Inconvenient Accessibility

News

It’s hard to imagine that a state government building isn’t a shining example of what ADA accessibility looks like.

Terre Haute residents go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles  to renew their driver’s license, receive a permit or register to vote.

For the past four years, one well known local businessman has gone to the BMV under new circumstances and now sees a great need for change.

Many of us know, former tax advisor Andy Stadler was diagnosed with ALS which makes him wheelchair bound. He’s also a disabled Iraqi war veteran.

He still has to physically visit the BMV to receive a disabled veteran’s discount on a license renewal … It can’t be done online.

Stadler says, it’s been quite a challenge the past four years for him to enter the building safely and conveniently despite his repeated complaints.   

“I was hopeful it would change, bottom line, it hasn’t.”

As Andy Stadler visited the BMV just this week, he snapped some photos of how he enters the building.

“Just a couple of inches on either side of my wheelchair, and either I’m dropping off the edge of the sidewalk, which is about a 6 inch drop which in a wheel chair means I’m falling over,” Stadler said.

Squeezing past what he describes as decorative posts on the sidewalk to the entrance is just one issue.

Another is handicap parking and the sidewalk ramp at the north end of the building, while the main entrance is at the south.

“I don’t understand why they don’t have a ramp like right in front of the door.”

Finally, there’s no automatic door.

“Just the other day when I was there, I watched an elderly lady with a walker, was extremely difficult to get in and out of the building, between opening the doors and simply getting up on the sidewalk, because there’s not a ramp right at the door.”    

Stadler’s had the same experience entering the building for the past four years. During that time he’s taken his complaints to the branch manager. Each year, he thought his situation would invite a better solution, but this time around BMV staff were what he describes as dismissive.

“Just kind of blowing me off, didn’t care and just didn’t really want to address the problem at all… Until you’re in a wheelchair, or until you’re disabled, you just go about your daily business, you don’t really pay attention.”

Stadler’s been in contact with state representative Bob Heaton to help him have the issue addressed.

Today, we reached out to the local BMV and were directed to the state department. Their coordinator is looking into whether the Terre Haute branch complies with all ADA requirements, which is likely they do.

We will bring you updates as we hear a response.

We also talked with local board members of Disability Awareness Working Group, they tell us ADA requirements are based on the number of handicap parking spots is based on lot size, the length from the sidewalk ramp to the front door and the weight of the front door determines if an automatic button is needed.

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