Disabled are unwelcome in CH

It is illegal for the city to create barriers to the disabled, according to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The city of Cleveland Heights did, however, bar this disabled person from ready, easy and respectful entry to a city meeting of its Noble Road study module on March 19.

I had notified city staff I required assistance accessing the handicapped entryway for the preceding module held at Oxford Elementary School a month before. They complied.

The March 19 module notice claimed the front door of Monticello Middle School was handicapped accessible. Unfamiliar with the renovated school, I believed that claim.

That claim was a lie. The notice's false claim was no mistake.

Assistant Planning Director Karen Knittel, standing alongside City Administrator Danny Williams, told me staff did not learn the claim was wrong until they got there that evening. Which meant they just made it up!

It was no joke to be stuck for 10–15 minutes in a mobility device in the bitter cold and wind as all other attendees could stare at me as they drove by along Monticello Boulevard, and then down Yellowstone, to their entrance at the back of the building.

It was no joke when Brian Iorio [a city planner] and a city safety officer, who resembled the city's fire chief, carried out a rickety platform structure with oddly sized legs. They flipped it over and around in a frustratingly farcical way—all without a thought about the code requirements for a safe, rigid ramp that could accommodate my heavy mobility device.

I gained entrance only after demanding they get the school custodian, who met me at the real handicapped entryway.

Five days later, that experience was still raw down to my soul. The mayor spoke at a FutureHeights Leadership Workshop I was at. He said his leadership style was to welcome everyone's participation with City Hall.

I had to speak out, while close to tears. I said I have not been made to feel welcome by anyone from City Hall.

The mayor did not respond, thus showing him to be either a very cold and calculating actor or truly ignorant of how his directors, just five days before, had humiliatingly barred me from entry to a city event.

There is an axiom which states, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Which of those were the cause for my experience on March 19? Which applied to the apparent ignorance of the mayor, five days later, regarding my degradation at the hands of those he put in charge of city operations?

A city should never allow its staff or directors to demonstrate maliciousness, stupidity, or incompetence in their duties as city employees.

Because of one of those personal attributes, I was the victim of a heinously degrading act that violated Title II of the ADA.

That is a fact.

I know the outcome when sharing an uncomfortable fact about City Hall. Those inside City Hall will paint me as the villain in all of this, treating me with greater hostility.

Diane Hallum

Diane Hallum is a 32-year resident in the "North of Monticello" Noble Road area of Cleveland Heights with a cognitive disorder affecting her motor functions, speech, and excitability.

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Volume 17, Issue 5, Posted 10:23 AM, 04.29.2024