Thanks to my quadriceps tendon repair surgery, I am now among the temporarily handicapped (or “differently abled” if you want to be stupidly PC). I cannot drive (my leg is locked and I cannot fit into the driver’s seat of any available vehicle, including my own pickup truck). I can only move about semi-effectively on crutches (although I suppose I could hop quite a ways on my right leg). While I have been intellectually aware of how difficult it would be for the handicapped to get around, now I have real awareness of this.
One thing I have noticed is that most buildings are not well set up for people who cannot walk about normally. While some buildings do have access ramps, many do not and navigating stairs with one functional leg is a bit challenging-especially when the stairs are rather narrow and steep. I normally loath elevators, but now I notice the absence as I try to work my way up and down stairs.
Doors are also something of a problem. For example, I recently came to notice that most bathroom doors are set to swing shut with a fair amount of power (but relatively low speed). Trying to push open such doors and get into the bathroom required a bit of practice (and speed). Speaking of bathrooms, most older buildings are not equipped for the handicapped. While I could manage to get on the toilet, I’d have to leave the stall door open so my leg would fit out. I won’t be doing that, though. I’m reasonably sure that no one wants to walk in on a dude on the bowl.
Other doors are also rather hard to operate one handed; but I suppose that is how they need to be. Otherwise, they would just stay open and allow bugs, heat or cold into the building. Some buildings do have those handy handicapped door buttons, but most do not.
The buildings on my campus tend to be fairly old and hence they have been exempt from being updated to the current standards for access. Naturally, the building where my office is located is particularly bad.
While I normally liked the hills on campus, now they pose quite a challenge. My school has dealt with the hills by putting in lots of outside stairs. Naturally, to get from one class to another, I need to navigatemany of these stairs. I’m trying to recall some alternative routes that will avoid the stairs-hopefully that will be possible.
I have heard people argue that providing handicapped access is expensive and needless. While it is expensive, it does seem worth having for those who lack standard mobility. Naturally, it could be argued that there are few people who need such access and hence it actually is a waste of money. After all, that same money could be used to benefit the majority of people who have normal mobility.
From my own experience, I can only recall seeing a very few students and faculty who actually needed to use the access features. Of course, it might be the case that people who have such handicaps simply decide that it is not worth the effort of dealing with such a relatively poor degree of access.
While my handicap is not particular serious or permanent, this experience has given me a new perspective on the world and what some people have to cope with on a daily basis.