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The key in the lock of the lift

One of those seemingly tiny things comes into my email box, and I find myself thinking more than I should, perhaps, about it:

Activists in California have been dealing with a business owner who apparently is reluctant to leave a key inserted into the lock of a wheelchair lift. The lift is evidently the way one accesses this business -- those facts are unclear. The issue, for this business owner, evidently, is that he worries someone is going to steal the key in the lock of the lift.

A wheelchair user writes, "we are ready to sue, in small claims court, a business owner who refuses to put [the] key in the key slot, turn it on, and leave it in the key slot during business hours, as mandated by California law."

That was interesting to us. A law requires the key be left in the slot?

"Title 24 specifies that lifts must be self operating and open at all times during business hours," writes activist Ruthee Goldkorn.

Noel Neudeck, whose mass emails on disability issues in California are well known to advocates there,sends the citation: California Code of Regulations, Sub Chapter 6. Elevator Safety Orders. Rule Number 3094.2 (r). Sure enough.

(r) The vertical platform (wheelchair) lift may be locked for security reasons but shall remain unlocked during normal business hours.

I think about all this in relation to a blog entry I made last summer, about a friend, a wheelchair user being inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame, who found, when she got to the induction ceremony that the lift was locked, turned off, and the key who-knows-where. She'd felt humiliated, angered, embarrassed.

Goldkorn writes from California that lifts

are to be on during business hours. We do not care about his phobia of the key being stolen!!!!! We care we cannot access the business. Period.

Reading the actual regulation reminds one about the old adage about making laws and sausages -- it's a messy business.

On the one hand the regulation does say -- at the very bottom (as though it were an amendment, which maybe it was) -- that

(r) The vertical platform (wheelchair) lift may be locked for security reasons but shall remain unlocked during normal business hours.

But that comes at the very end. Way up above, at (g), there's a discussion about how the lifts have to also have a "manual lowering device":

The lowering device is for use by others to lower the lift to the lower landing should the lift downward motion become impaired.

This device -- I'll spare you the legalese -- can have a "lockable cover" and that cover must be "kept locked" although "the key shall be available on the premises during normal business hours under the control of an authorized person."

You can see how people become confused by these things.

I wonder what kind of a lift was used at the auditorium in Kentucky? I wonder if Kentucky has such a regulation? I wonder if anybody's ever bothered to check?

One thing you gotta say about those CA access activists: they're generally on top of things.


I just don't understand why businesses cannot be weaned off those damn locking lifts?

Usually the argument for keeping the key separate from the lift is the kids will play with it (the horror!). The other argument is that the potential lift user cannot be trusted to operate the lift him or herself.

It's a miracle that anyone is allowed to get into an elevator and push the button all by herself.


i would expect almost all or all other state statutes or regulations to be much less protective than the ones cited by our CA colleague...........

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