In the June 2 issue of The Salt Lake Tribune there was an article about Brigham Young University having problems in being disabled-friendly. I’ve got news for the valley. It’s not just BYU. Many of the problems listed are also present in Salt Lake City and surrounding towns.
There are too few disabled-accessible apartments. Most have a three-year waiting list, or they say they are handicapped-accessible, but one arrives to find the apartments have to be accessed by going down or up some stairs and do not have any ramps or elevators. Doors are hard to open, few have the buttons that would automatically open them, and many doorways are very narrow. Aisles in stores are narrow and half the shelves are too high to reach.
Parking spaces for cars with disabled plates are few and difficult to find, and even fewer are for vehicles that need a wider space to accommodate wheelchair loading/unloading. Ramps and sidewalks are not shoveled in the winter (despite there being laws both local and state saying they must be within 24 hours) and ramps from roads to sidewalks get blocked by snow plows.
Crosswalks are far distant and do not give enough time for even an abled-body person to cross without running in many cases.
Buses turn away wheelchair users if the only two places are occupied. They can be filled by wheelchair users, people with strollers, people with grocery carts or “normal” people who refuse to move.
I could go on and on. Which surprised me, as, before I moved back to Salt Lake, I saw a number of articles that lauded the area as being very handicapped friendly, which mattered to me as I now have to use a wheelchair.
Don’t think I have only found negatives. The biggest plus in this area is the general public seeing a disabled person struggling to cross an icy area, or to open doors while also trying to maneuver their wheelchair through the doorway.
People making decisions about the city and buildings — either built or going to be built — should have to spend a week in a wheelchair or having another disability to learn just what 10% of the city’s population goes through in living here. Yes, the disabled community is at least 10% of the population, and growing daily as we age.
I would also suggest watching “United Shades of America: The Disability Community.” Some of these things only help the disabled but some would help everyone.
Jessica Edwards, Salt Lake City