Fight for the Right to Accessibility

By Liv Bender

When I first got diagnosed with TM in 2009, I thought accessibility was a right, not a privilege. Growing up in a small New York suburban town, everything was simple. Buildings all had ramps, doorways were wide enough, elevators were everywhere. Accessibility was easy. Then I grew up, traveled around a bit…I quickly realized that I was spoiled. Accessibility was not easy. Accessibility was a privilege. ⠀

Here I am, 10 years later, 10 years wiser, and all I want more than anything is to live in Manhattan. Why would I choose a city where accessibility is an afterthought? Where public transportation is almost impossible? Where buildings claim they are wheelchair accessible while there’s a flight of stairs and no elevator in sight? Because I want to. Why should I have to give up a dream of living in NYC because accessibility sucks?

Only 36 subway stations in Manhattan are accessible for wheelchair users. Out of 147, that’s basically 25%. In one of the most expensive cities in the country — one of the most densely populated. How is this even possible? Because accessibility is viewed as a privilege when it should be a right. Money doesn’t want to be spent and modifications don’t want to be made unless we fight for them. Fight for the right to accessibility.

So I’ll move to NYC. I’ll find an accessible apartment that’s probably more expensive than a 5-floor walk-up. I’ll pay extra money for Ubers when I want to go to Brooklyn. I’ll struggle to get into bars and small boutiques. I’ll do this in hopes that Manhattan will make changes. Changes to make life just a little bit easier for those living with disabilities. Because it’s our right…am I right?