Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Intentional Unintentional Disability Discrimination #Marfan #Aorta #Dissection

Sometimes a gentle reminder is necessary.  The world is full of disadvantaged and 'minority' groups.  Those of us who are disabled often feel, as many other disadvantaged peoples do, that we are all too easily forgotten.

Parked in Not One But Two Handicap Spots! #Discrimination #Disabled

Days can go by filled with and full of positive reinforcement.  Usually most people are so willing to help one with a walker or cane through the door or provide a space at the head of the line.

But just when you take the deep breath of appreciation for those supportive weeks, out of the blue those bad days show up.

The deep breath of feeling a part of 'normal' society is suddenly deflated.  Poof.  Emptied.  Exhaled.  Gone.

Like the good days the bad days seem to come in waves.

This week was one of those times where the notion that I, as a person with physical challenges (chronic dissection and affiliated health issues), was not really a part of the 'real' world.

A pity party perhaps?  Maybe reoccurring PTSD, or subliminal depression? Maybe my self-esteem is too low?  And really, why do I take perceived discrimination so personal?  These are all thoughts that shoot through my mind after a day filled with 'intentional unintentional disability discrimination'.

The phrase 'intentional unintentional disability discrimination'  may sound confusing.  Simply put, it is when someone intentionally, but without overt malice, acts to ignore or avoid the reality of the disabled persons world.

And this week I was reminded that 'intentional unintentional disability discrimination' is all too alive and well in the world.

First and foremost, discrimination is discrimination - intentional or unintentional, blatant or subtle.

There is no excuse for any type of discrimination, at all, ever.  However most of us are willing to give others the benefit of the doubt.

"They really did not mean what they said or did" is the phrase I find myself thinking when confronted with 'intentional unintentional disability discrimination'.

However, persons must accept responsibility for their actions, intentional or unintentional.  When discrimination occurs it occurs, and ignorance is no excuse.

For me the solution lies in sharing peaceful awareness, letting the offending party know I feel I've been discriminated against as a person with limiting physical and mental challenges.

No good can come from aggressive confrontational or angry retorts.

But I've seen great things happen when the 'normal' world acknowledges and accommodates a disabled person's struggles.

So to the person who replied, "My sense is that this is no path for people to trifle with if inexperienced" to my post in a Florida Trail Hiking group inquiring if there were other disabled or physically challenged hikers, I know your comment was unintentional with respect to any discrimination, perceived or otherwise.

Immediately I equated the terms 'trifle' and 'inexperienced' to be discriminatory towards disabled persons though.  Just because one is disabled does not mean they are trifling with the sport of hiking.  Likewise just because someone may be a disabled hiker does not necessarily mean they are an inexperienced hiker either.

Making an instant leap from 'disabled' to 'trifle' or 'disabled' to 'inexperienced' is discriminatory, intentional or not.

I replied and suggested that sometimes persons with disabilities may actually be more aware of safety issues due to daily coping with physical challenges.  The commentor agreed and let the topic pass by saying "maybe disabilities are just matters of individuals limitations to imagine another person's capabilities".  Not too sure what they meant but the reply sounded helpful.

Anyway after thinking on the matter for a day I moved past the thought of 'trifle or inexperienced hiking' as a good description of my focused outdoor physical therapy treks.

But then the Frito Lay truck showed up.

In Florida it is illegal to park not only in handicap spots without a handicap designation but it is also illegal for anyone to park in access isles adjacent the handicap spots.
The disabled license tag on our van helps me tremendously.  The doctors say I should not lift heavy items.  A dissected aorta's tear can worsen under shear stress and carrying groceries to the car can create that stress.  With my Marfan connective tissue challenges debilitating bone and joint subluxation can occur with any step. So I am grateful I can make the trip from checkout to car as short as possible while carrying groceries.

Invariably, I end up doing more than I am supposed to.  It's my nature.  I want to help.  I don't want my wife to do all the lifting either.  I don't heed the advice of my doctor.  So the disabled parking spots keep me in check too.  They help me stay alive.

But when I pulled into the Fort Myers Beach Publix and found the Frito Lay truck parked in not only one disabled spot, but multiple disabled spots, I was puzzled.

Certainly parking in a handicap spot without the handicap designation is illegal under Florida law.  Florida Statutes, Title XXIII, Section 316.1956 states:

"316.1955 Enforcement of parking requirements for persons who have disabilities.
(1) It is unlawful for any person to stop, stand, or park a vehicle within, or to obstruct, any such specially designated and marked parking space provided in accordance with s. 553.5041, unless the vehicle displays a disabled parking permit issued under s. 316.1958 or s. 320.0848 or a license plate issued under s. 320.084, s. 320.0842, s. 320.0843, or s. 320.0845, and the vehicle is transporting the person to whom the displayed permit is issued."

The use of multiple handicap parking spaces for commercial transactions doubly surprised me because Publix is quite aware of and sensitive to the challenges of the disabled.  In fact I see more persons with physical disabilities employed at Publix than I do most anywhere else in Florida.
Handicap Parking is Meant to Facilitate Access for Disabled Persons, not Commercial Enterprises

Kudos to Publix for recognizing the challenges of disabled persons!

Publix also displays their commitment to handicap accessibility with a large sign next to their front door.
Publix is Keenly Aware of the Importance of Handicap Access and Kudos to Publix for Their Efforts in Disabled Employment!

So I was actually taken aback with the 'intentional unintentional disability discrimination' by both Frito Lay and Publix with respect to Florida law, handicap parking and disabled persons access.

Moreover, these photos were taken after the store had opened.  But the law still applies to handicap parking after hours.  There is no excuse.

Truly I know there is no ill will towards persons with disabilities from either Publix or Frito Lay.  This is just another case of 'intentional unintentional disability discrimination'.

Yet it stings. And it is wrong.

Upon seeing the Frito Lay truck parked in the handicap spots and access isles I felt that same notion of being a second class citizen, one many other 'minorities' feel daily too.

But I only ask that we acknowledge what is real.  Disability discrimination does exist, daily.

And the only way to overcome disability discrimination is through awareness.

So, thank you Publix for all you do to help persons with disabilities.  And thank you Frito Lay too.

This may be an appropriate time to remind all parties that ensuring American with Disabilities Act compliance is an ongoing effort, one we can not afford to forget.

Intentional Unintentional Disability Discrimination is wrong.  We all need to stop ignoring it and work together to make it go away.

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