More progress needed on disabled access
Bermuda has in place, and has had for some time, a Human Rights Act. Among the five major categories concerning discrimination, there sits “Disability”. It is also, by the way, enshrined in the Constitution. However, the community at large appears to ignore this fact.
Having only recently become disabled myself, it came as something of a shock to find myself suddenly denied access to familiar retailers and businesses. Upon contact, they responded with “we only rent the premises and the landlord isn’t interested” or “it’s an old building, it’s just not possible” and on and on ad nauseam. I should also add to the list of violators our own “public” transport system. It is impossible to access a bus with a disability.
Most readers have travelled abroad and in doing so have encountered buses with ramps that can be dropped down to sidewalk level, thus allowing easy access and, I might add, helpful drivers who will assist. I have seen retail shops that may have three or four steps to access their premises, install at the side, a small platform lift that you can wheel into or step into with a walker, push a button and there you are. This negates the problem of installing a ramp.
I should like to mention at this point a local business I recently encountered, which has done the right thing. It is a medical practice located in an old, two-storey Bermuda house. In order to reach the first floor from the ground, they have installed a small two-person elevator that is affixed against an inside wall, thus alleviating the need to dig into the interior of the wall. I applaud them.
I must also mention those heavy glass doors on a couple of Front Street businesses that I could barely open when I was fully abled. So, although at street level, I’m unable to open the door. Those same business also have another lower floor (steps) and a further upper floor (steps).
I am informed that the most recent building codes require that businesses be disabled-accessible. I hope this is so — and is enforced.
Finally, I would like to remind offenders that they are in violation of the Human Rights Act 1981. There is no need for new laws, as this is already legislated. It must be enforced.
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