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Areas need fixed in city to help disabled

By Staff | Dec 3, 2010

“Unity in the community” doesn’t include everyone.

Everyone knows that Shepherdstown in not very hospitable to people with disabilities, most especially wheelchair riders. That is why my daughter, who uses a power wheelchair, rarely comes to visit me here, and when she does, we find ourselves shaking our heads and rolling our eyes at the evidence of neglect as we make our way down German Street and across Princess.

One notable exception this year was at the Men’s Club where the accessible access has been cleaned up and the craft displays were arranged with wide aisles for easy passage. Kudos to you thoughtful folk!

Further down the street, however, we were shocked to find that a step blocked our entrance into the Visitor Center. When I went inside to inquire, the volunteer first murmured something about historic preservation and then shook her head in sympathy when I pointed out that anyone handy could take some scrap wood and an hour of time and construct a simple ramp that could be taken in and out with the Visitor Center sign.

There are many other examples where a simple fix would make a big difference. One particularly egregious – and dangerous – threat to people with mobility impairments is the sidewalk in front of 113 Princess Street, just before the Blue Moon. (Ironically, the Blue Moon has gone out of it’s way to make access from the street easy and safe.)

Today, my daughter steered her wheelchair in the road instead of taking a chance on getting stuck in the broken sidewalk, which is what happened to her last summer.

It must be someone’s responsibility to get that fixed before anyone really gets hurt.

I love the quaint, historic character of Shepherdstown as much as the next person, and I accept that not every shop and restaurant can be made accessible, but a little attention and caring could go a long way towards making things better and a lot more welcoming.