update: is paratransit making me look like a slacker?

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer worried paratransit delays were making them look like a slacker? Here’s the update.

I know my letter wasn’t as spicy as some, but I always like reading the updates so I thought I’d send one in. It’s not the triumphant response I would have scripted if this were a movie, but I was able to find some kind of peace. I also want to thank you and everyone who commented–I read everything and tried to respond and update as much as I could.

The day you published my letter was a real rollercoaster of emotions. First, I woke up to the letter and a bunch of really lovely comments that made me feel sooo much better about the situation! Then my mood was brought down a bit when, as I mentioned in the comments, paratransit came early to take me to work and I had to rush out the door in a somewhat frazzled state. I was still feeling good about the day overall when out of nowhere, a coworker asked some invasive and inappropriate questions about my disability. Not only was this upsetting in and of itself, but it also made me worry that since (at least some) other staff don’t see a problem with that, what happens if a member of the public starts asking me invasive questions–would my managers think I was the rude one if I didn’t give them that information? Well, I had plenty of time to wonder about that because that evening after work paratransit just… didn’t come to get me. Ever. I sat in the cold for more than two hours before someone I live with was finally able to drive me home. It was a monumentally sucky workday and (between that and the responses to my letter) it helped clarify a few things for me:

1) To adapt a phrase, paratransit sucks and it isn’t going to change. And like with a bad boss, there is a certain freedom in not allowing yourself to be too disappointed in a service that you know will be bad more often than it is good. I mentioned in the comments that I was able to get rides from housemates when my work schedule lined up with theirs, so I made a big effort to try to better align my schedule so I could do that instead of relying on paratransit (some commenters also suggested Uber/Lyft but those are hard to get in my town, too expensive, and complicated with a wheelchair like mine).

2) My stress over paratransit was definitely partially about unreliable paratransit but also very much part of a larger picture of ableism and inaccessibility at work. When I was hired, someone mentioned that the place had never hired a wheelchair user before, and, uh… I can tell. Some of it is the setup of the job–think, things that are inaccessible/out of reach not necessarily because they work better that way but just because that’s how they are and I guess nobody reckoned with wheelchair users using the (public) building/services we provide (it’s a new, built-long-post-ADA building BTW). Some of it is social attitudes. None of my coworkers have been negative or hostile about my disability in the traditional sense, it’s more on the level of weird questions or “sympathetic” comments about how tragic disabled people’s lives are. Recognizing that this was an issue with my workplace more so than with me as a person also helped me because it gave me permission to mentally distance myself from the subject–if people think my life is sad or that my identity/interests/personality is limited to my disability, that’s bizarre and weird of them to think that way but ultimately not my job to correct. My managers and members of the public seem happy with my job performance and I just try to take the good things from each workday (not least: money, baby!) and let the bad/odd/annoying stuff wash off of me.

One more thing: a number of commenters suggested reporting my issues with paratransit or making some kind of complaint. In some ways, I think it was useful for me to read so many people saying that because it helped me understand that this was a problem (but not a me problem). However, as I said at the time, I was not interested in doing that–it’s a whole lot of time/energy/stress/effort that I just don’t have to spare, especially when the prevalence of paratransit issues made it seem pretty unlikely to have any impact. I fully realize that that might make this an unsatisfying update for people who wanted me to make a fuss or make some real change in the system, but I also want to encourage folks to try to understand why people might not want to go through the trouble of making formal reports. I think that when you see someone in a situation that isn’t right it can be easy/tempting to think that calling on some higher authority will fix it, but too often I think that isn’t the case. And of course, this tends to just put more work and expectations onto already marginalized people. I’m not sure I’m articulating this very well (I’ve been struggling to describe it for a while) and I don’t think anyone meant anything but good with their comments, but I just wanted to mention it.

{ 130 comments… read them below }

  1. lazuli*

    I think you articulated the last bit very well! There is an assumption, when the system works well for you, that the system will of COURSE work well for everyone else, and if it’s not working, all it takes is a stern letter to the proper authority to fix it immediately. (And, of course, the assumption that the person writing the letter will automatically be believed.) The world does not work that way for marginalized folks, and I’m really glad that you pointed that out.

    So glad you’re coming to a place of peace and productivity with your job!

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Exactly. It’s easy for anyone on the outside to say, “you need to report that!” But for someone living in the middle of it, well, choose your battles. And to borrow a quote, “you chose wisely.” Embrace what you can change and let the rest go.
      One thing I discovered from this site in particular is how ingrained is the idea of putting the burden of fixing something that is wrong on the person who is being wronged. “You need to speak/do/report/act”
      Not all the time. Sometimes you just need to live your life and let other people fix their own crap.

      1. lazuli*

        Which is (as others have pointed out below) why allies can be so important, at least in areas of systemic oppression — the people who are not directly affected by an oppressive system likely have much more energy to address and push back against the unfairness.

        1. Julia*

          Seriously. Can anyone suggest an avenue for all of us to write to or call to report the frustration we have with paratrasit?

          1. Whimsical Gadfly*

            I know people who literally made a full time job of it. And seen little to no change except when it comes from people above them requiring it.

    2. BlueKazoo*

      IME it’s also people feeling like they pay a lot of taxes for stuff to work. So, it’s just a matter of letting people know there’s an issue. Not to mention that there can be a judgment against a city for noncompliance w/ the ADA but that doesn’t mean the issue gets fixed. NYC mass transit is incredibly inaccessible both due to design flaws and poor maintenance. They claim a lack of money to fix the problem. The truth is it’s not a priority. So they continue to pay fines and settle claims rather than fix it.

      1. StrikingFalcon*

        On a hopeful note, the new infrastructure bill has money earmarked specifically for transit station accessibility, thanks to the work of Senator Tammy Duckworth, who uses a wheelchair herself. I’m sure it won’t solve all the problems, but I’m hopeful that it will at least increase the number of accessible stations

      2. Anonymous Bosch*

        I haven’t live in NY in years, but keep in mind that the subway system is ancient, as in over 100 years old. While I’m sure they could do a better job with elevators and the like, there are also areas not served by subways. That means that a disabled person may have to get around on the street in inclement weather to get to a bus stop.

        That’s why I think that a city the size of NY and located in an area of the country that frequently has bad weather should have ample paratransit/Dial A Ride options. I have no idea if they do or not, but I think it would make much more sense than to try to make mass transit work well for the disabled. I would not want to try to get on a subway during rush hour if I were not steady on my feet or even in a wheel chair.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Agreed, I totally get it. You only have so much time / energy, and you’d rather not tilt at windmills.

      Sorry about the weirdness at work, and I hope that as they get to know you better, they stop being so ignorant. Again, that’s not a you problem.

      All in all, this is a pretty satisfying update. You’ve done what you can to control your fate (eg, align schedules), and are recognizing places where you can let go emotionally (eg paratransit and ignorant coworkers). Best of luck in continuing all this!

    4. A Wall*

      Fully agreed with this. I have said before, I don’t mind being disabled, but I mind how I get treated as a disabled person, and what I mind the most is that the entire experience is completely not believed by abled folks. Every time you mention how something or another is messed up for us, you get them credulously going “Well that’s not right! You should complain and then it would be totally fixed and you’ll not encounter it again everywhere always forever!” and it’s like, no, that’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works.

      I like this update because, well for one, the LW is doing better, but also because I hope it will give folks who don’t otherwise have a window into the disabled experience some better perspective.

      1. Nightengale*

        There isn’t always even a clear complaint process. I’m disabled and have been doing disability advocacy in one way or another for two decades. And I’m a doctor who specializes in the care of disabled children. So I should have all the know-how and privilege when trying to get stuff addressed.

        There are accessibility issues at my current hospital system, especially with websites and tech but also some physical ones. And I can’t even figure out who to bring them up to, I have spent 2 years with e-mails going unanswered and bucks getting passed. But I do get 3-4 e-mails a week telling me how important DEI is!

        1. A Wall*

          Right! In most cases the process is ???. In cases where the thing is actually definitely illegal, the process is that a person affected (and typically only a person affected) can hire a lawyer and sue over it, +/- a period in between where they must first file a complaint with a government office who then determines whether they can file the lawsuit while also telling the party they’re complaining about their name and identity. Which, unsurprisingly, is not an effective enforcement mechanism for literally anything.

      2. Alice*

        Right? I recently left a job due to pretty clear illegal discrimination against me as a disabled person. But to do anything legally, I would have to go through the internal process and then start an employment tribunal, all within three months of the discriminatory incident, all while struggling pretty hard with my health. I just quit.

    5. Bamcheeks*

      I read a great thread on Twitter the other day from someone saying that “I hope she sues and wins $XXXXXX” in response to a massively racist incident felt really ugly and dismissive to her. And I think it’s the same thing: it’s a real belief-in-a-just-world fallacy. This bad thing happened! Of course justice will be served and the people who did the bad thing will experience retribution! I feel like this is the same thing— it’s a narrative that suits the comfortable, not the afflicted.

      1. lazuli*

        Yes! Exactly! The just-world fallacy. And it suits the comfortable in large part because it lets the comfortable off the hook for doing anything to fix things — they can just pat themselves on the back and think of themselves as smart and effective for being lucky enough not to have to deal with the problem personally.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Yeah, similarly, a Palestinian friend was telling an American woman about how Israeli settles just razed her village when she was a child. The American woman was saying “but that’s scandalous, you should complain to the embassy” and the Palestinian friend was saying, “er we don’t have an embassy, officially we don’t even exist”.

    6. Still breathing*

      There are two major sport venues near me, both of which draw many users of paratransit, both visitors and employees. Combined they hold over 100,000 guests, not to mention the thousands of employees who keep them running. And if pressure from those venues can’t improve paratransit for their guests or employees, one regular person trying to commute to a boring old desk job isn’t going to have an affect. It’s going to take the entire community to convince “those people” that their riders have time sensitive lives just like everyone else and deserve some respect.

  2. Pam Adams*

    And of course, this tends to just put more work and expectations onto already marginalized people

    Exactly! And after all, nothing is stopping the temporarily able-bodied from making their own push to improve paratransit!

    1. quill*

      The work of fixing broken systems is immense. It’s one of the reasons they stay broken, but that’s not on OP to crusade for, or any one person.

    2. Mike*

      I work in the transit industry. Paratransit is, in most cases, a very bad service. You need to call days in advance, and you get vague windows as to when they’ll arrive for pickup. We live in a world where Uber can pick you up in 10 minutes if you live in/near a city. Paratransit is not much more than Uber/Lyft, reserved for people who need it. There are new algorithm-based services that optimize trips to ensure less time is being wasted en route, rather than being scheduled by people with a pen and paper in an office.

      1. A Wall*

        The best part is, rideshares like Uber & Lyft as well as regular old yellow cabs can be next to impossible to use if you have a wheelchair because drivers will fully just see that you have to chair and keep on driving and not pick you up. It’s a huge problem nationwide. I’ve sat there in my wheelchair and watched cab after cab zip off and refuse to pick me up once they saw the chair, and you just have to keep calling for new ones until you get one that will actually stop. I’ve heard the same story from tons of other people over the years. So abled getting picked up anywhere in an Uber in 10 min is yet one more thing that is not actually available to a lot of disabled people because of rampant discrimination. Add it to the list.

        And yeah, it’s technically illegal, folks love to point out when you tell them the story. Like sure, it is, ok, but the law didn’t show up in a car and pick me up and take me where I needed to go when that last cab driver didn’t. There could be a way to report this and enforcement mechanisms that would keep it from happening so much, but there aren’t. Paratransit exists for a reason, but it’s also a nightmare in every city I’ve ever lived in. It too could be organized in such a way as to be actually useful for the people who rely on it, but it isn’t. The day to day reality of the hurdles in front of disabled people are all stupid, could all be fixed, and are typically also illegal, but here we are.

        1. Kit*

          Like the wheelchair storage space on planes being used to store the airline staff’s miscellaneous belongings, the rideshare services’ failure to handle people with chairs is well-known and well-trod to the point of tedium on disability Twitter, and yet abled people continue to be amazed and appalled that there being a law doesn’t actually fix the problem.

          Incidentally? “the law didn’t show up in a car and pick me up and take me where I needed to go” is brilliantly put!

          1. A Wall*

            The whiplash I get going from spaces online where disabled people are talking amongst each other and everywhere else is astounding. It would be an exaggeration to say I see a “cabs won’t pick me up” or an “airline broke my chair” story every single day, but only slightly. Then I turn around and there’s 50 people who do not have any experience with disability saying, in some way or another, “nuh-uh!” Or perhaps, “you should DO something about that!”

            And thank you, I was particularly proud of that one haha

            1. Anonny*

              And if you do try to do something about it, a bunch of people will come and whine at you for ‘jeopardising people’s livelihoods’. I’ve seen a couple of cases where people have had to lock their twitter because of that.

            2. Imaginary Friend*

              I remember a few years back, reading about professional musicians’ experiences with airlines breaking their instruments – to the point where someone (I think they played a cello or string bass) just bought seats for their instrument. And then, of course, they were once told they couldn’t use the seat that way, were promised that the instrument would be fine… and it arrived with the neck broken. There were a few different stories over a few weeks in whatever paper it was. I wish some newspaper would pick up the “crappy paratransit” issue in the same way.

          2. Saraquill*

            On a related note, I’ve mentioned how my teachers kept refusing to honor my ADA given rights, even with my lawyer mom advocating for me.

            An abled person wanted to know why we didn’t sue. Not only are suits expensive, I’d have graduated before the case would have gotten anywhere.

            1. Finland*

              My mom is disabled and she sued her school. She had to drop out because she literally couldn’t access the classes (the buildings had no elevators, and doorways were routinely blocked). The suit ruled in her favor, but the school hasn’t fixed any of the problems that led to the lawsuit in the first place.

          3. a tester, not a developer*

            I always find that incredulity amusing – there’s laws against murder and tax evasion, and yet both happen every day. Why would anyone think that accessibility laws would be any different?

        2. Lady Lia*

          I wonder is there’s a market for an Uber-like service dedicated to the disabled? Given the cost of a wheelchair accessible van, I imagine it wouldn’t be cheap, but it seems the current options suck. Also, I wonder how big the market would have to be for such a service to be viable. Just wondering aloud…

    3. PersephoneUnderground*

      I suppose there is one thing- ignorance of the issue, since they’re not users of the service themselves.

      Now that I think about it, telling a bunch of people on the internet about this *was* OP taking action- because now those of us who read her letter and said “that’s not right” can go find out if this is a problem where we live and do something about it if it is. I know I’m going to be paying more attention when my local government handles transportation issues to make sure our local para-transit is handled well and not short-changed.

      So thanks for writing this and telling us about it OP.

  3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    I am so glad that you feel empowered to NOT fight the system on behalf of Disabled People Everywhere. And I hope that everyone who is disappointed that you didn’t Rise To The Challenge And Fight The Man takes a moment to express that disappointment by reaching out to their local transportation system and sending a note of support that emphasizes how a truly functional system that supports people with disabilities will also support the currently abled as well.

    I love this update.

    1. Anhaga*

      “And I hope that everyone who is disappointed that you didn’t Rise To The Challenge And Fight The Man takes a moment to express that disappointment by reaching out to their local transportation system”

      We can always hope! Putting the burden on disabled people to have to advocate for their access to things that others without the same disability don’t have to think about is just cruddy. It takes so much energy–mental if not physical–just to deal with the everyday barriers that having the energy to *also* push back and try to change the system is going to be harder than many people think.

  4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with so much crap that has NOTHING to do with the skills and abilities you bring to your actual work! Please know that I, a fellow wheelchair user, am rooting for you to find a situation that allows you to be your best self on the job without worrying about how you’re going to get home.

  5. Janet*

    I guess it’s similar everywhere, paratransit can be unreliable. When we were in the office, one of our coworkers used that service, his dropoff/pickup wasn’t always timely. There are a lot of reasons for that, I suspect funding for vehicle maintenance and lack of substitute drivers.
    I’m glad your management isn’t complaining about arrival time.

  6. LadyJ*

    It has been my experience as a disabled person that it takes multiple complaints to get something done and if they do like one agency I know of that categorizes them so that on paper so to speak they don’t have any real issues.

  7. Feral Campsite Raccoon*

    “I think that when you see someone in a situation that isn’t right it can be easy/tempting to think that calling on some higher authority will fix it, but too often I think that isn’t the case. And of course, this tends to just put more work and expectations onto already marginalized people.”
    You said that beautifully.

  8. LearnedSomethingToday*

    I honestly love this update. I really appreciate the insight into both your mindset shift and observations about what behaviors and systems at your workplace are particularly grading and/or problematic. I think the ladder in particular was a helpful reminder for things that I, as an abled person, don’t keep top of mind. Inclusivity is really important to me, so I am taking notes!

    1. hayling*

      I also loved it too! Yes it wasn’t from a “juicy” post, but the LW was able to shift their mindset and see the situation in a different light. That’s so powerful!

  9. Trawna*

    Okay, rhetorical-ish question — so how on earth did a public-facing non-ADA-compliant building get designed, get building permits, get built, and get commissioned?!

    I am aghast.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It might be technically ADA-compliant but still missing that accessibility in meaningful ways — for instance, there’s an inconvenient ramp, the aisles between desks aren’t wide enough for a chair, things are stored higher/out of reach, etc. There are plenty of ways you can comply with the letter of the law and not the spirit of accessibility.

      1. BlueKazoo*

        This. And also, the fact that a building passed inspection when it was designed doesn’t mean people aren’t using it in a way that makes it functionally inaccessible. Is the copier at an accessible level? What about the coffee maker? Did someone put the water cooler where it makes it impossible for a wheelchair to turn around in that hall? In other words, it’s about a lot more than just accessible bathrooms and wheelchair ramps.

        1. Grumpy Old Sailor*

          I’m guessing this is an area where things fall through the cracks, since where a copier is going to be, or desks, etc. isn’t something that’s going to be on the building plans when they’re filed by the contractor. And it’s not as if contractors have NEVER fudged what’s actually built compared with what the plans say was built. I mind me of a municipal building that for quite a few years didn’t have a wheelchair ramp, even though the city claimed it did have one because it was there on the plans. It eventually went to court and it turned out the subcontractor for foundation & other concrete work just quietly neglected to do that part, and by some odd chance the inspector who signed off on it had relatives employed by that subcontractor. The only good note was that when someone finally had the 25W bulb go on, took the plans outside and actually LOOKED and saw there was no ramp, the city got on it pretty briskly (for government values of ‘briskly’).

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            The sheer incompetence as demonstrated by “when someone finally had the 25W bulb go on, took the plans outside and actually LOOKED and saw there was no ramp”…

      1. Starbuck*

        Right, but the letter writer is describing a public building that went into effect AFTER the ADA was passed. Which seems like it shouldn’t be possible, but there are so many blogs and other social media posts out there that show it is happening. It’s just another example of laws being meaningless really if there isn’t funding for compliance or enforcement attached, or if “accessible” isn’t specifically defined e.g. written into building codes.

        1. Bernice Clifton*

          The building might have been built before 1990 – I worked in a government building that was. The front doors were handicapped accessible, but not all of the department office doors were, sadly.

          1. Velawciraptor*

            I regularly work in a courthouse that was built this century. When someone from the DA’s office tried to point out that the building wasn’t accessible back when the building was being built, the county tried to kick the DA’s office out of the courthouse. Only let them back in when it was pointed out that the county is legally obligated to provide office space for the DAs.

            And while the longest, most windy ramp I’ve ever seen was slapped on the building, there have been accessibility problems up into this year.

            My office moved buildings and I had to throw an everloving fit when the landlord (which didn’t have all updates to the office done when we moved in) blocked off our only elevator with zero warning to refinish a floor. Fortunately, we were still largely teleworking and our employees with the biggest mobility issues weren’t in the office, but if we’d had clients who needed access to us that day, it would have been a big problem.

            It’s preposterous that these fights still have to happen, but they do.

          2. OP*

            Bernice, I think Starbuck was going off my my saying it was built long-post-ADA. And indeed, it is less than 10 years old.

    2. Dino*

      ADA really only works if you sue inaccessible buildings/services/etc, then you have legal backing. There is no ADA enforcement agency.

    3. Pikachu*

      I didn’t read this as a construction issue, but more like movable temporary things were in inconvenient places simply because people put them there that way. Printers out of reach, furniture/shelves crammed in small areas that restrict movement, that kind of thing. But I could be wrong.

    4. OP*

      Much of it comes down to things being set up to be accessible for the public but not so much for employees. For instance, I’ve missed out on several jobs because it’s set up so that employees stand behind a tall front desk (which is sometimes built into the space, not something that can be moved) and so if you can’t reach the phone/computer on top of it (and from my chair, I can’t) then you can’t do the work.

      There is something like that at this job though we were able to work around it. I think everything is technically ADA-compliant, but the inaccessibility comes through in small ways–a combo of semi-moveable things (so, not part of the building plans, but not easily moved/adapted either) and stuff that’s just not laid out in a way that really works in a wheelchair (really tight turns, for instance) that probably seems fine on paper/to non-wheelchair users.

      1. Dramatic Intent to Flounce*

        Yeah, most able-bodied people simply don’t think about how things need to work for wheelchair users until they or someone they directly know needs to deal with an inaccessible building design. It’s not usually malicious, just not thinking.

        (Not exempting myself here as an ambulatory disabled person – I was vaguely aware of inaccessible design issues before my mother broke her foot and was non-weightbearing for months a few years back, but knowing what inaccessible design generally looks like and watching her have to deal with bathroom stall doors that open inward were two very different things.)

      2. Llellayena*

        Architect here: if I had a nickel for each of the times I’ve told a client/interior designer “no you can’t put a couch there because that’s the clear approach to the door”…let’s just say my house hunt would be looking in pricier areas. And I’ve designed assisted living facilities…

    5. Retired Prof*

      Here’s an example. I worked in an ADA compliant building with a federal agency upstairs. On 9-11 our building was locked down because there was no way to make the federal offices secure otherwise – even though we had classrooms in the building. We had to meet our students at the front door and let them into the building. The federal solution was to enclose and lock the elevator access. I protested that meant that our dept. office on the second floor was now not accessible to disabled students. So they put in a phone at the front door that rang in an upstairs office. If someone who needed the elevator came in – delivery people as well as disabled – they called upstairs and someone had to come down in the elevator to open the locked elevator vestibule door. Really jerry-rigged but that was the solution, and at least they unlocked the front door so students could come into our part of the building.

      . Then one day my student using a wheelchair got escorted up to our department office on the second floor just before 5pm. Somehow he got left alone up there, locked out of the elevator access while everyone went home. He sat there a couple hours before the cleaning crew found him and let him into the elevator. I was livid, but the federal agency refused to change anything and it is still that way today.

    6. Kella*

      You would be surprised by how many buildings are still being built every day that are not ADA compliant, not to mention the hundreds of buildings that were never updated to begin with. And I’m not just talking about “historic” buildings either. Think about how many buildings you go to that have multiple floors but no elevator. Or buildings that have several steps to get to the entrance but no ramp. A really useful exercise someone taught me for understanding the scope of inaccessibility is to imagine that every time you have to climb a single step, you have to pay a dollar. At my apartment building, I’d have to pay $10 every time i come home and every time I leave the house. And that’s not even getting into ramps that are unsafe or unuseable, or elevators that are broken and no priority is put on fixing them etc.

  10. Mac*

    Thank you for sharing this update! My fiancé uses a wheelchair and is embarking on his next career chapter after retiring from Paralympic sport. He has his own car, so transportation is fortunately not an obstacle for him. However, he has never been that excited about office work (and we’ve had many a conversation about how “office work” can mean a ton of different things, and there are plenty of rewarding office jobs). But there are MANY other career paths he has considered — real estate agent, interior designer, dentist, police officer, even ski coach (his Paralympic sport) — that are quite inaccessible to a wheelchair user in practice (can’t access a house with stairs, can’t stand over a patient so the dentist chair / entire office space would need to be adapted, most police activities require mobility, and ski coaches — contrary to athletes — are responsible for setting courses and gates, and carrying loads of equipment up and down a ski hill). Some of those things aren’t dealbreakers, and he could find a way to adapt or contribute in different ways — but it just brings to light the many, many obstacles that people with mobility challenges face and how many careers are simply not designed to be accessible. And going full-steam into a new career with that uncertainty is so hard. And then, even for office jobs, you see inaccessible doors/entryways, no elevators or out-of-order elevators, office supplies and office kitchen items stored in high-up shelves, business travel challenges, and general attitudes around disability that make everyday work challenging. If anyone has resources to peruse, I’d love to collect some!

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      So, this will not be a great response because I worked for an organization that primarily served disabled children, not adults – but hopefully it will give you a few ideas.
      If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend reaching out to any former Paralympians that your husband may know and who have similar disabilities to see what kind of work they are doing. (Even just looking up people on LinkedIn may give him ideas.)
      There are organizations that specialize in job training or placement for adults with disabilities, so it’s worth doing some searching to see what is available in your area. Even if your husband doesn’t end up using their services, he may still be able to get a sense of the kind of jobs that are available. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions! If you wind up contacting an organization that doesn’t provide the service you need, they get these types of question all the time, so they may be able to refer you to one that can help you. Good luck!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Sorry, my final sentences got a bit garbled. I should have said: don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.

  11. ecnaseener*

    Hey, you’re doing great. You don’t need to live an ~inspiring story~ for the commentariat’s entertainment, goodness knows people expect that from disabled people enough already.

  12. CatPerson*

    Great to hear from you. I have one comment about your statement “When I was hired, someone mentioned that the place had never hired a wheelchair user before, and, uh… I can tell. ”

    It seems to me that since wheelchair users are relatively uncommon, it’s completely reasonable that a workplace that never had one before would not be set up for that. Why would they? The key thing is whether they tried hard to figure out your needs and make it possible for you to do your job. Some companies, especially large ones, are probably pretty good at this. Others might need a lot of help from you to figure out what to do. As long as there is cooperation and communication and mutual respect and understanding, things can go well.

    Best wishes to you.

    1. Tired SW*

      I’m going to try to say this gently. Your comment feels very much like tone-policing toward OP. It’s absolutely understandable and reasonable that she’s frustrated. I’m sure she is very aware that w/c users are a small percentage of the general population. OP also doesn’t need folks telling her that more cooperation and communication from her is needed. It’s not her responsibility to hand-hold the company through the process of accommodating her.

      1. quill*

        There is also the fact that there are plenty of resources the company could have looked at to make sure that the building was set up accessibly.

        OP is perfectly justified in being frustrated when the setup of their workspace could have been researched for accessibility, or they could have been asked about the setup as part of the onboarding process, but the attempt was not made.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          yes this! It’s not so much that the place wasn’t accessible, it’s that she wasn’t asked to point out what needs changing. She’s going in needing to be the trouble maker, the whiner, the one that’s never happy.
          I’m not a wheelchair user, but I’m a cyclist. I take part in surveys about cycle lanes and I point out things that are great, and other things that have clearly not been designed by someone who knows anything about how bikes move and how cyclists can navigate obstacles smoothly. I realise that people are asked to design cycle lanes without knowing what cyclists need, and I tell them. But I’m able-bodied and enthusiastic about cycling, so it comes easy to me.
          I don’t think OP was even complaining at that point, just a bit weary because she kind of knew beforehand that the place was not gonna be easy to navigate.

    2. Dino*

      In general, the reason they haven’t had this before has more to do with job discrimination against disabled employees and inaccessible workspaces than simply never having had a “qualified” wheelchair user apply.

    3. Rabbitbanana89*

      On the flip side, how do you expect for a wheelchair user to get & keep a job in a hazardous environment? And it shouldn’t be up to one person to be a company’s teachable moment. They’re not an architect.

    4. OP*

      I realize that things don’t always come off correctly via writing (especially on the internet) but I have to say that this comment comes across as incredibly condescending.

      I’m am well aware that some workplaces have not had a wheelchair-using employee before and thus have not had to make physical adjustments for one–that’s one of the things I named among reasons why it was obvious to me that there hasn’t been a wheelchair-using worker there before! I’m not really clear about what you’re disagreeing with there.

      1. OP*

        Coming back to add: CatPerson, your comment is especially concerning to me because you presumably know (having quoted the line right next to it) that these are public spaces in a public building. Part of being a public servant is putting up with a whole lot of s*** from members of the public. I knew that going in, and I accept that as part of my job. The reality is that plenty of the people I help are not friendly or respectful, and I still help them because these are public services and are open to everyone (barring some really egregious behaviors). So why must wheelchair users, who already have lesser access to these services than other people, be the only ones who need to show cooperation/respect/communication in order to deserve them?

        Seven days a week, several hundreds of members of the public come through this space and while yes, wheelchair users are a small portion of the population, if the number who came through was actually consistent with their portion of the population there would be a lot more of them. And I guess that gets to another part of the issue with your argument: if you only bother setting up a space for a people who are already in it, then you’ll keep on excluding the same people who still can’t get in in the first place!

        1. Botanist*

          “If you only bother setting up a space for people who are already in it, then you’ll keep on excluding the same people who still can’t get in in the first place.” Bam. Solid gold right there.

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      If someone hasn’t used a wheelchair themselves, it’s easy to be unaware of the exclusionary physical spaces and policies that discriminate against people who use wheelchairs. Speaking for myself, it wasn’t until I worked at a disability rights organization that I learned how widespread the problem is. In response to your question about “why would they,” it’s because those spaces aren’t welcoming in the first place despite legal requirements. There are lots of wheelchair users that go unseen in some spaces because structures are inaccessible. My experience reshaped my perspective to watch for the kinds of barriers that unfortunately are common for people with disabilities, including the ones that aren’t physical–attitudes, stereotypes, and lack of awareness. I now actively am committed to removing ALL of them.

    6. A Wall*

      Hey CatPerson, I think you can perhaps understand why this is a bad comment to leave if you think of the answer to the questions: Why did I feel like I needed to say this thing in this situation to this person at this time? The LW said that they are the first wheelchair user there and because of that, they are starting from scratch. You took this as an unfairly negative comment on the company, and felt the need to correct the LW’s feelings about having to design an accessible workspace from scratch. Why is that? The explanation you land on should be illuminating to you.

      Also, on a factual point, wheelchair users are not uncommon. What are uncommon are spaces and transportation that are accessible to them. The reason you do not see more wheelchair users on a day to day basis is because they are so frequently shut off from being able to access the places you are in.

      1. INFJedi*

        Also, on a factual point, wheelchair users are not uncommon. What are uncommon are spaces and transportation that are accessible to them. The reason you do not see more wheelchair users on a day to day basis is because they are so frequently shut off from being able to access the places you are in.

        This is so on point!

        1. La Triviata*

          The ADA may be complied with in theory, but the practice is often another thing. Our local transit system proudly announces that they’re accessible. Except when they’re not. In the subway system, the elevators are often out of order, even though the system’s website often does not let people know. Several years ago, a wheelchair user was trying to get to an event. According to the system – both website and recordings – all the elevators in the area were working. In fact, none of them were. The man was so frustrated, that he started swearing loudly … and was ticketed for being disruptive.

          Once I was on a bus – which was accessible – and a man in a motorized wheelchair said he had to tell the dispatchers that he needed a specific type of bus, since his chair was too heavy for some models of bus. He said he often had to wait while they dispatched multiple buses until they sent one he could use. On that same trip, a woman was screaming at him that she’d be late for an appointment because the bus driver had to get the man on the bus and secured. sigh … people ….

    7. CatPerson*

      I am rather baffled that no one who posted on my comment understood that I was saying that the key thing is whether they cooperated with you and tried to understand your needs insofar as your work is concerned. That means that understanding has been reached and progress is being made. But if that’s not what you’re after, I don’t know what else to say.

      1. Fushi*

        Why are you so focused on this idea that disabled folks should be pleased/grateful when someone does the bare minimum to allow us to participate in society? Try replacing disability with any other kind of marginalization (“It’s the tech industry so of course they’ve never had any women before, but at least they’re *trying* not to sexually harass you and are theoretically open to your arguments about equal pay!”) and you’ll see why it’s pretty condescending to take issue with someone’s understandable frustration over having to be the catalyst for obviously necessary changes all the time forever.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          To be fair, Catperson didn’t tell OP to be grateful. Please let’s not pile on any more!

      2. Dino*

        Please research Universal Design and the social model of disability. It shouldn’t be on individual disabled people to reach an agreement with willing employers, educational institutions, medical facilities, legal systems, housing buildings, transit systems, websites, movie theaters, etc, etc to accommodate us. Most of them refuse to accommodate us, because it costs money or involves waiting 15 seconds for a verbal response or mean reorganizing then entire communication system and workplace to truly make it equally accessible to us.

        All spaces should be accessible to everyone by design, from the outset.

      3. A Wall*

        We’re informing you that it is not, in fact, the key thing. You can believe us or not as you so choose but that doesn’t make you right. It is however ironically funny that your definition of progress is someone trying to understand disabled people’s needs when they communicate them, but as we’re trying to communicate them to you here, you are not actually trying to understand us.

      4. pancakes*

        It’s abundantly clear from the letter that the letter writer’s employer hasn’t done a good job of that.

    8. Pissed off disabled woman*

      What do you mean wheelchair users are relatively uncommon?!

      Disabled are at least 10% of the US population.

      And, the abelism in your comment is why the disabled are so often under employed.

      We can do the work easily but abelism and discrimination stop it.

  13. Retired (but not really)*

    Interesting note of agreement on needing multiples to get anything done regarding disability access. It took having two (!) deacons with disabled family members for our church to redesign the restrooms properly. The second time they finally had one of the disabled people show them exactly what kind of spacing she needed in order to be able to actually maneuver her wheelchair, reach everything, etc. Previously they had just installed handrails without enlarging the stall! Granted she had been more mobile initially, but that was such a token solution and didn’t take into account that there might also be visitors or others who would need better access.
    It also took the other person (a child) falling out of his wheelchair getting into the social hall (two steps down) for a ramp to be installed there.
    The prevailing attitude of the powers that be at that time seemed to be it’s only one person with a problem so they can just figure something out.
    Fortunately the attitude seems to be getting a lot more focused on inclusion as the younger generation becomes more involved in leadership. We can only hope that this is true on a much broader scale everywhere.
    And OP I truly hope there develops a much better transportation solution for you! And more of the “little things” becoming easier for you as well.

    1. Trillian*

      I hope the younger generation of leaders does occasionally consult the older generation. And parents. Transit accessibility where I live seems to assume users are either in wheelchairs or scooters or are fully mobile. The main transit stations have elevators and accessible toilets and wide doorways, but they sprawl. Some transfers include walks of 200 m+ (because they cannot conceive of a closed circle—going from stop A to H involves going past all the other stops), along standard concrete paving that’s slippery when icy (like 4 months of the year). I see very few users with canes and walkers on the main routes. Not to mention strollers. They all take the local buses.

      Likewise at work, documents designed to accommodate usability software, but totally blank expressions from the design crew when I pointed out that in the printed out version with the standard formatting, footnotes of tables are 6 pt type.

  14. OP*

    There are a lot of lovely comments here and I don’t really have the time and energy to respond to each of them so here’s one post to let you all know that I’m sending virtual hugs to each of you (if you want them).

    I’m also glad to see that this has raised some folks’ awareness of paratransit issues.

    And to my fellow disabled people, love and solidarity as always.

    Thanks everyone!

    1. Maltypass*

      All the love to you OP – hope things continue to improve. If anyone understands not having the time and energy it’s your disabled community x

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      All the love to you too, and as a fellow disabled person I’m 100% there with you in the ‘I don’t have the energy or will to fight this after a day spent struggling to just do normal stuff’ stakes.

      Being left out alone, in the cold, with the sense of being abandoned is unfortunately an experience I’ve had with para transit (dial a ride here in the UK). It’s hard to explain to able bodied people why buildings not accessible for us, personal questions, having to rely on other people for some services, not having our transport show up (I’ve heard ‘just get an Uber then!’ Sigh) can all combine to make us feel like we only exist by their generosity.

      Which sucks. And isn’t true – we’re worth just as much.

      1. littlehope (formerly Blue, there were two of us)*

        Being disabled is several full-time jobs; dealing with your own health problems and fighting constantly for accommodations, plus wrangling abled people who struggle to cope with the fact that you exist, on top of just going about the business of living like everyone else. Sometimes it’s just not worth embarking on something that you already know is going to be a losing battle.
        And the constant message that any sort of acknowledgement that you exist and need the same things as abled people – access to public buildings, transport – is an enormous favour people are doing you out of the kindness of their hearts, and you should be grateful…it’s exhausting. No one considers that the right to enter a public building is an act of kindness and generosity, and therefore can’t be expected to actually be functional, when it’s abled people using it!
        OP, you’ve put this really well, and I’m glad you updated.

  15. Adultiest Adult*

    Thank you for your update, OP. As a person, now in a management role, who also cannot drive due to disabilities, I can deeply feel the worries about not being seen as as dependable or as capable as others. Fortunately I have always worked with and for people whose attitudes have been, “I don’t need you to drive, we’ll work around it and that’s not what you’re here to do.” Thank you for opening up this conversation and providing a whole bunch of people education about the paratransit system while doing it. I wish you the best. I also wish you a manager who will solidly shut down anyone who makes an offensive or ignorant comment about disabilities to you! (Gives self a reminder to always be that kind of manager.)

  16. raida7*

    I feel like you should still note the issues with paratransit and make at least one complaint.
    Complaint rates are the kind of thing that get seen at a higher level, and are used as justifications for investing in improvements.
    So it’s not just about “Well if you don’t complain your service won’t get better” it’s about “If you increase the number of complaints overall you increase the likelihood that action will be taken in the future to address issues” from a very dry data analytics perspective.
    Also – if the complaints process itself sucks, that’s something that I’d suggest contacting local politicians/councillors about – when it’ll only make them look good to respond you’ve got a better chance that someone jumps onto “The citizens that rely on paratransit should not be silenced via cumbersome feedback processes! It is such a simple thing to get right and I will bla bla blah…”

    1. Jacey*

      Please take the OP at their word that this is not a possibility for them. Perhaps you could go through the system and make a complaint yourself? (That’s a non-snarky suggestion, by the way!)

      1. Nanani*

        Catch-22 though – if you aren’t a user of paratransit they won’t take your complaints. If you are in OP’s situation, well, OP has already explained. Maybe if you’re an able-bodied relative, or boss of a paratransit user who can make complaints about how it affects your business or something..?

        YMMV but there are very few people at just the right intersection of “being taken seriously” and “having an entry point to get their complaints into”. Which is just so convenient for bad service providers isn’t it.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Speaking as a disabled person – that kind of activism can take more energy than we have. When you’re already worn down from the simple process of moving your body from one location to another there’s not a lot left.

      And when we do complain there’s the risk of ‘look at these whiny people, they’re so ungrateful for the accommodations we provide’ response. Believe me.

      1. littlehope (formerly Blue, there were two of us)*

        Seriously, as an abled person, the complaint would have far more weight coming from you! Disabled people are not listened to when we try to point out that the systems that are supposed to help us don’t work – we’re considered automatically unreliable, and we just don’t matter very much.
        If you’re reading this and thinking “that’s not right, someone should fix that-” we’ve tried. Seriously, please, you have a go.

    3. Kella*

      I think you are assuming that if these problems exist that means disabled people haven’t already been complaining. They have. For years. But societal attitudes prevail that because these issues “exclusively” affect disabled people, that means they aren’t big enough to address.

      Also, *you* can submit complaints and *you* can contact your local politicians about this which is almost definitely a widespread issue. If you don’t know the details, I’m sure you can search for your local disability activism group and ask how you can help. As long as only disabled people are fighting these problems, we are unlikely to get them fixed, since it is largely abled people making the decisions.

  17. Fikly*

    As someone who is disabled, in multiple ways, the conclusion I have come to is that for me, one of the hardest things about being disabled is that it’s the invisble minority. The vast majority of the time, if someone lists minorities, either by category, or in an acronym, or in a job posts where they want to mention types of people they want to hire, disability is never mentioned. We’re not even an afterthought. We aren’t a thought to begin with. And that just blows.

    1. Jacey*

      Word. I’ve been in so many groups focused on equity, inclusion, and diversity who just straight up forget about disabilities.

    2. Kella*

      Yup. When I join a new facebook group that lists their discrimination policy, I’ve taken to saying that yes I agree to follow it and also would they consider adding physical or mental ability to their list of protections? Because those two are never on the list.

  18. KittenLittle*

    Random question: Is there a way we can support the disabled community, advocate for universal design for businesses and housing, etc.? People don’t realize everyone will have a disability if they live long enough.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      A good starting pount: see if there is a local advocacy organization for people with disabilities serving your area (search for your state/area name plus disability advocacy) and get on their email list or social media.
      When I worked for an organization that supported disabled children and their families, there was an entire section of our newsletter with opportunities for public comment. Many of these just involve filling in a form to provide comment, but some involve attending meetings etc.

      1. Kella*

        Seconding this. Local advocacy groups will definitely have information about ways you can get involved and help the efforts they’ve been working on for years. You don’t have to start from scratch.

    2. lazuli*

      ACLU fights for disability rights: https://www.aclu.org/issues/disability-rights
      Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund: https://dredf.org/

      As The Prettiest Curse said, local groups (in California, it’s often at the state or county level; not sure about other places) generally also exist. My personal advice would be to look for groups led by disabled people themselves, not just family members of disabled people.

    3. Ursula*

      And there’s always keeping an eye out for things you can do in your own life – are you having a house built? Make sure it has no stairs in the entry and has wide hallways (and you will be much happier when you try to move furniture too!) Is your office moving to a new building? Make sure to mention accessibility needs any chance you get to the decision makers.

      Work, church or other community org you attend, your condo board, or a place you volunteer at getting new furniture? New security protocols like badge scanners? Refinishing the parking lot? Getting new carpet? Updating landscaping? Redesigning their website? Updating forms? Changing work from home or sick policy? These are all opportunities to improve accessibility.

    4. Nightengale*

      Specifically at work, ask questions about new (or for that matter, existing set-ups)

      Website/IT processes: is this accessible to people with screen readers? To someone who can’t use a smartphone? To someone who can’t talk on a telephone? Is the video address from the president/training captioned? Is there a transcript? Are there automatically moving pictures on the site that can be an access barrier? Does IT have someone knowledge about accessibility and do other people in IT know how to contact that person?

      Event planning (including events just for employees): Is there an elevator and accessible parking? Do we give accessibility information right at the outset? Is there a contact person listed for access questions? Do we provide slides and other written material ahead of time? Do we have the budget and know how to contract with an ASL interpreter if needed?

      Space: Are there clear signs? Could a person using a wheelchair or walker reach that button needed to get in the door? What if a person can’t sign this form by hand/electronically? Are there non-gender segregated bathrooms where someone can get assistance from a person of a different gender?

      And don’t assume because a building or policy was created post ADA means it is accessible. The entire internet is post ADA and there are a lot of inaccessible things online. Like my hospital’s intranet. . .

  19. AshK434*

    I understand this approach works for this LW and that’s great but I hope for other people the takeaway is NOT just suffer through terrible experiences! It’s such a depressing, lame stance. Yes, advocating for yourself us a lot of work but it can lead to change. I can’t imagine if black people in the 60’s took this stance. We’d still be sitting in the back of the bus.

    1. OP*

      Hmm, I’m not sure I agree with this interpretation on a number of levels!

      The thing with your comparison to the civil rights movement of the 60s is that you’re comparing collective, direct action to a single person filing a formal complaint (I think? I’m not 100% clear on what you think I am not/should be doing here), and those are just two whole different ball games. If anything, I think that the civil rights movement is a testament to the fact that much larger action is needed on these issues. The progress in disability rights so far hasn’t been made through waiting hours on the phone to tell someone my bus was late, it was through direct action groups like ADAPT and others.

      Now, when you refer to suffering through terrible experiences, I’m not sure if you’re referring to paratransit or my workplace. If it’s the latter, please believe me when I say I work hard both at work and in my personal life (I also work in disability advocacy outside of this job) to make this situation/world better for disabled people. And of course you’re entitled to believe that I’m not doing enough (though I would also urge you to believe me and the other disabled people in this thread when we say that being disabled simply makes a lot of things a lot less possible).

      As for lame… I’m a wheelchair user, so of course I’m lame! (but seriously, there’s no need to use that word like that)

    2. Quack Quack No*

      You are fractally wrong. Please read the OP’s generous comments and rethink your stance. As a Black person I know we didn’t join together in the Civil Rights movement in order to be used as a way to scold dispriviledged people.

    3. Kella*

      The takeaway here should be to honestly evaluate what resources you have and what is in your control. There are many aspects of disabled life that require some amount of rolling with the punches, and choosing to do so decreases how stressful the experience is.

      Also, you can be an advocate for disability rights *and* accept suffering you cannot control. You can’t fight injustices 24/7. Even abled, healthy people don’t have the energy to do that. Something I’ve learned as a disabled person is that to care for my body and know my body’s limits is a radical act in today’s society, that encourages me to push and push and push in effort to match the output of abled people. And as an ally to disabled people, one of the best things that you could do for the disability community is to trust individuals to know their own resources and not push them to do more than they say they can do.

    4. mairona*

      I can tell you right now that my disabled husband does not have the emotional energy to Fight the Good Fight. He’s far more likely to shrink away and isolate himself in a corner so he’s not a “burden”. I’ve been fighting that fight for him, and it’s absolutely exhausting. I’ve had some success with my county commissioner on certain things like accessible parking, access to entering businesses in older buildings, and improved curb cutouts, but transportation services are a whole other kettle of fish because of the logistics. As I said in another comment, now that OP has reminded me of that little issue, I’ll probably bring it up with the commissioner, but there are a lot more logistics baked into providing public transportation to such a relatively small section of the population. Being the squeaky wheel can get stuff done for sure but you have to pick your battles, and many people with disabilities are already dealing with so many obstacles to just living their lives that they just can’t take on that fight. That’s why I’ve been fighting on my husband’s behalf because he’s just too exhausted from, well, LIFE, to do it himself.

  20. Barking Mad in the US*

    To anybody who uses public transit and/or paratransit services, it is your absolute responsibility to reach out about issues. Transit agencies have On-Time Performance metrics (in the US) that they meet-both on the fixed route (regular bus system) and paratransit. If the agency is unaware (and many times, paratransit service is contracted by the agency to a 3rd party), we cannot fix the problem. I’m a “C-suite” level director at my agency and this letter still bothers me-a lot! If I don’t know there are issues, then I can’t figure out how to fix them. It’s frustrating from a service delivery provider to be told there are problems via the media but never given the chance to address them. I also understand that there are not necessarily “good” and “efficient” ways to communicate with the transit provider. Dear OP, what you’ve done is to make me pause and to look at how we interact with our community, via our website or social media. I hope that paratransit users rarely have these issues but I do live in the real world. Thank you for this.

    1. Cynara cardonulosity*

      People with disabilities and those who rely on transit are more likely to have much less time and access to do this. One enormous issue in the sector, which I do some work in parallel with, is that the people who work in these agencies don’t rely on these services, let alone use them on any regular basis. Maybe it is your agency that needs to bear the time cost of making sure it is working to serve its users. This is especially true because transit agencies serve so many frontline communities who already have their hands full just trying to get from point A to B When paratransit takes you 6 hours total from wait time to travel to pick up to home, how much more time are you expected to put in to tell a system that is supposed to have been designed with your needs in mind that it barely works?

      1. Cynara cardonulosity*

        It’s so difficult not to get angry when people who are paid to have responsibility tell the users of that system that they have the responsibility for monitoring its performance. Especially when there are so many examples of people communicating these issues only to be met with inaction. I’ll try to avoid commenting like this in the future. Alison.

      2. Ursula*

        Seriously, why don’t they have ‘secret riders’ like stores do ‘secret shoppers’? Or for that matter pay some of their disabled riders to do it! It is not hard to take on the responsibility of making sure your services actually work.

    2. Kella*

      It bothers me that disabled individuals are held responsible for the effective running of a system they have no control over. If the *only* metric you have for measuring the efficacy of your systems is individual complaints from marginalized people, when you admit yourself there is no efficient way for them to do so, then that’s a systemic problem that no amount of disabled people complaining can fix. I truly hope you take this opportunity to create systemic change, to the extent that you have the power to do so.

    3. Koala dreams*

      Yes, I hope you can look into the accessibility of communication, not just the service itself. Too many services only accept written communication, only accept communication from the user in question, or hide the contact info in a discrete corner on the website, just to mention a few examples.

  21. Kella*

    OP, I’m glad you were able to figure out some of the root issues behind your stress.

    While I think Alison is generally good about discussing disability, I did wonder after reading her response to your letter if she was being unreasonably optimistic about people’s attitude toward you and your transit schedule. I was once trying to schedule with a new therapist and I had to say no to several of the times she offered because of transit issues and because I’m not able to get to early appointments (I am also disabled). She actually said she didn’t think we should keep trying to schedule things because she was making a lot of effort to “accommodate my special needs” and it seemed like it just wasn’t working out. To be clear, the “special needs” I had was that I wasn’t available for the appointment times she had offered in the next 2 weeks. I typically have 3-4 other medical appointments a week so scheduling 2 weeks out is almost always going to be difficult. Apparently disabled people having a schedule is an accommodation, now.

    I can definitely relate to having coworkers that aren’t blatantly rude or openly judgemental but there is still an underlying attitude that you feel and can never fully shake. It can be a hard thing to explain to abled people but it’s definitely there.

  22. Koala dreams*

    Unfortunately, the advice to complain comes from bitter experience, and not from obliviousness.

    As for other people complaining, often services only accept communication from the users themselves (and sometimes a spouse). It’s just another face of discrimination.

    To end on a less pessimistic note, I appreciate the advice from other commenters on how to write to politicians. Local politicians are often responsible for infrastructure issues and accept letters from the concerned public.

  23. mairona*

    I feel for you, OP. My husband is a wheelchair user and we’ve looked into paratransit. He’s fortunately only had to use it once (due to the fact that he’s unfortunately unable to work right now) and it was a giant pain in the keister. Accessibility in general has been a struggle these past few years since his accident; it’s so easy to NOT think about accessibility when you don’t need to, after all. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’ve started writing to my county commissioner when I find issues around town as they’ve been allocating money for major infrastructure projects over the past two years or so. I’ve had some success with getting them to prioritize accessibility in one of the areas that needs it most (the public statement they issued specifically listed several points I’d brought up) so maybe I should ping them about paratransit, too. I don’t know how much success I’ll have there since there are a lot more logistical issues to that, but I’ll probably give it a shot anyway now that your letter has reminded me of that particular problem. Worst case, it stays as bad as it is now, so why not?

  24. Danielle K.*

    I’m in MA and our paratransit “The Ride” constantly strand my friends and do the horrible “we may or may not get you there but you’re in for a 3 hour ride with other passengers and inefficient route”

    There’s a pilot program to try to subsidize Lyft rides – but they have no where near enough accessible vehicles for the need.

    I’m friends with the person who literally sued the MBTA for ADA compliance but the Ride doesn’t even care when they strand her!

    The media covers issues – nothing changes!!!

    A friend who uses oxygen stopped being able to use the Ride because her tanks didn’t last long enough!

    All this to say – you’re not alone and I completely understand complaining does nothing.

    I’m disabled too but mine is an invisible disability so I don’t get as many invasive questions but boy do I rage against ableism.

Comments are closed.