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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Handicapping the Already Challenged

High on the list of very enjoyable presentations at the conference in Lake Placid a couple weeks ago was "How to Work with Differently-Abled Clients", given by the NYS SBDC's Mike Soufleris, who I warned I might put in my blog. Mike's a great guy, but he's had trouble holding on to vehicles; they tend to get stolen from him. Don't ever park next to him.

One of the exercises involved listening to a tape where certain sonic qualities were lost. People asked to have it turned up, but it didn't help much. It was a great demonstration about how the hearing-impaired have to deal. Another activity involved putting a headset on one person so that she couldn't hear at all, and for two others to try to figure out how to communicate with her. (Hint: getting up close and yelling doesn't work.)

The discussion about the barriers that those who are physically impaired have to deal with was also intriguing. But when I participated in the discussion, it touched off a very raw nerve. I'm sure it was because it reminded me of the inconsiderate things I see in my neighborhood almost daily. They've been bugging me for a while.

There are a couple people who park their cars so that it blocks the sidewalk. I can get around if I'm on foot. But if I'm pushing a baby carriage or a cart for transporting groceries, I have to go back to the PREVIOUS driveway, ride in the street, and come back the NEXT driveway. It CAN be a busy street. And what of someone in a wheelchair or a walker? Or a blind person?

Another regular irritant involves the people who stop at the local bagel shop "for just a minute" and stop in the crosswalk, because "there's nowhere to park." I've seen this when there was a good spot two or three car lengths away. One time, I saw a blind man walk across the street; his cane hit the car, and he was totally disoriented. (I was too far away from him to help.) Fortunately, someone closer came to his aid. But it oughtn't to have necessary.

Fantasy #1: I "key" them. The reality: I was raised too well - Mom and Dad's fault, no doubt. Also, I don't know if that would be commensurate with their rude act. Also, I believe that it's illegal.
Fantasy #2. The reality: Oh wait, I may DO Fantasy #2 someday. It doesn't cause damage, and I don't THINK it's illegal. It's definitely commensurate with their behavior. Yeah, maybe I will...


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