Access to McDonald’s

I mostly try to feed my kids fresh fish and vegetables from the neighboring fields, but every once in a while we go to McDonald’s.  I took my daughter the other day, at her request, and was reminded once again, that the fast food restaurant is not accessible.  Lilia, who is increasingly independent, wanted to wheel herself up the ramp, which is very narrow and goes behind some shrubs.  Worse, the Happy Meal toy display is between the entrance and the wheelchair ramp, effectively blocking the way.  Of course, the people there are very nice – customers and employees alike – and they always rush out to help me get Lilia in the door, but the issue here is indepedence.

During the meal, Lilia wheeled off to the bathroom.  She’d been able to use the toilet at the Center for the Disabled all by herself and so she was feeling confident.  But she couldn’t open the door by herself, and although there was a bar on the wall, the door to the stall was too narrow for her wheelchair. 

It seemed as if McDonald’s had added these token features in order to comply with building codes, but they did nothing to improve accessibility.  Not only is the environment unfriendly to wheelchair-bound customers, but also to potential employees with disabilities.

I may be wrong, but I don’t recall any wheelchair ramp at all at the McDonald’s we visit in South Carolina.

I suppose the message here is don’t eat at McDonald’s.   I can see the wisdom in this; I know about transfat; I saw “Supersize Me.”  But I  see a wasted opportunity.  Instead of trying to kick mothers out of the Ronald McDonald House for breastfeeding, McDonald’s could try to improve its corporate image by setting an example and creating a barrier-free space.

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6 thoughts on “Access to McDonald’s

  1. Shame on McDonald’s on several accounts! Esp. the continued manufacture of plastic toys! Sadly, I have to admit, we’ve fallen into that trap.

    Access to bathrooms and trains, etc. has gotten better in Tokyo. There are elevators, ramps, and toilets now that are accessible to wheelchairs. Even out in my neighborhood. I am amazed by their efforts! It makes getting around with a stroller much easier, too! Still, restaurants are sometimes restricted by space.

    At the hospital, I watched as a RA patient in a wheelchair tried with help from her daughter and nurses to get into the RA doctor’s office/cubicle. The door was wide enough, but the furniture was too close to the door. You would think someone would have thought about that!

    I myself am learning slowly about limitations and am sorry that Lilia has to face them. But I wonder if she sees them the same way we do. As an adult, I’ve had to adjust and of course it’s been frustrating, but at some point it gets part of the routine/my life. No buttons, no hills, budgeted energy expenditures, etc. eventually I may find myself in a wheelchair.

    I’m interested in how Lilia reacted. Does she get frustrated with obstacles or does she find her way around them? Has there been a change in her reactions/expectations as she has gotten older?

  2. The wheelchair is still a relatively new thing for her, as she got it just this past spring. She loves the independence, and she wants to do everything by herself now. I’m usually with her to negotiate obstacles, so at the moment, I think she is less frustrated, than thrilled to be able to get around independently (and to be able to wheel away from me!).

    I’m the one who’s frustrated. I’d like to take her to her dad’s baseball games, but they are held in stadiums where there is no wheelchair access. The other day we went to a new restaurant that had steps leading to the entrance. We had to carry her into the restaurant.

  3. Suzanne, sorry it’s taken a while to get back. I read back over what I wrote, and I hope I didn’t come off sounding like she or anyone should just limit themselves to places they can go or things they can do. I guess more than anything I was thinking about my acceptance of my changing reality and wondering about the progression from the other direction; i.e., gaining or growing into independence and realizing limitations. I look forward to reading the book you’ve edited!

    I hope she’ll be able to go to games with you someday. More than likely you’ve thought it through and may have even tried, but if you haven’t tried, do. Sometimes just showing up can rally people to make some changes. Even here.

  4. Annie, I didn’t think that at all. And I believe that Japan’s ageing population will force change, for better or worse, and that it will be easier to get around in the future. I see more and more people out and about in wheelchairs, and I believe that companies and communities are working to make Japan barrier-free, but that sometimes they just don’t think enough.

  5. I am so sorry for the frustration. We know a bit about unaccessible spaces, and the difficulty of children who are becoming too heavy to carry.

    I loved this post, you say everything so well, so succinctly.

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