This spring, there have been several articles in the Portland Press Herald dealing with the difficulty people with disabilities face in moving about Portland’s brick sidewalks and streets (“For wheelchair users, navigating Portland’s streets requires patience,” April 13; “Portland seeks better access for people with disabilities,” March 24).
What is more amazing to those of us who are elderly or have some degree of disability is how poor access there is to many buildings, despite Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
Ironically, hospitals and medical buildings seem to be most at fault.
A medical practice in Mercy Primary Care’s office in Falmouth has handicapped parking that is so far removed from the entrance to the building that it may as well be nonexistent. Curbs have no cutouts and are obstacles too high for anyone using crutches, canes or walkers.
Parking at Maine Medical Center’s main hospital is virtually impossible for anyone with mobility limitations.
If one is lucky, an attendant may be available to help with providing a wheelchair – but they are prohibited from actually parking your car unless it is an emergency situation or you have a special need.
Whether one is a patient or a visitor, access to the hospital is extremely limited for those with physical problems.
As newer facilities are designed and built, one can only assume that architects and/or contractors do not consider the elderly and physically and/or visually impaired individuals.
Larger entryways and parking facilities are being designed and constructed with little regard for the needs of the disabled population.
Architects, contractors, city planners and those involved in construction need to spend more time and effort in addressing ADA access regulations.
It would be advisable for those in these occupations to obtain some practical knowledge about providing the handicapped safe access to streets and buildings.