Mar. 18th, 2012

nightshade1972: (Default)
To Whom It May Concern:

My husband and I live in Houston.  We traveled to Corpus Christi this past weekend (Sat/Sun 3/17-3/18) to celebrate our seventh wedding anniversary.  As part of our trip, we visited your aquarium.

I am neurologically handicapped, and must use a walker for long excursions.  My walker is the "deluxe" type, with a fold out seat, handbrakes and wire storage basket.  I had my walker with me when we visited the aquarium.

My husband and I enjoyed the trip itself very much.  Your aquarium is a lovely facility, and we learned a lot about local and exotic marine life while we were there.  However...

I needed to use the restroom while at your facility.  The restroom was clearly marked as "handicapped accessible".  While the *main* entrance to the restroom was wide enough to accomodate a walker or wheelchair, the stall door was not.  I went into the restroom, and was confronted by a long row of sinks, a long row of stalls, and a very narrow corridor inbetween.  I had a great deal of difficulty navigating between the women coming out of the stalls and the women using the sinks.  Then, I looked to see which stall was the "accessible" stall.  I know from experience it's usually the stall at the end, but the width of the stall at the end of the row was not significantly wider than the width of the average restroom stall.  I literally had to back into the stall, keeping my walker in front of me.  Then I had to reach over my walker to shut and lock the stall door--there was no room for me to collapse my walker, and nowhere for me to store it even if I could.

Fortunately I do still have some mobility in my lower legs.  But--what if I didn't?  If I'd been completely paralyzed from the waist down, and unable to move my legs, there would have been no way for me to back into the stall.  There would have been nowhere for me to store a wheelchair.  And, even though the stall did have metal bars running along both sides of the stall from front to back, if I'm totally paralyzed and trying to move more than a hundred pounds of near-dead weight with just my arms, how am I supposed to get out of the chair, turn myself around, undress myself, sit on the toilet and take care of my needs without assistance?

I know your architects/designers didn't have malicious intent when the bathroom plans were designed and implemented.  But it's not enough that only the main bathroom entrance be wide enough.  The stall door has to be wide enough to allow a wheelchair or walker through, and the stall itself has to be wide enough to allow for a walker or wheelchair's turning radius.  That's what independent living is all about.  Not everyone can afford an aide, and not everyone wants to ask a friend or relative for help with basic needs.  Taking away a handicapped person's right to enjoy a public facility to the same extent an able-bodied person can is taking away their dignity.

Thank you for your time, and have a pleasant day
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