Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An Excess Of Accommodations

Today, I went down to the county offices to pay the property taxes on my house. My county has a new building, opened last year, to conduct most business with the county. This new building is rather spacious, with about fifteen windows for people paying whatever fees applicable. I've been in this building a few times since it opened and there is never a long line.

One thing I immediately noticed the first time I went in there was that every one of the fifteen windows was at dinner table height, so that patrons have to bend way over in order to write out a check, with their butts poked in the air.

I figured that the reason was to make county offices more accessible for those in wheelchairs, an assumption that was confirmed when I asked the clerk about it.

I'm all for building alterations that make public buildings more usable for those with physical limitations, but the way it was done in this particular building was ridiculous. I saw no need to make ALL the windows at wheelchair height; three or four windows would have been more than sufficient, in my opinion. After making this comment to the clerk, she told me that they were obliged to do it this way in order to get federal funds to build the building.

Curious, I looked up demographic statistics once I'd returned home. Out of a total population of about 310 million, only around 2.7 million Americans are in wheelchairs, which tends to support my assertion that far fewer wheelchair-height windows would have been more than sufficient.


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