We’ve Got to E-lim-in-ate the Obstacles

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Are the folks who came up with the blueprints for so-called “accessible” spaces now designing packaging for containers of fast-acting sugar used to treat hypoglycemia?

A few mornings ago, I had need of such a quick hit and decided to try out a bottle of glucose drink. (That’s what it’s called. Try Wal-Mart. Surprisingly, it doesn’t suck.) I’d bought a bottle, but hadn’t gotten around to using it yet. I almost didn’t that morning.

First of all, I couldn’t unscrew the lid. My hands aren’t all that strong, but they’re not that weak, either. Turns out there was this plastic outer wrap all over the bottle, including over the lid. When I finally figured that out and managed to get the plastic off of the lid, it unscrewed quite easily.

That’s when I found that the opening to the bottle had one of those plastic and foil kind of covers with the half-circle you lift up and use to remove the barrier to get to the drink itself.

Great. Just when you have the brainpower of a slug and the manual dexterity of a rock, you’re forced to work for your sugar fix.

Why is that, I wondered…but didn’t come up with any answers. Oh, sure, some idiot back in the 1980s decided to put poison in a pain killer, which led the industry to come up with packaging to thwart the no-goodniks and their ilk. But can’t they come up with something we can actually open without first having to get an advanced degree in packaging technology?

I’ll have to ponder that in much the same way as I often mull over why accessible bathroom stalls are always at the far end of the row. Or why public bathrooms without a door, but with a short hallway and a couple of turns between the public area of the building and the bathroom are too narrow for a scooter — or a large wheelchair — to maneuver. Even in hospitals. Or why bathroom doors can’t swing in and out so you can actually get…well, in and out.

There’s a restaurant in town that has an accessible stall in the ladies’ room — but you can’t get into the bathroom. On the other hand, you can enter the ladies’ room in the building where my grandson’s oral surgeon’s office is located — but you can’t get back out. (I have to have my husband wait outside the door to let me out when I’m finished. Hopefully, other women who have to “go” don’t think he’s a masher.)

What if, instead of coming in tiny little plastic bottles, glucose drinks came in tiny little aluminum cans with eensy-weensy bottle openers? How about containers with built-in glucose meters? The lower your blood glucose gets, the easier it is to remove the cap. Somewhere in the 50s, it opens itself. Any lower, and it also pours itself into your mouth.

At the other end of the spectrum — this is when you’re hyperglycemic and really need a bathroom…often — I haven’t a clue. There is no way an accessible stall will automagically appear in the first space instead of the last. The best you could hope for is an accessible stall that a scooter or wheelchair will actually fit inside of. That is, if you can get into the bathroom in the first place.

You’d be surprised how many places have an “accessible” stall with a wide door…and that’s it. Oh, it has the requisite bar inside to hold onto, but no room to park inside. So you park your mobility vehicle of choice outside and hobble in, hanging onto the door, the tops of the dividers, toilet paper dispensers and anything else that comes in handy. No, no. Not the toilet tissue dispenser: It’s usually under the bar, where you have to somehow hang upside-down to get any tissue out.

Unopenable containers with contents to be used in an emergency. Inaccessible accessible spaces. Anybody got a solution? No matter how wild? If anybody comes up with something really viable…I get a finder’s fee.

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