Now people know

Ignorance should never be an excuse, but for those with limited interaction with persons with  disabilities, lots of us miss the obvious.

The latest source of outrage was a story on CBC, detailing a woman’s trip to the grocery store, only to return with her wheelchair bound son unable to access the passenger door. This chain had done the right thing and made a place for accessible vans to park and easily deploy its ramp to aid the occupant coming and going.

On this occasion an able-bodied man simply parked his truck in the wrong spot – entirely oblivious to markings on the asphalt. There’s lots of wise guys around who are either in a big a rush, lazy, uncompassionate or a combination thereof.

Perhaps our sensitivity meter is wound a bit tight, or maybe it has to do with very good friends who struggle with these types of episodes from time to time. People just don’t think sometimes.

Tourist attractions and public venues have understood the challenges for disabled people for decades now. There are parameters for everything from widths to slopes that make it easier for people in wheelchairs and their care givers. It cannot be said every situation is perfect, but at least there is recognition that we need to consider the capabilities of others.

As more of us come to understand these limitations, there should be little excuse for not supporting a better regimen within the Ontario Building Code and the Planning Act. Many communities have advisory committees that cast light on various disabilities that need contemplation.

Former Lieutenant General, David Onley presented a report six months ago that addressed the barriers facing the province’s 2.6 million residents who are disabled. For those who may not remember Onley served from 2007 to 2014 and suffered from polio in his youth. In his report he described barriers as “soul-crushing.” Considered another way, imagine obstacles and how unwelcome a person must feel when they can’t participate or feel involved.

Now that people know, we must do better and make a point of help.