Last week my son and I took a trip to look for an apartment for him to live in this fall. We are so proud of him finishing his Master’s and moving on to the Ph.D. Looking for an apartment takes on some extra meaning due to his cerebral palsy and his use of a mobility scooter to get to and around the campus. The school maintains a website you can peruse to find housing options. It also includes parameters by which you can narrow your search, like price, location and even whether or not the space is disability accessible. We made a list of the apartments he could afford, and a few he could not, and set out to see all of them over a three-day trip. I have to say that what these apartments mean by "accessible" varied widely from place to place. Some of them made me question how they even qualified.
The first high-end apartment complex we went to had a concierge and someone manning the door, so it would not be hard for my son to get into the building, it had spacious elevators that he could enter and exit easily. Most of the doors – to the pool on the 6th floor, to the meeting rooms and gym and the apartments, were manual and required a fob to open. These would be a little more difficult to manipulate. At least each floor was flat once you reached it. There were washers and dryers in each apartment for laundry and trash chutes on each floor. The problem with this option was expense. Top dollar got you lots of nice things, but he is paying his own expenses out of his stipend, and he still needs money to eat. If he could have lived on the free Dunkin’ Doughnuts in the lobby every Monday, we would have been fine; otherwise, we had to keep looking! We looked at others which cost just as much and found different results; one had electric door openers and one did not, one had wide halls and open floor plans to maneuver in, some apartments he would not have been able to turn around in. What baffles me is that all of these "expensive" options occupied new buildings, none older than ten or twelve years, so how did some of them get away with such poor ADA compliance?