By Gary D. Boyd, FAHRA, FACHE
Many of us have had individuals on our
staff with disabilities, either temporary or
permanent, and worked with them to develop reasonable accommodations that
allowed them to be productive members
of our organizations. Well, recently, I
had to deal with one of my most difficult
Last fall, I had elective surgery on
my right foot to correct some long term
problems. I went home the same day I
had surgery and returned to work one
week later. I had a knee high orthopedic boot, was non-weight bearing for
a month, and gradually started to put
weight on my foot in the boot over the
next four weeks. I was on crutches for a
total of eight weeks and I’m weaning myself from a cane as you read this.
I prepped myself for surgery well.
My biggest obstacle was going to be getting around on crutches. I obtained my
crutches a few weeks ahead of surgery,
practiced in my neighborhood, strengthened my arms, and learned the technique
of walking with them. I even found a
shoulder bag ahead of time I could use
in place of a brief case.
My first week was fine; I was home,
didn’t go outside much, and my wife
helped me with most things I couldn’t
do myself. When it was time to go back
to work, a coworker and I arranged a
car pool because I couldn’t safely operate the pedals in a car with the boot on
I started to get an appreciation of what
“reasonable accommodation” really means.
For buildings and facilities, it means doing
just enough to get by.
my right foot. Once out of the house I
began to encounter barriers seemingly
everywhere I turned. Doors are hard to
open with both hands while trying to
manipulate a crutch. Steps higher than
four inches or so were difficult to climb.
Stairs were climbed by sitting on my
derriere and sliding up or down. Ice and
snow on sidewalks was scary and dangerous. Tables, desks, and chairs didn’t
really accommodate my boot and leg
comfortably. Carrying a coffe cup was
out of the question.
I started to get an appreciation of
what “reasonable accommodation” re-
ally means. For buildings and facilities,
it means doing just enough to get by.
Doors are heavy and difficult to manage
without power assist. Once, at a public
facility, I found the restroom had all of
the required accommodations for peo-
ple with disabilities, that is, if you could
manage to open the self closing door to
get inside! At a hotel I asked for a room
with a shower I could step directly into
and found that it had a six inch barrier
at the bottom I had to get over some-
how. The lobby bar had a ramp to al-
low me to avoid the three steps down to
enter it; however, it was way in the back
of the establishment. The list goes on.
I can vouch it’s tough to negotiate day
to day activities when you’re not fully