with good turn out.

We live close enough to walk to Moira's school. The trouble was, when walking with Soren, it was tricky to get across the street. Where the crosswalk is, there was a very high curb. High for the kids walking. Even a little high for my short little legs. So when I walked Mo to school with Soren, we would have to 4-By it off the curb. This was quite hard in Soren's old wheelchair/stroller. So on off-hours at school, I would not use the crosswalk and would zip Soren and I across from one driveway to the other. This was kind of dangerous because the street is a busy one. I was even given a finger wagging by the school secretary one time when I did this.

So, one day I was picking up Moira and came across another mom who was walking her son in a typical stroller. She too had to 4-By it and commented on how much easier this would be if there was a slope instead of a curb. I knew, with Soren's disability, I could actually get something done about this and help everyone crossing the street to get to or from school.

I did a little web search and found the ADA person to call in our city. I left a message stating the situation. Mike called me back the next day with the most sincere voice and earnest interest in getting this situation solved. Within a week, workers from the city were marking up the sidewalk in preparation for what is officially known as a "curb cut." Mind you, I called about this in around October of last year. During Christmas break of last year, the workers came and, by the time school was back in session, the curb cut was done and crossing the street was easier for everyone. Especially for me when we got Soren's new heavy-duty wheelchair.

The second issue came up regarding Soren's bus pick-up. We live close enough to the school that people who are dropping off or picking up their kids often block our driveway. On garbage day, people would even pull my trashcans up onto the curb and then park blocking the cans. It got to the point that I was having to police activity myself, yelling at parents who blocked my driveway. One time I came home during Kindergarten pick-up and was totally blocked. So I just sat there waiting, blocking the street, until the woman returned with her child. What amazes me is how innocent people act, as if they didn't know it was a driveway to someone's house. Or the people who actually get mad at me for calling them out (and I'm always polite).

Now, I'm sure parents did this since we originally moved in. However, I never knew about it because I worked during the day at an office. But now I freelance from home. And I have to get Soren onto the bus in the morning and off of it in the afternoon. This is decidedly hard when cars are blocking my driveway where the bus needs to pull to the side.

So once again I called Mike to see if I could have a Blue Curb painted for handicap access only. My request was forwarded to the right department and soon I got a letter of refusal--our city no longer did Blue Curbs. I got on the horn and tried to find out if this was legal according to the ADA. Turned out that lots of cities don't even have blue curbs. So I called Mike again and explained the situation more. He helped negotiate 5 feet of red, no-parking on our side of the driveway (which we share with our neighbors). This way the bus--a small bus at that time--could pull in without issue.

Now for the most part, people behave and don't block the red zone. But not always. And the universe is getting its sweet revenge on those not following the rules because now, instead of riding a small bus, Soren's bus is HUGE! It can't pull over at all due to all the cars. So it just blocks the street. I just smile and get Soren on and off the bus as quickly as I can.

But I must say that the city's response to both issues were quite quick and painless. We are really lucky to have the ADA!