Guest Commentary: What Would You Want?

By Ana Taylor

September 21, 2009

Have you ever wondered what it is like for someone else to go about their living? I’m sure at some point in all of our lives someone has said, “Try to think what it’s like in my shoes.” People today are caught up in their own lives, problems, and health concerns. It appears to me as if they think they’re the only ones who should be accommodated. Whether you are disabled or just experiencing old age, everyone should have equal access to commercial business,
even if it’s a little more “leg work” for the owner.

I can’t walk on my own. Some of my muscles are always tight and no matter what I do they will always be that way. I have a hard time doing some simple daily tasks. Many places are accessible to my wheelchair, but some are not. How do you tell a restaurant manager that you would like to have dinner there, but you can’t get past the front door? It is always difficult because they may think that they have made accessible improvements but a small step here, or a low table there, ruins all their efforts. That is why education is so important. Persons with disabilities must patiently help others learn how to
make things accessible and what the benefits to them are.

Accessibility isn’t always in everyone’s mind when they are thinking about starting a business. Why is that? I don’t think people are trying to exclude those in wheelchairs, or the elderly. But there is always the dreaded rational called “not enough money.” I am not implying people should not make their business what they envisioned it to be, but the owner can lose business if people who use mobility devices can’t use all of the facility.

That is where the education piece comes into play. Owners need to understand that if their business is designed well for people with disabilities then it will work for anyone, while the opposite is not true. Increased accessibility means an increased customer base. American’s are living longer and many have mobility problems. But they don’t want to stay home alone. The more accessible the community is, the more these people will use, and buy, the services offered.

Anna Taylor
Portland Oregon