I had to chuckle when I read the letter (“Access for all” Sierra Sun June 14) regarding the lack of accessibility for people in wheelchairs. I seem to remember that I wrote exactly the same type of letter more than fifteen years ago when I was in a wheelchair and was part of the FREED advocacy program. Then we had exactly the same issues: The inaccessible wheelchair ramps at the park, the narrow openings into the stores downtown, the piling of snow in handicap spaces and inaccessible curb cuts, among many other problems that ambulatory people don’t even think about.
I see that not much has been done in the past 15-plus years. It seems that Truckee has said over the years that if you are in a wheelchair, you don’t belong in Truckee. Fortunately, I don’t require a wheelchair now, but I am constantly reminded that when I did, getting around town was quite an adventure ” and not always an enjoyable one.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a good one, however as I understand it, if it is too difficult for a business to comply with the requirements, they are not required to.
To the letter writer, keep trying, in another 15 years you won’t have to chuckle when you read the same type of letter.
I’d like to follow-up the letter to the editor (“Access for all” Sierra Sun June 14) regarding wheelchair access. The absence of curb-cuts and inadequate maintenance of curb-cuts and sidewalks can be more than a matter of inconvenience for wheelchair users. As my family and I found out last fall, it can be a matter of life and death.
On Nov. 4, 2005, my youngest sister Elizabeth was killed while crossing a street in her wheelchair near her home in St. Louis, Missouri. She had used a wheelchair since surgery for a childhood brain tumor compromised her balance and coordination. She was crossing the street because the sidewalk on her side was poorly maintained and impassable in a wheelchair; the sidewalk on the other side was marginally better. She had to cross a short distance from a corner because there was no curb-cut provided at the corner. Even though she had the green light and was crossing a broad, flat, lightly traveled street, as she approached the driveway-cut on the far side of the street, she was struck and killed by an SUV. The driver said he “never saw her.”
I didn’t find it surprising that in a somewhat worse-for-wear urban neighborhood in St. Louis, a sidewalk would be poorly maintained or that curb-cuts weren’t provided on every corner. It’s astonishing that in Truckee, a new athletic facility isn’t completely accessible and that older facilities haven’t been brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It has, after all, been the law of the land since 1990. I’m even more troubled by the letter writer’s observation that curb-cuts in downtown Truckee are inaccessible for weeks at a time. That’s simply unacceptable in a community such as ours.
I’m grateful for the Sierra Sun’s article (“A tough road” Sierra Sun June 9) on this subject, the letter writer’s compelling, reasoned and detailed letter to the editor and also for the letter (“Look forward to the day” Sierra Sun June 12) last week. This is an important issue; we can clearly do better and we must.
As my family found out, providing and maintaining the facilities and features that provide access for people with disabilities isn’t simply a matter of preventing inconvenience, it may be a matter of life and death.
My name is Mariah Dixon-Davies. I am currently a fifth-grade student at Truckee Elementary school. I am writing this so the Town of Truckee can recognize Mrs. Jean Unger.
Mrs. Unger was my student teacher for about three and a half months. In the time she was my teacher, I felt like I excelled greatly. Mrs. Unger used to work in the Smithsonian, and she was very interested in our field trip to the Challenger Learning Center. This field trip is a space simulation. She prepared us for the field trip by bringing in posters she received when she worked in the Smithsonian.
Mrs. Unger made mine and my class mates time in fifth grade a fun and great experience. If you ever get Mrs. Unger as a teacher, you are so lucky!