Today, July 26th, 2021 is the 31st anniversary of the American Disabilities Act, signed into law in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush. The President’s directive on that day — “Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” — extolled the simple yet long overdue message of the ADA: that millions of Americans with disabilities are full-fledged citizens and entitled to legal protections that ensure equal opportunity and access to the mainstream of American life.
I wrote about the ADA last year on the 30th anniversary so I don’t have much new to say about it. It just so happened that today I had to take J for a Social Security Administration (SSA) required disability examination at a medical facility in a nearby town. The purpose of this exam is to reaffirm that J is truly disabled — I guess 4.5 years of medical history from her doctors at Yale is not sufficient evidence. Anyway, I confirmed that this is the SSA’s normal practice and critical to J’s continuing eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance so I did not complain.
Accessibility is a Continuing Problem
The medical office was in a large commercial building with multiple medical groups. We were visiting an independent medical group that is part of a nationwide network that does evaluations for the SSA, and from the looks of the office (small reception area, one exam room, no other facilities), that is all they do. The office was so small that to give the eye exam, J sat in the reception area and looked at an eye chart on the far wall of the exam room. Thank goodness J has a small transport wheelchair as there might not have been enough room to navigate otherwise.
I drove into the building’s parking lot and immediately noticed there was only one handicapped spot and it was taken. Really? Thankfully, that person just happened to be leaving so I parked there, got J into her wheelchair, and proceeded to roll her up a ramp that is the longest ramp we have ever travelled. Bear in mind, it is 90+ degrees today with high humidity. We get to the entry door and it has no automatic assist. Really? Thankfully, someone was leaving the building and held the door for us. After I struggled a bit to get over the threshold, we entered the building lobby.
The door to the medical group was locked with instructions to call, which I did. A receptionist/nurse came out after a couple of minutes and gave me paperwork to fill out — which I could swear I had already done in advance and faxed in. She left us in the unairconditioned lobby while the doctor finished with another patient and I did the paperwork. Finally, we got in to see the doctor and all was over within minutes. The validity of the exam as a way to combat fraud is questionable but that’s best left for another post.
The Moral of the Story…
If the medical group that does the disability examinations for the Social Security Administration can’t locate itself in a building that is friendly to people in wheelchairs, then we still have a long way to go! I’m going to file an ADA complaint to bring attention to crazy and annoying situation. I’d love to hear about your accessibility issues Feel free to comment or send me an email. I love taking on a challenge!
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