Local News

Handicapped Shoppers Want Easier Wheelchair Access To Stores

Posted June 22, 2000

— Shoppers may not notice how narrow the spaces are between racks in department stores. However, a lawsuit filed under theAmericans with Disabilities Actmay soon change the look and feel of your favorite store.

David Gamerdinger shops at his favorite grocery store because the employees are helpful. The store also offers easy wheelchair access.

"They've got good, wide aisles," Gamerdinger says. "Three wheelchairs could go through here with ease and still have room for other people to come by."

Federal and state law requires retailers to provide "reasonable access" to people with disabilities. "Reasonable" is up for interpretation.

A lawsuit pending in California may set a new precedent for aisle width. Many people with disabilities say 36 inches should be the minimum legal standard.

Children's store owner Edie Bigler does not think government should tell business owners how wide to make their aisles. She voluntarily makes her store accessible.

"I want elderly people to come here and shop with me," Bigler says. "I want young people with strollers to come in here and shop with me. They're not going to come in here if they can't get around."

A federal district court judge in California ruled that a Macy's store violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. A ruling on what the minimum aisle width should be is expected in August.

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