Community member, Daniella Slon wrote this article about accessibility in her hometown. We hope this inspires you to investigate your own local community and encourage establishments to consider accessibility to all customers.
Many thanks to Daniella and The Local for allowing us to expand the reach of this article to the global CMD community.
Last fall, I heard about a book club meeting being held at the Wissahickon Brewing Company. I love books and enjoy meeting like-minded people, so I signed up. I had never been to the brewery as I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I was looking forward to checking it out. As I approached the entrance, I was hit by a sadly familiar, sinking feeling. I looked at the two big steps into the establishment (no handrail); and I knew I could not get inside.
It is difficult to explain what it feels like when one cannot get inside a building due to a physical disability. It feels like there is a big sign proclaiming “People with Physical Disabilities Not Welcome.” It hurts. I didn’t know anyone inside to text for help and was not comfortable asking a stranger, so I left.
I have not always had a physical disability – I have only struggled with stairs and walking long distances in the last five years as a result of the slow progression of a rare form of congenital muscular dystrophy (type SEPN1) I was born with.
Prior, I never gave any thought to stairs, sidewalks and accessibility. Now it is at the forefront of my mind every day. Before I visit a business for the first time, I Google-Earth it so I can zoom in and assess whether or not I will be able to get in. It can be exhausting! I cannot imagine how much harder it is for someone in a wheelchair.
According to the US Census Bureau, more than 20 million people ages 18 and older reported having serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs in 2015, representing 7.1% of the civilian non-institutionalized population. I was unable to find any information on the number of physically disabled people in Philadelphia, let alone in East Falls – but I cannot be the only physically challenged person here.
What is important to remember, though we don’t like to think about it, is that anyone can become physically disabled at any time through age, illness or accident. So if you are reading this article and thinking – this doesn’t affect me, think again. Accessibility concerns all of us. I am hoping this article will foster new awareness about accessibility in East Falls, and help promote it in our caring community.
Check out the full article here, with photos of the establishments Daniella visited and comments from their owners.