Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another story illustrating why we need the ADA

Yesterday afternoon, Karen, who blogs at A Deaf Mom's Shares Her World, wanted to order shakes for herself and her son. Karen is deaf and cannot place a drive-thru order via the speaker. She needs a real person with whom she can lipread and speak. Doesn't sound too tough, does it? She drove up to the payment window at Steak and Shake to place her order, and was refused service, even threatened by the server with calling the police because she was "disrupting business."

Last summer, a woman with underdeveloped arms and hands who uses her feet to do the work of her hands, was refused service for herself and four children at McDonald's because the employee was disgusted when she gave him her credit card with her foot.

I've heard some people say that we don't really need the Americans with Disabilities Act because,

C'mon, people are reasonable.
Why get the government in the middle of it?
It will cause more trouble than it's worth.
And, again -
People are reasonable, we can work things out ourselves.
Nope. Not true.

Reasonable people will stop their car when the school bus stops in front of them to let kids off, even if the kids aren't crossing the street. But, we have a law. Why? For the safety of our children, and because, frankly, some people aren't so reasonable when they are in a rush or in a foul mood or just don't feel like stopping.

So many, many times when I try to do something - sing in a play, go on a school field trip, enter a restaurant, I hear,
We can't...
We don't....
You can't...
Sorry, it just won't work.
I know there's the ADA and all, but...
Go away.
The ADA is needed so that people can have shelter, work, shop for groceries and other necessities, get healthcare, take public transportation, etc, etc. Important daily functions, and recreation as well.

Incidently, money isn't really the issue here. As is so often the case, accommodations are not necessarily costly. They simply require a little thought, a little effort, or a little creativity.

A few suburbs over from the Karen's Steak and Shake is a Culver's Restaurant who, a few years ago, installed a bell at their drive-thru speaker.

"The customer pulls up and simply rings the bell...The staff now knows that the person out here is struggling with the speaker and then they pull forward and then they are handed a pen, paper and a to go menu."

(This accommodation and others similar to it are designed by a Chicago company, Inclusion Solutions.)

We need the ADA and we need the ADA Restoration Act to keep the teeth in the law.

We can't count on people being "reasonable".


Karen Putz said...

Thanks for spotlighting this issue. I've been in contact with Inclusion Solutions. I will be setting up a meeting with Steak 'n Shake. Hopefully progress will be made!

Ruth said...

An excellent post showing why we need a law to protect the rights of people with disabilities...and the ADA Restoration Act. The everyday things people take for granted they can do can become huge barriers and would remain so without protection. Thanks, David.

Anonymous said...

I blogged about it too in my weekly gratitude post. My gratitude went to Karen Putz for having the courage to stand up and be counted in the face of withering criticism and pressure. Her story both inspired and pressed some deeply hidden buttons that I didn't know existed!

Thanks for helping a fellow blogger spread the news - she's my buddy too!