Winter is upon us and along with it comes removal of snow and ice from sidewalks in front of homes, businesses, universities and elsewhere. Cities may or may not get involved with the removal of snow; the same is true of universities and businesses - yet what about people with disabilities. For many people who experience forms of disabilities, removing snow from the sidewalks is simply not going to happen.
Some cities, out of the seemingly ever-present concern that a person is, 'faking,' their form of disability, require a doctor's statement before they will pitch in and help people who are unable to shovel snow from sidewalks. Other cities say next to nothing or nothing about any assistance that may be provided. Perhaps people who have forms of disabilities should start being concerned about city government officials; equal treatment and all that. Let's look at a couple of cities that have said at least something about snow and yard waste removal and helping those who are unable to do so themselves.
The City of Independence
In The City of Independence, snow removal consists of a standard size snow plow making two passes in a person's primary driveway only, for the purpose of emergency ingress and egress. The service is activated when snow accumulation is four inches or more as determined by the City Service Director and after all of the city's streets have been cleared of snow. In other words - a person with disabilities may never receive this service.
After the plow drivers are notified they have sixteen hours to complete their scheduled routes. The Snow Removal Program is not able to accommodate on demand or immediate responses to people with disabilities who request snow removal. To be eligible for snow removal services at all a person must be:
City of Fort Walton Beach
In The City of Fort Walton Beach, if a person is not able to put their container out due to a physical limitation, the City offers a once per week, 'walk up,' service. The service is provided to seniors and residents with disabilities that prevent them from being able to roll out their garbage container. City staff members walk up to the person's residence and roll out the garbage container, dump it, and then return it. In order to qualify, a person needs to fill out a, 'Special Needs,' application and return it to the City's office for their approval. Not a word concerning snow removal, although it might help with yard waste.
Yard Waste Removal and People with Disabilities
For a number of People with Disabilities, raking the yard, piling up branches that may have blown down in a storm, as well as placing yard waste in a dumpster and then rolling it to the curb are all outside of their abilities. Not all of us have family members and friends who can help with these tasks. A number of seniors find themselves in the same situation.
So what is to be done? People can help their neighbors who are seniors or people who experience forms of disabilities that do not permit the removal of yard waste. It may be worth looking into whether or not the trash company where you are located offers any removal services related to rolling out dumpsters filled with yard waste. It may also be beneficial to search for and attempt to find people in your area who are seeking this kind of work and will do it for a cheap price.
Wheelchair Users, Snow Removal and Yard Waste
People who use wheelchairs may or may not have the ability to do any kind of yard work, to include picking up and removing yard waste. I have known wheelchair users who definitely will not hesitate to rake their yards or pick up yard waste as they are able. I have also known people with disabilities such as Multiple Sclerosis or quadriplegia who certainly do not have this ability. We appear to be living in a time when fewer able-bodied persons are willing to help their neighbors.
In my opinion, every community needs to have an organization that helps people with tasks they are unable to perform themselves, including the removal of yard waste. The concern is a personal one for me. As I age, the osteoarthritis in my knees, ankles and feet will only worsen. Will anyone be willing to help people who experience forms of disabilities to remove yard waste, not only now, but in the future
A Word About Community
It is almost funny in a way... I watch as the City of Pueblo, CO. continues to rip out curbs in neighborhoods and put in ADA ramps on corners. Too many people who use wheelchairs in this city are forced to use them in the streets, making for a dangerous situation. Yet the city will not have anything to do with either snow removal or yard waste.
Please understand that in Pueblo, summers are very, very hot - usually above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The fire dangers around here are all too real; every year homes burn down in this city. The city does not seem to be concerned about the removal of fire dangers; maybe the fire department knows of an organization that can help.
A community is something that needs to be inclusive and not avoid the needs of the seniors and people with disabilities in its midst. In America alone there are more than fifty-million people who experience some form of disability. As more people, to include people with disabilities in America, continue to age - the need for snow removal and yard waste removal will only grow.