Disabled people are systemically abused, denied access, and misrepresented across the United States, and laws related to us are often ignored or are not enforced. While such problems of access and equity are often far worse in other countries, such is not an acceptable excuse.
Case in point:
While visiting Austin, Texas, on February 7-10, 2019, I needed a Chick-fil-A fix. The closest Chick-fil-A was the North Mopac and Parmer Lane FSU location. The first thing I noticed was that they had both
handicaped (I hate that word) disabled spaces completely blocked off. They have the spaces blocked off to allow more room for and to prioritize cars using the drive-thru. With both rows of cones, which began on the other side of the building, parking in (or getting out of) one of the disabled spaces would have been absolutely impossible.
After researching Texas’s law (based on the Americans with Disabilities Act) on the issue, I learned that not only is this a violation, the location of its spaces is illegal: Disabled spaces are supposed to be the absolute closest spaces to a main entrance. As these photos clearly show, these two (inaccessible) spaces are almost furthest away from the door when considering the main row of blocked spaces.
After seeing this, I reached out by email and by social media to this Chick-fil-A and to corporate Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A at North Mopac and Parmer Lane never responded to my message. Chick-fil-A headquarters did, but only sent a very generic (what I call) “industrial strength customer service” reply saying the owner/operator, Mark Ortego, would be reaching out shortly. Ortego never replied. I wrote headquarters again saying they should take this issue seriously, that such violations could easily result in daily fines and that such violations discriminate against their customers. I never heard anything.
So, not only are disabled people faced with access issues, our voiced concerns and needs are ignored. The Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist (Heteronormative Ableist Theistic) Patriarchy clearly does not care, and we should not expect this to change.
(Coda: I am one of the lucky ones–currently anyway. I was able to personally park, enter, and exit this location without difficulty, at least on this occasion, but this location certainly lost business from people who desperately needed those spaces. I did see, upon circling the building to leave, one additional kind-of-hidden disabled space on the opposite side of the store. And this is only one example. I see such violations at all kinds of stores every. single. day. Often, stores do not have enough disabled parking spaces for their total number of spaces. Often, disabled spaces are blocked in some way or another.)
Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda
Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives