Golden Rule trumps ADA

As I approached an area business building housing several businesses, including a bank, last fall, I noticed the handicapped parking and ramp. Then, I tried to open the heavy door and wondered, “How is a person in a wheelchair expected to open that door?”

I bothered to ask at a business inside for the building owner’s name and number. The owner was cordial enough on the phone until I suggested a door opener for those needing assistance. He said in a defensive tone that his doors were set to the correct pounds of pressure and that he was not required to have a door opener. If the tenants wanted to get one on their own, he would allow it, he said.

Much good that allows those with disabilities to more freely move about and participate in public places has come from the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush. It has brought us handicapped parking and ramps, elevators where there were none, Braille on elevators, and beeps at traffic lights for the visually impaired. More places have bathroom accommodations for those in wheelchairs and more help is available in classrooms and on campuses for students.

Unfortunately though, there are many doors, even literal ones, yet to be opened for those with disabilities, which could be any of us at any time. What the business building owner has yet to learn is that much of the good that has come about for those with disabilities is not actually required by law. It’s more of a desire to follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do to you.

A big one for travelers with disabilities is that airlines are not required by law to provide wheelchairs and carts for those with disabilities. Likewise, hotels with tall beds provide stools as a courtesy to help customers get into bed. Buses that lower themselves to the curb to make it easier for those with disabilities to get on and off are offered beyond legal requirements. And, the father, who says to his young son “Get the door” as he sees a person needing help approaching one, has taught the next generation what it’s all about.

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