A few days ago, I was hobbling along with a hurt ankle. I am now 100%, but my ankle was really hurting and limiting my mobility for a few days.
I am not going to use today’s post to talk about my hurt ankle, but I will use my experience with it to hopefully expose readers to a some subtle ways that people with mobility issues aren’t accommodated:
Our Own Behavior
During my time with a bum ankle, there has been many a time when people have tried to push through me or push past me without the courtesy of an “excuse me” while trying to get from point A to point B.
Often, we are so obsessed with getting from point A to point B in a timely manner that I fear we aren’t conscious of some of these behaviors. In the process, we push around people, shove people, and honk at people on the road who are walking too slowly for our liking but who really aren’t capable of moving any more quickly than they are. I know this because, regrettably, there’ve been times when I or friends I’ve been with have been that jerk who gets tries to rush someone with mobility issues without even a simple “excuse me” or an “I’m sorry for bumping into you.”
Now the tables have been turned on me. Now it is others who weren’t treating slow and mobility-limited Brendan with courtesy. The tables may be turned on others of us one day, and I hope we can show respect to people with mobility issues before we become the ones with such challenges.
Some Escalators Move Too Quickly
I work near a subway stop with escalators aplenty. This seemed great to me…until I realized that the escalators move so quickly that I would need to push myself to get on without tripping and falling.
So I guess I should’ve been on the elevator instead, since this subway stop also has elevators. But in cases where the only access for people with limited mobility is an escalator, a quick-moving one is a real problem. I’m just glad that I haven’t taken a tumble yet while trying to get on or off one of these high-speed escalators.
Crosswalk Signals Are Also Too Quick Sometimes
There have been a few occasions before when even able-bodied Brendan struggled to get from one part of an intersection to the other in the time between when the light changed to “walk” and when it changed back to “don’t walk.” If I had a hurt ankle though…forget about it.
The solution here is obvious: make sure the crosswalk signals leave enough time for people to cross the street easily. And yet, that’s not done!
Elevators Are Sometimes in Areas That Make People Feel Unsafe
Speaking of subways, I get on a subway stop that has elevator access. However, this elevator is over by what is, without a doubt, the most isolated section of the subway station. It’s so isolated that even I, a person who had years of karate training, wouldn’t feel safe, particularly at night.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that, if we have accommodations for people with mobility issues in places where people feel unsafe, it defeats the purpose of the elevator access.
Of course, there may be other ways that people with mobility limitations are excluded. However, I am going off the knowledge from having a few days with a bad ankle, so I may have forgotten other key points. If there are other things I should’ve included, please comment below!
On the other hand, if you weren’t aware of these things before, I hope you are aware now!
 To me, any accommodation issue that might not be noticed easily by able-bodied people fits into the category of “subtle.” I acknowledge that what may be subtle to me might be painfully clear to even some other able-bodied people.
5 Replies to “Some Subtle Ways that People with Mobility Issues Aren’t Accommodated”
At my university, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, there is an important building that does not have an elevator. It is three stories tall. Students and faculty cannot access the campus bookstore (!), barbershop, post office, student radio station, or student newspaper offices. The faculty union office is on the top floor. There is a wheelchair lift, but it’s open and not safe for people who are standing. Plus it’s often out of order. Thanks for your post about the subtle and not-so subtle ways that we limit access to people with disabilities. PS, hope your ankle heals quickly.
Wow. That’s crazy! What happens to wheelchair users or someone who tore an ACL? It seems pretty impossible to be a student there if your mobility is limited.
My ankle is doing better, thankfully. 🙂 Now only if our society could only do better at accommodating people with limited or no mobility…
I have just had to start using a walking stick and have been impressed by how much space people give me and particularly by how careful young men are, which has been a lesson to me about not stereotyping young able bodied men,
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Agreed! And not stereotyping young able-bodied men also goes into issues of ageism too.
I guess isms are much less important than individual kindness!
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