Monday, June 17, 2013

Again With The Theme Parks

Amusement Park Faces Backlash Over Disability Access
Shaun Heasley, "Disability Scoop" - June 17, 2013

This case is even more interesting than the Great Disney World Controversy. Here we have a theme park that seems to be trying to be helpful to visitors with disabilities in a more targeted, discreet, and fair way. Under their new policy, you have to wait like everyone else, but you can leave the line and go do other things until it's your time to enter the ride. In effect, it removes the physical aspect of the wait, leaving only a mental wait. It's a policy designed mainly for people with physical disabilities.

For people with certain cognitive or mental impairments, though, the problem isn't literally standing in line, it's the wait itself … the gap between the moment they decide to take the ride and the moment they're allowed to do so. There's a risk of stereotyping here, but it does sound right to note that people with autism, especially, might find it all but impossible to tolerate waiting, and incapable of making the mental adjustment necessary to say to themselves, "Well, at least I can go do something else until it's my turn." The parents complaining about the new procedure may have a point that the new accommodation simply doesn't match with that specific kind of disability.

But wait! Something called the "Autism Society" disagrees! They think the new policy is accommodating enough, and that having Autism shouldn't exempt people from waiting their turn. I don't know if they're right, or if they have the wrong idea about reasonable accommodation, but it's an interesting example of an important phenomenon … a disability organization with policies and philosophies that don't fully mesh with individuals with disabilities and, especially, their families.

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