Friday, December 3, 2010

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36...Image via Wikipedia
Did you know that December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an annual observance (since 1981) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations?

Well, neither did I...

Now that I do know, have visited their website UN enable and read the assignment for this year's celebration, I am ready to highlight an obstacle in implementing disability-sensitive policies right here in my community.

Did you know that it is not required for stores to provide a shopping scooter for their disabled and mobility-impaired customers?

I talked to a very nice clerk at the Trader Joe's in Santa Monica, which has two shopping scooters for patrons by the way, about this issue a few months back.

He told me that one of his relatives was forced to sue their local grocery store because they refused to provide a shopping scooter after requesting one many, many times. I discussed with this clerk my frustrations with two local Trader Joe's locations: one which did not have a scooter and the other where the scooter was broken and unusable. We talked about how it would see that, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, providing a shopping scooter would be required. Much to our dismay, apparently it is not.

For those of you who visit my blog, you know I advocate using a shopping scooter to stay within your energy envelope when grocery shopping. Every time I ignore my own advice, or I am forced to forgo using a scooter because the store doesn't have one, it is being used by someone else or the one they have is broken or not charged and ready to go, I always regret it.

Grocery shopping is like running a marathon for me. Without the shopping scooter, I feel dizzy, faint and utterly exhausted by the time I reach the cash register. There have even been a few times where I have actually abandoned my shopping because I get too tired to continue.

I don't understand how a grocery or retail store can say they are implementing disabled-sensitive policies if they don't provide a way for a mobility-impaired disabled person to travel around their store. After all, we need to shop for things like groceries, clothes and personal care items too. I have made it a policy not to shop at stores that don't provide shopping scooters as a way to protest, but I am not sure this is enough to force these retailers to change.

So I'm going to ask you to do two things:
  1. The next time you are out shopping, take a moment and look to see if your favorite stores offer shopping scooters to their disabled patrons.
  2. If they do not, speak up and say something to the manager like, "I see you don't have shopping scooters for disabled persons. My (wife, sister, daughter, friend etc.) couldn't shop here without one and you are losing her business."
Making the world more inclusive of persons with disabilities requires a bit of effort from all of us. On this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, stand up and demand that they are included and can participate in all aspects of daily life, just like all the healthy people out there can.

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