Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2010

Assessing the accessible

November 4, 2010

It has been more than five months since I suffered a stroke and certainly I have made a lot of progress. I have reached most of my goals, except driving, and I believe that goal is just around the corner. I’m continuing on the long road back.

I have changed my mind about handicapped access in the past four months. I’ll admit I used to gripe about the law. I was frustrated when I saw empty handicapped parking spots while I drove around a parking lot searching for a vacant place. I thought far too many spaces had been devoted to the handicapped.

Well, that has all changed. Now I think there aren’t enough spaces. It is amazing how being temporarily handicapped has radically changed my thinking. Quite frankly, I was wrong! I now realize how important adequate parking is for those of us who are physically challenged to return to our active lives.

Almost every lot has handicapped parking spots, however, many are a long way from the door. I believe handicapped parking should be very close to the entrance. I have always been upset at people who sneak into places reserved for the handicapped. Please be cooperative and save reserved parking for those who really need it. It is very, very important to folks like me.

Almost everywhere I have been has been handicapped-accessible to some extent. I know from previous experience that it is very hard to convert an old building to modern standards. Consequently, all handicapped facilities are not equal. Certainly newer buildings are excellent and are very accessible. For example, the Bonner Springs City Library is tremendous and you can easily get in, either by walking or by wheelchair. The library has automatic doors and the parking is adjacent to the entrance.

Also I found Kauffman Stadium was great when I attended a recent game. I have been to the new stadium at Free State High School, as well, and it is alright for wheelchair accessibility, although it is located down a steep hill. There are handrails in the stadium that allowed me to sit in the stands.

Handrails are important to me. I had no problem attending a ball game at Lions Park in Bonner Springs. I could park near the stands or roll my wheelchair close to the fence. For me, time has taken care of most of the issues, as fortunately my walking skills have advanced and I now rarely need to use a wheelchair.

Usually the only major challenge I face is walking up and down ramps, but by taking my time, I can make it. The only problem with a lot of restrooms is they have heavy doors. In general, however, I can handle most situations.

I have been to some places that are sort of handicapped-accessible. In most cases it wasn’t their fault. There is only so much you can do with an old facility, and I for one appreciate the effort. Also, I want to thank everyone for working to allow folks like me to attend events. Even after I’m through with my cane and wheelchair, I plan to be an advocate for handicapped access.

I have greater appreciation for the folks who work as physical or occupational therapists, too. Without their efforts, I wouldn’t have made any progress. They are tremendously talented and trained. They teach folks like me life skills and help us to move back into the mainstream of life. Therapists help us reach our goals.

Therapists point out the amount of recovery largely depends on the efforts of the patient. They show you exercises, but it is up to the patient to work hard. Believe me, I work out every day, in addition to going to therapy.

Yes, I am glad attitudes have changed and those of us who have suffered setbacks can get out and enjoy life while we are working to get better. Yes, I am well on the long road back.


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