Letter to the Editor


A win and a win

Dear Editor:

Re: Preposterous Law

There is a focus on cost and inconvenience of accessibility, when the cost for most to comply is negligible, establishing customer service policies and training staff.

The banking industry spent billions reinforcing floors for ATMs and most businesses have retrofit to accommodate technological advancements. Business is not static and change is often required to remain competitive. With one in seven Canadians having a disability, spending upwards of $25 billion dollars a year, why wouldn’t businesses want to be accessible to their entire market?  Plus, accessibility improves corporate perception, customer satisfaction and consumer loyalty. Win, win.

As the recent letter demonstrates, there is an obvious need for increased awareness. As with all movements of social change, we not only have to overcome barriers, but ignorance and resistance. As a person with a disability, I understand most barriers to access exist simply as a lack of awareness, not an act of malice.

Training staff in accessibility awareness provides adaptive service skills to improve interactions. All staff don’t have to know sign-language, but front-end staff knowing simple signs like “thank-you” can be beneficial.

Training won’t significantly impact the bottom line, but improved communication creating increased and repeat sales will.

The laws were not designed to inconvenience or bankrupt businesses. Restaurants spend thousands a year on crayons to entertain children, yet independence and dignity can be preserved for a few dollars for Braille and large-print menus so patrons need not be read to like a child. And it’s not just about shopping.

Frequently, I have been prevented from performing my job and earning a living, and others have been critically injured, stuck or stranded as a result of inaccessibility.

I am appreciative of people who offer their assistance, but I really don’t want help, just access so I can do it myself. But I am appreciative of any act of courtesy, disability or not.
Donna Jack,

Owner, Roll a Mile


in response to:

‘Preposterous’ law

Dear Editor:

I am not disabled, but I have travelled many places with a baby stroller on my own. I know it is frustrating when the handicap buttons on doors don’t work, or worse, aren’t even there. I know it is difficult when there is no ramp. However, I have never assumed that any business was discriminating against me or my children.

The Disabilities Act, which forces businesses to prepare to deal with all types of disabled customers, is preposterous. The problem is not that we lack laws to help those in need. The problem is our society is increasingly amoral. It used to be most people would rush to the aid of a mom struggling with a baby carriage, a blind man crossing the street, or a wheelchair-bound woman trying to reach something from the shelf in a store. And it used to be that those in need would graciously accept the help.

No one would cry, “Discrimination” because everyone knew there wasn’t any. Real discrimination is a sign in the window that reads, “No colored allowed” or “Public swimming pool: Whites only.”

It is impossible to accommodate every situation. Should grocery stores have shelves no taller than four feet so someone in a wheelchair or scooter can reach all the items? Should all businesses have someone on site who is trained in sign language? Should every restaurant offer menus in braille?

Legislating morality rarely works. Common sense, humility and kindness should suffice in all situations.
Andrea Black, SALEM