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DOJ Won't Investigate Roanoke Inaccessibility

From the Jan. 12 Roanoke Times:

The U.S. Department of Justice has declined to investigate almost all of eight complaints filed last fall against the owners of downtown Roanoke businesses and buildings because of their inaccessibility to the disabled.

But since the eight complaints were sent to the Justice Department in October, most of the businesses named in the complaints have installed a buzzer and a sign out front for disabled people to let employees inside know they need service.

Read story: City Market businesses try to improve accessibility.

Roanoke wheelchair user Robert Eggers, says the story, had filed the DOJ complaints against a number of downtown businesses whose front entrances have what the newspaper called "ledges" -- some 5 inches high -- barring access.

His attorney David Beidler called the installation of the bells a "positive response." County attorney Michael Ferguson said the customers can be served on the sidewalk.


Served on the sidewalk? Degrading. Draws more attention to the disabled customer and reinforces opinions that accommodations are "special" and an additional inconvenience.

Gee - I hope one of these businesses is a clothing store. And I hope that Mr. Eggers goes and tries on some underwear!!! And I hope he brings a news crew with him.

And I hope one of these stores is a restaurant. And that Mr. Eggers decides to take 14 of his favorite friends. And makes them set up and serve all 15 people outside - protects them from the elements (it might rain in Roanoke) and has to carry all that food and drink in and out.

And I wish I could take the time to drive there to visit my brother and join him.

Grrrrr - people like this royally tick me off.

Tell me, Mr County Attorney - do AB's have to ring a bell in order to spend their money in the store? Do they have to give up any dignity in order to be paying customers?

If they treated racial minorities like that, there'd be a huge uproar.

The real outrage for the disabled community ought to rest with the DOJ, and its policies of failed application and enforcement of the almost twenty year old ADA. Through consistent misapplications [including policies and practices of mediation for civil rights] and misinterpretations of "reasonable accommodations" our disabled national community continues to suffer. Advocacy should now direct itself toward remediating the loopholes Congress left with the original 1990 act. We ought to emphasize the involvement of domestic legal interest like the ACLU [which for years has prioritized the activities of Bush administration politics while the disabled community endures DOJ-CRD policy strangleholds] to advance our LEGAL national civil rights cause. Through amendments, Congressional intent should be expressly defined, prioritized, and consistently applied throughout the nation. States should be mandated to establish ADA offices as a function of their respective offices of attorneys general [simular to that in Arizona] to deal specifically with ADA programatic applications and enforcement provisions. The disabled community quickly learned after the ADA DOJ honeymoon, that civil rights protection and enforcement by the DOJ alone was, and remains, a hallucinagenic pipe dream. The DOJ-CRD recognized their own impotency early on, immediately sacrificing disabled minority rights with their routinely misguided programmatic policy interpretations and impotent implementations.

I agree that the DOJ is negligent. However, equal access is equal access, right? I think someone who has no mobility problems...or maybe a LOT of people who have no mobility problems....browse all the merchandise in these stores from the sidewalk.....at the same time. About 30 of them at each business at one time should do it, don't you think?

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