The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990.
“The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else,” explains the introduction on the website https://adata.org.
It stands to reason that the federal government should have set an example with its facilities by seeing that they all became ADA compliant in the ensuing 27 years, but that hasn’t been the case.
And, one of the most blatant examples of neglect has been the local post office in Aberdeen, with its high front steps needed to access the building on West Bel Air Avenue and the absence of a wheelchair and walker accessible ramp.
That’s finally going to change in the coming months, when a ramp will be installed, according to the Aberdeen city manager, Randy Robertson, who received word recently from U.S. Postal Service officials that a new ramp is in the works.
The ramp is underway and a review the State Historic Preservation Officer is expected to be completed by Oct. 17 and a construction contract “awarded shortly thereafter,” according to the email a postal official sent to Robertson on Aug. 3.
“Council and citizens, it appears there is some movement there,” Robertson announced during the most recent meeting of the City Council meeting on Aug. 14.
This is certainly welcome news. Why it has taken so long to get the ramp might be worthy of a short novel, but clearly one of those most responsible for actually making the federal bureaucracy get moving is Aberdeen Mayor Patrick McGrady.
By his estimation, the mayor — he wasn’t mayor then, just a young 20-something — began his involvement about seven years ago, when he was walking to the post office one day and saw an older man on the sidewalk in front of the building, who appeared to be waiting for someone.
According to McGrady, the man was disabled and unable to climb the steps. The man told him that some days one of the people working inside would come out and take his mail or help him with postage, and some days they were too busy and might not come out.
McGrady helped the man himself and then began writing and emailing the Postal Service for an explanation. What he got then and for several years later was the classic bureaucratic runaround.
Earlier this year, the mayor complained during a City Council meeting that he was still getting the runaround, so he organized a protest outside the post office on a Saturday in May. It was well done and well covered by The Record and The Aegis. He also enlisted state legislators and local congressmen to write the USPS about the need for the ramp.
The ramp is a long time coming, too long in fact, but soon is better than never. The mayor and the citizens and the other politicians who got involved to make it happen are to be commended for their perseverance.