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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Comments by Users Display Ignorance, Abusive Attitudes Toward Disability Community

          Daniel Rubin of the Inquirer recently wrote a piece on the lack of wheelchair accessible cabs in Philadelphia. I always like his writing, and it’s good to see any non-patronizing coverage of the disability community actually reach the light of day.

          But besides the importance of the issue, I found something else rather compelling about the version of the article. The complete ignorance found in the comments section was disturbing. People were absolutely abusive to the disability community, angrily wondering who should pay for accessible service (even though one entrepreneur simply wants “waivers from regulations, such as some reduced fees, and approval to keep the vehicles in service longer” to provide accessible taxi service according to the article), why people would even need such a service, and questioned how it was even the concern of anybody but people with disabilities as if it therefore didn’t deserve space in the newspaper.

          One especially ignorant commenter suggested strapping people in wheelchairs to the bumpers of taxis. To’s credit, the comment and others were deleted after I used the “Report Abuse” button – something I plan to do in these situations more often. The picture on the profile of the individual making this comment indicated that he was a black person, which in my opinion made the comment even more offensive. I know he was trying to be humorous, but the reference to such treatment people of his color suffered in this country years ago is staggeringly ignorant.

          But even the technically non-abusive comments showed a disturbing attitude toward the disability community.

Is the cabbie really expected to lift a 220 pound wheelchair into his/her trunk? Does it fold up? Only a fool would expect that type of service. You are lucky to be able to fit your luggage into the average cab.

— gb

And who is expected to pay for all of this?

Oh, that’s right, everyone else in the city...I’m sorry if you are disabled, but it isn’t up to me to make up for your inconvenience.

— DeltaV

[Citing the article,] “It’s been 21 years since the ... Act was passed, and I have a basic expectation...”

Translated: I know it costs too much to an entrepreneur to add special facilities for me but I expect politicians to force entrepreneurs to do what I want.”

— hodg99

If you took all the money spent complying with the ADA over the years you could probably design a wheel chair that climbs stairs and hope in cabs.

— dartvader

If you have a wheelchair, you already have a ride.

- Joe Pyne

Oh shut up you crybaby.

— duh66

          Readers may have to be logged-in to read the comments, but these moronic comments are still available on the website as of the date of this post. The fact is that supposedly monitors comments before they are published. It is unacceptable that a major news organization is uneducated enough about the disability community to display these types of comments. Many are equivalent to racist remarks that never would have been published.

          To be fair, several people have pointed out the wasteland that is the comments section of the and similar websites. And many of the people commenting obviously lack the ability to read. Yet, these type of comments would not have been tolerated by any other community. It wouldn’t have taken a reader to report the abuse. In fact, they likely would have sparked reaction from “community leaders” and follow-up articles.

          So, once again it appears our community lacks leadership, not only with no response to this situation, but the very fact that such comments are still being made and published. It reveals a complete failure of our so-called advocates to educate the public about the need for access, the fact that people with disabilities are contributing members of society, and more. Apparently they are too busy making sure everybody uses the politically correct terms for their “clients.”