Using the 'Safety' Hook

A little 3-paragraph news story from TV station KAKE in Wichita, KS that I ran across awhile back tells of a lawsuit being filed against the town of Winfield, KS by the Kansas Disability Coalition over inaccessibility -- things the city's never bothered to do to comply with the now almost 16-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act.

But, judging from this April 7 news story, the suit's taking a novel approach: that an inaccessible city simply isn't "safe" for disabled residents.

Here's the story: Lawsuit Claims Town is Unsafe.

According to KAKE's report -- and that's the only news outlet I could find who had done a story on the suit -- Dee Winter and Rebecca McNeish, who have multiple sclerosis, say it's hard to live in Winfield because of its inaccessibility.

Now I don't know who dreamed up the "unsafe" angle -- could be it's just a hook the TV news reporter came up with on the spur of the moment.

But it seems to me it could have real possibilitiies. Sort of a "quality of life" angle. Cities that aren't accessible aren't safe. I'd agree with that -- they're not safe for anyone, disabled or not yet disabled.

Of course this approach could backfire, too, given the public's typical attitudes toward access: I could see nasties telling crips, as Jerry Lewis did, to "stay in your house!" if they think it's so "unsafe" out in the streets.

The story ends with this:

Attorneys for both sides say they don't want this case doesn't go to trial. They hope they can come to an agreement relatively soon and start making the town safe for everyone.

It will be interesting to see if this gets any more media coverage.

May 07, 2006 | Email this story


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