11 responses to “You Can’t Legislate Ableism Away”

  1. amandaw


    If I hear “ADA” cited as proof that someone will treat me right one more time I am going to throw a fit.

    The ADA is a starting point. People don’t have to follow it, cause that shit ain’t enforced. If they feel like blatantly violating it, they can, knowing that they will only suffer consequences if you have the time, money and motivation to hire an attorney and sue them for it, and the judge and jury consider you enough of a Good Cripple to merit caring about. Considering we are a population mired in forced poverty, short on time and energy to begin with, most people (employers, servicefolk, everyone you encounter in society) know there’s really not much threat against them if they do wrong by you, so they are pretty much free to do so.

    The ADA didn’t stop me from being treated like shit by every employer I’ve ever had, and needless to say there aren’t chairs in queue areas across the country, so “accessibility” and “accommodations” aren’t much in effect for my case. The ADA has a limited scope — addressing very important things! just not enough of them — and even within that scope, no teeth to make people follow the rules.

  2. vesta44

    I’ve wondered about our local Wal-Mart, knowing all the bad things I’ve heard about Wal-Mart’s hiring practices and how they treat employees, because one of the employees there uses an electric wheelchair and has a service dog. He’s allowed to have his service dog with him when he’s working, and I wondered if that was a general policy, or just something that the local manager did on his own (would he even be allowed to do that if his superiors found out and it wasn’t a general policy to allow employees with service animals to have them at work?).
    Cynic that I am, is that something that Wal-Mart is doing to counter their bad reputation in other areas? “See, we’re not so bad after all. We hire the handicapped and even let them bring their service animals to work.”
    I guess if it’s not an isolated incident, and they have more than just token employees who are hired and can do this, then it’s a good thing and may lead the way for other employers to do the same.
    As for not allowing service animals in restaurants, I don’t see the logic in that at all. If it’s a concern over behavior, service animals are better-behaved than most children I’ve seen in restaurants. If it’s a concern over animal hair in food, then they had better be sure all the kitchen help and wait staff are wearing hair/beard nets (my husband works in a plant that makes soy milk, he’s in the warehouse where it’s already boxed and ready to be shipped out and he has to wear a hairnet and beardnet while he’s at work, even though he’s never around the product when it’s being manufactured). But no one ever said that people who discriminate ever use any logic when they do what they do, more’s the pity.

  3. amandaw

    The Wal-Mart empire IS very good about disability. Better than any big employer out there, honestly. Now, that goes as far as it goes, which is that they make policies to be nice to disabled people and hire them and give them reasonable etc. but the way W-M works in practice is that it’s always too over-tasked to be able to hold strictly to the rules, so the rules go out the window. This is true anywhere in the retail/service sector but especially so with W-M. (I worked there.)

    But as far as talk goes? You can’t beat W-M in the megacorp business. They have excellent policy as regards disability.

  4. wonder

    >>amandaw: But as far as talk goes? You can’t beat W-M in the megacorp business. They have excellent policy as regards disability.

    until you try to take one of their electric scooters out to your car 😉

  5. Astrid

    I agree with s.e. and amandaw. Legislation is what provides the framework for what people can and cannot get in court. Attitude influences whether people will follow the legislation, try to find loophoes, or blatantly ignore it at all.

  6. Shiyiya

    I’m vaguely wondering what the recourse for all involved parties would be in intersections – say, a taxi driver who was allergic to or phobic of dogs. (Popped into my mind because I am rather phobic of dogs, no matter how well-behaved.) “I’m sorry, I can’t handle being in a small space with a dog, but I can call a different taxi for you”?

  7. Kaitlyn

    I’ve never hailed a cab off the street, Shiyiya, I usually call the company. (If I had to hail one, I’d never get one – that seems to take nerve.)

    Sometimes they want to know if you’ll be paying by credit card (some cars have newer machines, while most just do a rubbing of the card, like a gravestone rubbing or something) and if I called and said “I need to get to X and I have a service dog.” Just as a warning, in case of phobias or allergies. And they can hopefully send someone who won’t have a problem.

    But that’s more work on the part of a PWD, and if you hail a cab and they say “I’ll call someone who isn’t allergic” well then you have to wait and may be late. (And allergies can be bad – “I’m sorry but with your dog, I won’t be able to see because of my sneezing.”)

  8. Molly Bandit

    I remember once working as a hostess at a sit-down chain restaurant that one of the other hostesses was getting into an argument with a fellow that has a service dog for epilepsy. The guy kept calmly saying,”I have epilepsy, this is my service dog, I’m legally allowed to bring him in,” whereas my co-worker would respond not-so-calmly “bs, you’re not blind and that doesn’t exist.” I had to step in and seat the dude, then pull the coworker aside and explain through gritted teeth why she wrong and probably should have been fired/sued for that. Take away lesson: just because you don’t know something exists doesn’t mean it’s not real.

    I wish the take-away lesson from HR had been “Making someone take an online course on ‘diversity’ is not an appropriate consequence for humiliating one of your customers.”

  9. Kali

    Oh yeah, you expect crap when you’re a service dog partner, unfortunately.

    My current workplace- a COURTHOUSE, for crying out loud – didn’t understand what they were and weren’t allowed to ask, under law. They wanted to ask me for documentation that my dog is a necessary service dog, but thought they weren’t allowed to ask what tasks the dog performs, when in fact it’s the other way around – they aren’t supposed to ask for medical documentation, but they are allowed to ask about what tasks the dog does.

    I’ve had trouble with airlines – one asked me what my dog did and then demanded medical documentation, when the law says that if the dog is clearly marked, they have to accept that (we had to call over her supervisor to get our boarding passes). Then the flight attendant told me that my dog had to stay at my seat when I got up to use the restroom (um, NO). When we were making our connection, the boarding agent stopped us and asked for medical documentation AGAIN, and once again had to contact a superior to find out that yeah, we were supposed to be allowed on the blasted plane. That is MY medical information, and there is no way in hell I’m going to be waving it around for everyone in your damn company who thinks they have a right to see it. Not a damn one of them does.

    I’ve mostly done okay with taxis. One minivan taxi, the driver asked me to keep my dog on the floor rather than the seats, which was okay by me. Other than that, taxi drivers have on the whole been very polite.

    But OH, man to restaurants screw up. IHOP segregates me off by myself, and their managers are convinced that they have an obligation to do that.

    As to the question about allergies or phobias – by the strict letter of the law, my right to accomodation trumps the right to be accomodated for allergies or phobias. In practice, however, we service dog partners try to be good about it. I’m fine with moving across the room from someone if they’re afraid of my dog, or having someone else called to provide me service. My boy is fairly hypoallergenic, and I do share that with people who bring up concerns about allergies. As long as there is an effort made to accomodate me in an equal and similar way to other customers, I’m not going to be upset or cause a fuss. It’s when you treat me differently, separate me from other people, or cause me long waits that I’ll get growly.

    btw, much of my blog is about partnering a service dog, too.

  10. lauren

    I honestly just don’t get people who think that “there are laws against discrimination” means “there is no discrimination”. I mean, no one woulkd argue that, because there are laws against killing people or laws against stealing, nobody kills anymore and nobody steals. We all understand that laws exist to discourage that behaviour and to have a possibility of recourse when someone breakes the rules (whether the punishments in our criminal laws are actually good is a whole other problem). Yet other laws, laws that don’t protect “everybody” but only “those people” don’t work the same way?
    (as if, for example, laws protecting private property were not there to protect “only” people who have private property, and as if everyone couldn’t, at one point, become one of “those people” who have a disability)

  11. thetroubleis

    Yeah those laws that are supposed to protect me? Nope, not so helpful. My local post office still has sign up that says “Seeing Eye Dogs Only,” even though I brought in information showing that despite being a federal building, they are bound by Section 504.

    Those laws often are no help right in the moment of an access challenge, especially if your local law enforcement isn’t familiar with them.

    If someone has a disabling phobia or allergy , of course I’m going to do my best to accommodate them, but what exactly happened would depend on the situation and things such as who was there first, what kind of public accommodation it is, etc.