Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Consider people with limited abilities


With an elderly handicapped mother and my own issues with being unsteady on my feet, I have noticed that people just don’t put themselves in the shoes of one who has problems with accessibility when designing handicap parking spaces, thresholds or shoveling snow.

My mother uses a four-wheel walker, and she has difficulty pushing the walker over thresholds that do not have ramps on each side. She has to forcibly push the walker to get it over the threshold, which could upset her precarious balance.

She has had to have dental work lately. I have brought her to dentist downtown because that is the easiest for her to get into.

However, the handicap parking spot near the dental clinic is right next to a tree and a signpost, which limits accessibility to the office. There is no curb cut with a ramp next to the parking spot for easy access for her walker.

She has to step up on the curb, after placing her walker up on the sidewalk, and it is a high step. Again, it is enough to upset her balance.

The same is true in front of another medical facility farther down the street.

A ramp is provided at the end of the block, but it is difficult for her to walk that far.

My mother had an appointment last Friday at the dental clinic, and a ridge of snow on the sidewalk was another barrier.

I had planned to take her to the dental clinic in a wheelchair, which has been provided in the vestibule of the dental office, but I had to shovel the ridge of snow left on the sidewalk before I could bring the wheelchair out to the car.

I had also planned to push the wheelchair up on the small ramp at the corner of the intersection to bring her to the dental office, but a huge mound of snow in front of a vacant building near the corner prevented that from happening.

I could see tire tracks on the sidewalk on the other side of the street, and knew that the city crew had probably plowed that side.

Why hadn’t the sidewalk on the west side of the street been completely plowed?

Downtown it seems there is no place to put the snow when the sidewalks are shoveled. City crews do remove large amounts of snow as soon as they are able, and that is a great help.

But one business owner tried to be helpful later that day, and shoveled a ridge of snow off of the edge of the sidewalk. However, the chunks of snow were thrown into the street, right where I had to walk later to the car. I was able to step between the chunks, but I could have mis-stepped and fallen.

Although the handicap access that has been provided in recent years is wonderful, there are still unthinking people who do not consider people with limited abilities and those who use walking or mobility equipment.

I simply ask to please be aware of those who aren’t as nimble and remove any barriers, especially when clearing walkways after snowfalls. It just takes a little more effort to prevent falls and serious injuries.

Thank you for your future assistance.


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