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Are Tewksbury Businesses Required To Be Handicapped Accessible?

A reader brought forth a question dealing with handicapped accessibility at private businesses.

Question: Does the town have any bylaws requiring private businesses to be handicapped accessible?

This is a question that was prompted by an email from a reader who was concerned that a local doctor's office was not handicapped accessible. She said she had witnessed two elderly men having to carry an elderly woman in a wheelchair into the office on multiple occasions.

Answer: For the answer to this question, we went to Steve Sadwick, Tewksbury's director of Community Development. According to Steve, private businesses fall under state guidelines when it comes to handicapped accessibility.

"Handicap accessibility is covered by 521 CMR which is promulgated by the Architectural Access Board pursuant to authority granted by M.G.L. c. 22 section 13A. These are state regulations and general law. If someone is interested in filing a complaint, the number is 617-727-0660.

"Makes sense for businesses to have a state-wide regulation that is consistent across municipal boundaries."

(One final note -- Handicapped accessibility requirements for municipal buildings is covered under the Federal Americans With Disabilities Act.)

Mary January 16, 2013 at 12:01 PM
I am not in a wheelchair, but in the past after being operated on, I felt the hardship that handicapped people deal with on a daily basis. I required a wheelchair for a few months and was very upset when I had to get around in a store, (width of aisles), no drop curbs, no automatic opening doors, etc., including a few doctors offices not having ramps to get into them. Handicapped people have to get around too. They should not be limited to just staying home. Yes, I believe all businesses, offices, stores, etc. should be handicapped accessible. Just a note to my posting, handicapped is not only those in a wheelchair. Many elderly people, (also some young people) use canes and crutches. They also need an easy way to get in and out of an establishment.
TomH January 16, 2013 at 04:09 PM
There is no excuse for a doctors office to not be fully handicapped accessible! I understand private businesses that are in buildings that were built before handicapped standards were invoked, but these days that is a rare exception. Shame on any doctor that is in a non accessible facility. There are plenty of accesaible office buildings with vacancies!!!
AMBA January 16, 2013 at 06:51 PM
I know which doctor this is his office is near Friendly's. He is too cheap to put a ramp in. He needs to retire.
Janellen27 January 17, 2013 at 06:18 AM
I didn't read the story from the link, and I believe the law is "X" number of spaces required for "Y" number of total parking spaces. Growing problem: Baby Boomers are retiring and falling apart! There are not enough Handicap spaces for all of those people who need them these days at certain day parts. Also, people misuse them in a number of ways, all reportable and worth a fine or losing the handicap placard rights altogether. Examples: If husband is the handicap person, he can't sit in the car taking up a Handicap space waiting for the wife (who is not handicapped) to go into, say, Market Basket, and do the weekly shopping. That's misuse. Another common form is, "I know, but I'm only running in for a minute." So, how long do you think it will take that Officer over there to write you a $100 ticket? Sometimes people forget to place their placard on the mirror, and since it's illegal to drive with anything obstructing one's view, it's a common occurrence for people to forget. Sometimes I ask--nicely--if they have their placard to remind them, save them a fine. I'm finding many people are grateful that I checked because, they--naturally--don't want to pay a fine, but are also getting pretty sick of not being able to find a space when violators are misusing them. . . .
Janellen27 January 17, 2013 at 06:20 AM
. . . There are forms at The RMV that can be filled out to report anyone misusing a Handicap placard. Misue happens a lot at Wal-Mart and worth a $100 ticket everytime! I've seen cars full of kids and adults w/no placard using the Handicap spaces, and not everyone is glad I remind them to hang their tag. One carful called me an "Effin White Bitch", sped off, back to Lowell. There, now, that's not only rude; it's racism, too! ("We're breaking the Law and you're an "effin White Bitch" for noticing!" Nice.) Best to always just get the Registration Number and let it go at that. The type of people who will react this way could be capable of worse things.

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