June 17, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada -- and Drives an Amigo?

We could have a lot of fun with this if I could find a satisfacory comment system plug-in for the Rolling Rains Report! This article, received through the generosity of reader Scott Seale, ought to provoke some thought. Let me lead in by reiterating my refrain that conflicts over scarce resources -- scarcity itself as a "fact" of life for people with disabilities -- is primarily a policy decision. It is the decision not to implement Universal Design.

Michelle Bailey, a 22 year old TAB is handicapped by her four inch heels. Solution? She rents a mobility aid:

Michelle Bailey, a 22-year-old Texan, takes a break in Las Vegas on her scooter. She says four-inch heels are why she uses it.

In increasing numbers, Las Vegas tourists exhausted by the four miles of gluttony laid out before them are getting around on electric mobility scooters.

These aren't trendy Vespa motorbikes. They are more like updated wheelchairs.

Forking over about $40 a day, healthy tourists are cruising around Las Vegas casinos in transportation intended for the infirm (sic).

Tom Flynn, meeting the demands placed on his business, Universal Mobility, looks for guidance in the vapidity of the Medical Model of Disability (with its built-in method of limiting access and enforcing scarcity - prescriptions):

"You can't really discriminate against anybody," said Tom Flynn, owner of Universal Mobility. "We don't require a prescription or an explanation of why they need it."

But how does all this impact the disability community? The elimination of stigmatization of disability and, by extension, adaptive equipment, is a good thing, right? It is something we have worked at tirelessly for decades.

So what to make of those who are not inculturated into disability values but appear to be disabled and generate ill-will toward our community. For example:

"It was all the walking," 27-year-old Simon Lezama said on his red Merits Pioneer 3. Mr. Lezama, a fit-looking restaurant manager from Odessa rented it on day three of his five-day vacation, "and now I can drink and drive, be responsible and save my feet."

And, once again, as in the current situation with the Service Employees Union Internationa (SEIU)l, it is the lowest-paid, customer service staff who bear the brunt of the failure of leadership to adopt Universal Design:

"Several hotel bell desk workers, who handle most rental requests from tourists, said they try to discourage people who do not appear to need the scooters. But refusing the self-indulgent is not a viable option."

Watch for this story to permute and repeat itself around the world wherever Inclusive Destination Development is not adopted and as Boomers age into "the travel years."


Posted by rollingrains at June 17, 2007 11:37 PM