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teri
06-14-2002, 09:25 AM
How do you answer that?

I keep coming across this comment, or some variation of it on discussion boards. Somehow issues of health and safety for people with special needs and disabilities has been turned into an argument about entitlement. This is a real issue, an obstacle to people with disabilities more than any curb or impassable entrance. The resentment is building. People make derogatory comments about folks in wheelchairs, and there is stoney silence until other disabled folks speak up for them. It just feels like tacit agreement when that happens... it creates tense situations and embarassment.

I know there are some people who are obnoxious and "entitled" who abuse the system. I know that there are cheaters who fake disabilities. But now it has gotten to the point that we are all being painted with that same broad brush and it is affecting the quality of our public lives.

I see access and assistance issues as health and safety issues, not as entitlements. I am just not sure how to convey that to others who have dug in their heels and become gatekeepers instead of facilitators for people with disabilities. Looking for ideas here...

Bill Catherall
06-14-2002, 09:48 AM
Originally posted by teri
How do you answer that?
Give them an attitude adjustment...break both their legs. After being disabled themselves I'm sure they'll see it your way. ;)

Sorry...that's the first thing that pops up in my mind. I don't tollerate unkind, uncaring people.

A similar solution though is to help raise public awareness. In my college they had one day a year where volunteers would be given a dissability for the day. They would show up to the tables and pull a dissability out of a box (completely random) and have to live with it for the full day. Some were blind (blind folds), some were wheelchair bound, others had a broken leg (false cast and crutches), etc. The purpose was to "walk in their shoes" so to speak and help people with the above stated "attitude adjustment" (without the violence).

teri
06-14-2002, 09:57 AM
Bill,
We did that back in 1977, when I worked in the disabled student services department at my college. It really is an eye-opener.

I don't want to break their legs, just open their eyes!

cstephens
06-14-2002, 10:24 AM
Originally posted by teri
How do you answer that?

That's one of my "hot button" topics that I used to respond to all the time. Now, I just ignore it because most people who make that kind of statement are ignorant enough that it would be close to impossible to pound some sense into them, and it's not worth my time and energy.

Tony
06-14-2002, 10:42 AM
If I am annoyed enough (especially if I am using my wheelchair - something I have been able to do without for over six months now), I offer to trade them places: They can have my MS, I can be healthy and not have to worry about it. They usually can't respond to that.

My take is that they are looking to complain, but don't realy think through what they are saying. If I am feeling especially charitable, I'll explain how we may be getting "special treatment" now, but it is more than offset in the hassles and headaches faced on a daily basis.

Lani
06-14-2002, 10:58 AM
I've had conversations with folks about this (including AVP, who co-authors the Theme Park Access Guide here).

I think "special treatment" is when the city of Berkeley gives people with handicaps *FREE* parking in metered lots instead of just setting aside some metered spots that require ADA placards, because the city thinks people with handicaps are somehow inferior, and are not capable of being self-sufficient ("Oh, you can't walk. You poor thing, because you are handicapped, you can't get a REAL job, so you don't have to pay like everybody else"). What folks want is to be treated like an ordinary person -- no better, no worse.

[This goes against the philosophy of a good friend of mine, who thinks persons with disabilities have a hard enough life, they should be given every break possible. She must think people like me cold-hearted and cruel; I in turn, think persons with handicaps don't need this kind of ill-placed pity charity.]

The issue of using an SA pass in the park is a health issue. It's the same thing as having handicap parking spots near the building entrance. What would be "unfair" would be if persons with handicaps were allowed to enter the park for free because of the mere fact that they have handicaps.

Part of the problem with the park is that the queues were not necessarily designed with handicap access in mind. Some attractions, like Indy, allow you to stroll with your wheelchair through the bulk of the regular queue.

I understand some parks have folks wait in a seating area near the front of the queue until their party meets up with them after waiting in the queue. That is a satisfactory solution as well, and may help keep the complaining from the able-bodied to a minimum.

Here's a question: Now that the Federal government has declared obesity as a medical "handicap" that allows individuals to seek tax deductions, can the medically obese (defined as weighing 20% or more than the ideal weight for the person's height) demand SA passes at the park? Next time you go to the park, take a look at the average park-goer. [and if you've met me, you KNOW I am not a matchstick by any stretch of the imagination!]

Tony -- you are far too polite a person. If I needed to use a wheelchair on a regular basis, I would probably say something like, "Let's you and me trade. Take my wheelchair... and I'll time you while you go to the restroom without using your legs!" :p

teri
06-14-2002, 12:00 PM
Glad to hear you are ambulatory, Tony. :)

I am on a mission here. I don't just want people to stop complaining, I want to turn them into advocates...

(Hey, I can dream, can't I?)

Lani, re: the entitlement/charity issue.. I am right in the middle. I think people do deserve a break. When I worked in clinical medicine, I saw what my patients went through and it was enough. Their health and safety needed to be protected at a much greater cost of money, energy and heart. Lives, careers, families were disrupted by their disability. But they didn't need to be on a pedestal - they need accomodation for their special needs, and compassionate understanding, and as much chance for a normal life as they can get.

What I am starting to see now is more backlash, and less willingness on the part of others to step up and defend people with disabilities. I really noticed this last year at WDW - there was a change in CM attitude from previous years. And the tone on some discussion boards is getting more harsh. Hard to ignore.

I run into the same issue with my son, in special education... the same "special treatment" argument and implication that it is a waste of resources. :::sigh:::

MammaSilva
06-14-2002, 01:46 PM
teri, I've been dealing with the special needs issues for 21 years now and am likely to be doing it for Many many more God willing....and I have seen all facets, the condesending 'you poor thing' to the more aggressive, what a waste of time/money/resources and I do my best to educate but the bottom line is that the more that people abuse the system the harder it is to convince them that the special needs population don't want a hand out they want an opportunity to participte, and the access to do it varies, be it Tony in his wheelchair (WHOO HOOO he is amblatory for now!) or my daughter who at first glance looks fine but has medical issues that make those long ques impossible for her in or out of her chair, yes she has one for when she can't do it on her own, we let her walk as long/often as possible for her. When we run into that attitude I smile, offer a bit of educational information if the opportunity presents itself but I still "get" my way if it is within the guidelines. Attitudes are hard to change in a brief contact situation, I think there should be a nationwide educational program to enlighten those with the negative attitudes....

Tony
06-14-2002, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by lani
I think "special treatment" is when the city of Berkeley gives people with handicaps *FREE* parking in metered lots instead of just setting aside some metered spots that require ADA placards, because the city thinks people with handicaps are somehow inferior, and are not capable of being self-sufficient ("Oh, you can't walk. You poor thing, because you are handicapped, you can't get a REAL job, so you don't have to pay like everybody else"). What folks want is to be treated like an ordinary person -- no better, no worse.

Actually, to clarify Lani, that isn't Berkeley. That is California law. Persons with disabled placards may park in "Metered zones without paying, green zones without restictions to time limits, and streets where preferential parking privileges are given to residents and merchants." They may not park in "Red, yellow, white, or tow away zones."

I actually have used the meter benefit several times at CSU Long Beach because all too often the *two* disabled parking spaces for the building one of my classes are already taken.

I don't think it is so much a question of "poor thing" so much as to recognize that metered lots (and more especially streets) frequently do not have any designated disabled parking.

I think what it comes down to is that most people with disabilities want equal opportunity. Sometimes that could be considered "special treatment" by those without disabilities, but if they look at it objectively, it isn't. My best example was Plaza Pavillion and the ramp. I complained for several years, along with others, that the resturaunt had no ramp, even though it was easilly installed. I was repeatedly told that I could ask a cast member to get my food for me, and they would walk into the restaraunt, get it for, and bring it to the table. That could (and probably would) be considered special treatment by some people - the problem was, it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted the same opportunity as everyone else to see the food and select what I wanted.

teri
06-14-2002, 03:26 PM
Originally posted by mammasilva
Attitudes are hard to change in a brief contact situation, I think there should be a nationwide educational program to enlighten those with the negative attitudes....

I'll drink to that. (as she raises her goblet of sparkling cider...)

Support for equal access, and consideration of special health and safety concerns of disabled guests. Is that "special treatment" or common decency? That is the issue to me... respect vs. condescension/disrespect. Seriously, there is a real edge to some comments that people make, in person and on the 'net. A real control issue.

HBTiggerFan
06-14-2002, 03:38 PM
OK, I have a question. In my area we have several neighborhoods that have duplex style apartments, and occassionally I see a "blue zone" with a handicapp sign up, and I figure that someone who live close is disabled. But who do they go to to have that done? I think that it is a very good thing and not special treatmetn for that person since parking in these areas is a nighmare, but I have other friends who whine and complain about it. I want to be able to tell them what agency/place does this so they quit saying that the owner did it.

Also, Tony, thanks for the info. about the laws of parking :) I now will no longer get ticked when I see cars around a placecard holder have tickets on their windows for being in a greenzone for longer than the alloted time.

MammaSilva
06-14-2002, 03:46 PM
actually, the handicapped space isn't there because there is a handicapped person near by, the parking codes require there to be x amount of handicapped parking per x amount of parking spaces, 'generally' they are up close and have extra space to acoomodate lifts for wheelchairs but not always...and rarely are there enough designated spaces which is where the 'no limit' on the green zones or paying for parking meters comes into play....we live in a condo complex that has NO handicapped parking in our "common" parking areas, I complained to the HOA and was told oh well to bad this is private property and exempt, so we are forced to be rude and take up two spaces to allow for the lift and loading/unloading of my best friends daughter when they are here visiting

AVP
06-14-2002, 04:43 PM
Originally posted by HB Tigger Fan
OK, I have a question. In my area we have several neighborhoods that have duplex style apartments, and occassionally I see a "blue zone" with a handicapp sign up, and I figure that someone who live close is disabled. But who do they go to to have that done? I think that it is a very good thing and not special treatmetn for that person since parking in these areas is a nighmare, but I have other friends who whine and complain about it. I want to be able to tell them what agency/place does this so they quit saying that the owner did it.

That is something that your city will do for you if you request it. You must be diagnosed with a permanent disability, and have been issued a permanent placard or license plates. (Not a temp placard or whatever)

When your friends whine about how far away they had to park, tell them to imagine that same hike with a wheelchair and a bag of groceries.

As for the overall "tone" of the disability issue.... I think the discussions are happening more frequently because the abuses are getting out of hand. It is very difficult for me to see teenagers swapping wheelchairs at Disneyland without wanting to smack someone. (Usually the parents who raised such ill-mannered brats) I think people vent that frustration in different ways, and some do so by painting ALL people with disabilities with the same brush.

That said, I do believe that some people with disabilities take advantage of their situation. A CM friend is involved with an ongoing situation in DCA right now, where a regular visitor is abusing their special assistance pass to gain preferential treatment. The access that this person wants has NOTHING to do with their alleged disability, but they are trying to play a trump card to get something not normally offered to guests. To me, THAT is wrong.

Frankly, I have no problem with the way WDW does Special Assistance passes. If you claim that you can't stand in lines, and a FastPass is available at the attraction, you are expected to get one and return at the assigned time. If not, you are given a hand-written pass, and asked to return at a time equivalent to the current wait time. If you claim a sun sensitivity, you are given a Special Assistance pass good only during daylight hours. If you claim a heart condition, you are given a SAP that is NOT valid on rides with physical restrictions. I think people in rented wheelchairs need to also show a SAP to use the wheelchair access, and I think anyone caught "swapping" wheelchairs needs to lose both the chair AND their admission. I do not think that an arm cast entitles you to a SAP, nor do I think people with visual or hearing impairments need them unless they ALSO have a mobility impairment. (Although I'm willing to consider that people with a visual impairment visiting the park without an assistance animal or a sighted companion may need one for attractions that have a difficult-to-navigate queue)

I guess the problem is that it is not "politically correct" to challenge people when they say they need a special assistance pass. (Unless Tony, who uses a cane 24/7, tries to get one - then they want notarized Dr. notes and MRIs :D ) Walt Disney World does it, and I think it is something Disneyland needs to consider.

What I *really* wish is that Disneyland would join Knotts and Disneyland Paris in giving APs PERMANENT SAPs on their annual passes. Imagine only having to "prove" your disability once a year!

Mammasilva - your HOA is WRONG. Here's a little tidbit for them from the HUD website:


Q. Are condominiums covered by the Fair Housing Act?
A. Yes. Condominiums in covered multifamily dwellings are covered by the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act makes no distinctions based on ownership.


The Guidelines provide that a minimum of two percent of the parking spaces serving covered dwelling units be made accessible and located on an accessible route to wheelchair users. Also, if a resident requests an accessible space, additional accessible parking spaces would be necessary if the two percent are already reserved.

There is a ton of info on the HUD site. (http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/disabilities/index.cfm) If they need a "clarification", tell them you'll be happy to file a complaint with HUD to get them the answers they need.

AVP

teri
06-14-2002, 05:20 PM
Hmmm... I would have to disagree about swapping wheelchairs... there are many families who will take turns using a wheelchair or ECV for traversing the distances between attractions. I did this with my family when I took 5 elderly relatives. If I could have pushed 4 wheelchairs, I would have. My arthritis, and lack of 6 other arms, made that impossible, so we did the best we could to get the folks to where we wanted to go. No way they could stand in those lines. As a matter of fact, WDW Guest Services recommends this to all guests who may have difficulty with stamina. It is even in the Guidebook. (I wish I could have talked them into ECVs. You should have seen me, 5 elderly relative and 2 special needs kids... I had blisters on my hands from pushing the chair and I had to go on steroids 2 days later for my own arthritis... we had to stop every 20 yards for people to sit down, or for me to chase my son.) That is not cheating.

The problem is when people are using a wheelchair to get to the front of the line when they would be able to do it on their own without compromising their own health and safety... those brat teenagers, for example. That is cheating. They ruin it for eveyone.

That person in the arm cast may have fallen because they have MS... don't judge. If somebody is in pain and on medication, I have no problem having them get in an alternate entrance to sit down for the shows rather than standing and waiting in the mainstream queue.

The "Yellow Card" at WDW (the pass that brings you back at the end of the posted standy wait time) is only for FastPass Attractions, not for all attractions... unless they changed it in the last month..??? It is a brand-new system, I haven't been since December and it wasn't in place yet. We always use the FP system anyway.

People with Visual impairments do need a GAC if need to get the front and center preferential seating in shows. There is a special stamp that they put on the GAC for this purpose.

Not all GAC/SAP guests have mobility impairments. Some people have medical issues that can't be seen. Some people (like me) have kids with autism, the mainstream queues are not always appropriate.

And, some people really do need a break.

Yes, there are jerks... there is a special place in hell for people who abuse the system, and that place is fully accessible. I hate to see them cause the accomodations to be held back or withdrawn.

dsnyredhead
06-14-2002, 05:40 PM
Originally posted by AVP


I think people in rented wheelchairs need to also show a SAP to use the wheelchair access, and I think anyone caught "swapping" wheelchairs needs to lose both the chair AND their admission.


AVP

I would have no problem showing an SAP pass along with the wheelchair. I usually carry my disabled paperwork in my backpack and would have no trouble showing that to CM's that question my disability.

Second, the part about swapping. This needs to be seriously looked at before people just start throwing people out of the park.

A close friend of mine and I have completely different conditions which affect our ability to walk. Typically, we can walk for short periods of time. There are occasions where we have swapped the wheelchair because we won't need the wheelchair all day but for alternating parts of the day. Since I have a neuromuscular condition, it's good for me to get up and get a little exercise during the day. It probably is for her too. It doesn't mean that we are cheating. It just allows both of us to spend the day with friends and not be both stuck sitting in some restaurant for the whole day.

This is also a case for the "well the person was up walking around just a minute ago" problem. My condition is so eratic that some days I am completely fine while others I am not. Some days I can walk in the morning and not in the evening and vise versa. I just can't walk long distances. It really all depends on how much walking I am doing and how I am feeling that day. I know that sounds silly, but that's the nature of my condition.

I don't see having an SAP as an entitlement. I see it as assistance since it is difficult for me to stand in a long line or walk for long periods of time. I also don't see using a wheelchair as a line jumper. I see it as the only way I can go through the park on some days.

I do like the way Knotts has it. On my AP there is a disabled mark on it. That way it's less of a fuss. For the Knotts mark on your AP they did ask for either a doctors note or parking paperwork. But now that it's on the AP I don't need to show proof everytime I go to Knotts.

MammaSilva
06-14-2002, 06:10 PM
I can tell by this thread that I don't think I'll be taking Brandy to WDW after all, I'd have to get serveral different SAP's since she has several conditions, sensative to sunlight, can't stand/wait long periods, needs her wheelchair intermittingly (SP? have I mentioned I really miss spellcheck?) has a seizure disorder that makes going thru the ques difficult (too much stim ... she can handle the ride OR the que but ususally not both) ... I think we'll stick with Disneyland/DCA .....I bring her paperwork each time, the CM's are always really nice about it but since we have AP's I can't get a 'lenght of visit' one, we have to go every morning and get a new one :( I would love it if they would just mark her AP with a SAP symbol..

dsnyredhead
06-14-2002, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by mammasilva
I can tell by this thread that I don't think I'll be taking Brandy to WDW after all, I'd have to get serveral different SAP's since she has several conditions, sensative to sunlight, can't stand/wait long periods, needs her wheelchair intermittingly (SP? have I mentioned I really miss spellcheck?) has a seizure disorder that makes going thru the ques difficult (too much stim ... she can handle the ride OR the que but ususally not both) . I would love it if they would just mark her AP with a SAP symbol..

In spite of all the problems with the system, I sincerely do hope that you don't cancel a trip just because of it. Go to WDW and have a good vacation. Brandy will probably have good memories that will be remembered long after the vacation.

adriennek
06-14-2002, 07:46 PM
Originally posted by teri
The problem is when people are using a wheelchair to get to the front of the line when they would be able to do it on their own without compromising their own health and safety... those brat teenagers, for example. That is cheating. They ruin it for eveyone.

That person in the arm cast may have fallen because they have MS... don't judge. If somebody is in pain and on medication, I have no problem having them get in an alternate entrance to sit down for the shows rather than standing and waiting in the mainstream queue.

To start, I've been reading this thread with great interest and was not too surprised to see AVP verbalize what I've been thinking: it's the people who abuse the system who create the problem, IMO.

Let me tell you, AVP is one of the last people I know to judge others whose disabilities might not look obvious. *I'm* usually judging people right and left and she's giving me the look or the stern reminder not to. :)

As for the arm cast: If someone is in an arm cast because he/she fell because of MS, CERTAINLY that person deserves an SA Pass! Someone who's in an armcast because he/she fell skiing, no.

AVP actually has a bit of a reference point to draw from on this situation, thanks to some relatives of mine who I'm not too proud of. (THAT'S an understatement. Those of you who know me: stop laughing.)

Last summer, a teenaged relative broke a bone and had a cast on her leg. Another relative, (her 55+ aunt) suggested that they go to DCA because this was a great opportunity to go on all the rides without having to stand in line! They went to the park and grabbed a wheelchair. Imagine their surprise to find out that all of the lines at DCA are wheelchair accessible!

The relative went to Guest Relations and complained bitterly, demanding an SA pass which, I'm happy to report, they didn't get. This teenager had nothing else wrong with her. She was perfectly capable of sitting in the wheelchair in line. She was actually *up and about* for quite awhile at a family gathering I hosted that same week. (It was a baptism, so they were at a church and then at my home later in the day. It was a long day and she was playing around even, at the party.)

These relatives had no concept of how great it was that DCA accommodated wheelchairs, the aunt just moaned and groaned about how they deserved special treatment.

No, they didn't. They had a wheelchair and their needs were well met. They and their group were fully capable of pushing the wheelchair around all day and stand in lines. They had no reason to complain. And these people, I submit, as examples of people who abuse the system and make it much harder for others who legitimately can't wait in lines because of visible or "invisible" disabilities.

Adrienne K

teri
06-14-2002, 09:50 PM
Originally posted by mammasilva
I can tell by this thread that I don't think I'll be taking Brandy to WDW after all, I'd have to get serveral different SAP's since she has several conditions, sensative to sunlight, can't stand/wait long periods, needs her wheelchair intermittingly (SP? have I mentioned I really miss spellcheck?) has a seizure disorder that makes going thru the ques difficult (too much stim ... she can handle the ride OR the que but ususally not both) ... I think we'll stick with Disneyland/DCA .....I bring her paperwork each time, the CM's are always really nice about it but since we have AP's I can't get a 'lenght of visit' one, we have to go every morning and get a new one :( I would love it if they would just mark her AP with a SAP symbol..

Mammasilva, you would get one GAC at WDW for your daughter, for the length of stay. The GAC is not the same as the SAP. There is space on the form for various stamps that describe the accomodation that your daughter would need. The Card itself is larger than the Disneyland SAP. We have never had a problem getting the GAC, and rarely had any problems with CMs at WDW. Very rare. It is a terrific place for a vacation for people with disabilities. And, I have to add, the CMs there, for the most part, are very compassionate and go out of their way to help disabled and injured guests have a good vacation. Since there are many more non-ride attractions and shows there, you will find plenty to do.

I went a year ago February for a 5 day trip while my arthritis was in a flare, rode on only 1 ride in the entire 5 days I was there and had an amazingly nice time. It really is very nice. I think Disneyland is very nice, too, in a different way.

MammaSilva
06-14-2002, 10:04 PM
????? a GAC? That is a term I haven't heard before?

teri
06-14-2002, 10:17 PM
Adrienne... perfect example. :)

GAC = Guest Assistance Card. They changed the name a couple of years ago to highlight that it is not a Pass to get to the front of the line. It is a note to the CMs that you need special assistance, which sometimes (in your case) will include using alternate entrances in the event of mainstream queues for the other wheelchair users.

It isn't just for rides and queues- there is accessible seating in shows, they allow you to park close to the tram stop if you are using the tram, and they are also very quick to offer assistance if you are out and about, and having a hard time. It is a signal to them, you are a guest who may need special assistance. Takes about 15 seconds and some of the edge off explaining when you really need help. Especially useful if you are traveling with an autistic or very hypersensitive family member. They are just great about it.

MammaSilva
06-14-2002, 10:28 PM
thanks for the information Teri, we really want to go in about 3 years but have to say I am sooo spoiled by the way the CM's treat her at Disneyland that I worry, the Six Flags parks SUCK in guest relations for the disabled population, Knotts was very nice and their Staff very professional but so far we have never had any park top the way she gets treated at Disneyland, and I don't mean the 'skip the line' part of the pass, I mean the respect that the CM's show, the little extras they seem to be willing to go for her .. good example, she loves loves loves to drive the jeep on Indy, when we go I always ask the CM if it would be possible and always let them know we don't mind waiting a bit until it would be convienant, we rarely ever wait more than one loading cycle for that to happen....the CM's at the HM never seem rude when we have her chair and she can't walk that day .. we do the up and back in the stretching room and the CM usually jokes with us on the return trip......couple of things I always do tho, thank the CM's for their assistance, never 'demand' privleges for her and please/thank yous go a long way....

RealDisneyLegend
06-14-2002, 10:32 PM
Actually, to clarify Lani, that isn't Berkeley. That is California law. Persons with disabled placards may park in "Metered zones without paying,

And with good reason! Folks who use wheelchairs may have trouble reaching/operating a parking meter, so they're not ticketed if the time expires.

teri
06-14-2002, 10:43 PM
I prefer to think of it as "using the alternate entrance" rather than "skipping the line." :) There have been many times when we waited longer than the people in the standby line, especially if we were using a wheelchair.

We are happy to wait, too, although I really wish it was not at the exit. Most CMs have been super-nice to us. We have only had a few negative encounters with CMs in the 6 years that we have been going to WDW and Disneyland with our kids, and that was with CMs who seemed to be on a mission to weed out cheaters and go on tirades about how other people misuse the system. I don't appreciate verbal assaults around my kids. Those are the CMs I worry about - the rest are terrific. Both Disneyland and WDW.

MammaSilva
06-14-2002, 10:46 PM
in all our trips we only had that happen one time, the CM actually made snide remarks about the SAP being an 'excellent forgery', I took down his name and as soon as we got off the ride went to City Hall and reported the behavior, it's the only complaint I've ever filed at City Hall, but I almost always have a compliment or two to leave for CM's that go above and beyond..