Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No Wheelchair Allowed? Apparently Some People Still Haven't Heard of the ADA.

This whole wedding experience has been a bit of a surprise for me. I expected to come across a few more challenges as I progressed in planning my wedding. Does that make me cynical? As it turns out though, I have been pleasantly surprised by everyone’s excitement and willingness to help however they can and have had nothing but positive experiences, especially with my dress. I became even more grateful for this when I saw a post made by one of my friends on facebook. She had been shopping for her best friend’s wedding dress when she was told that she could not enter the store because of her wheelchair. The story was picked up quickly by the local television station.

Here is the full story.

I can’t believe it. I mean, first of all you can see from the photo that the front of Kim Kriner's Bridal Boutique  is barrier free, which means that a person in a wheelchair can, in fact, enter the store. But someone has set it up so that the aisles are narrow making it hard for people in wheelchairs to get around. Does this person make an attempt to fix this, since you know, it’s the law? No, he or she puts a sign on the door and has staff tell people in wheelchairs to leave when they try to enter.

The girls entered anyway, only to be told that Stephanie could not enter the dressing room because her wheels might dirty the dresses. The staff that told them this was actually surprised when the girls got angry. See they have a policy about no shoes in the dressing room and wheels and shoes are the same thing, right?

My question is this. What if Stephanie had been the bride?

Clearly this store has never even considered the fact that someone with a disability might need to use their services. Cleary, they had no intentions of even trying to make accommodations for this before today.
All I can say is thank you Stephanie for going in anyway, for making this story public and for not letting this happen to someone else; someone like me, whose biggest fear was being told that she could not try on dresses because of her wheelchair.

And thank you to Mimi's Bridal Boutique and David's Bridal in Ann Arbor for seeing a bride and not a wheelchair, for making me feel comfortable and for helping me find my dress.


  1. Wow, all I can say is someone needs to inform that store owner that they can be sued and to change their store. That is crazy!

    I know one place I won't be shopping at for my dress when I get married. Not that I'll be shopping in Grand Rapids anyway, that's too far of a drive.

  2. Well, they were interviewed for the story so they know now. Luckily for them Stephanie's first instinct was the local TV station and not a lawyer.

  3. Too right. It's 2011... stores should be making provision for wheelchair access (and other forms of accessibility) in the same way as they make provision for the correct number of fire extinguishers and an appropriate level of insurance, the basic legal requirements of running a business.

    If the aisles aren't wide enough, then obviously the shop isn't big enough for the amount of stock it carries! They can get a bigger shop, or redesign their storage, or reduce the amount of stock they carry... but refusing to make the aisles adequately wide to meet the minimum standards is not an option!

    Well done to the bride for pushing on this. I wish I could have done it to all the inaccessible bridal stores I encountered (all the bridal shops in my town were inaccessible) but my now-husband asked me not to turn our wedding into an accessibility battlefield. While I don't disagree with him I resent that it was a choice we had to make.

  4. Mary, Stephanie wasn't the bride her friend was. I think the story would have been even worse if she had been the bride. Seeing as how they barred her from the dressing room even just to see the dresses her friend was trying on. I wonder how long this store has been getting away with this.

    I understand not wanting to turn your wedding into some disability rights fight. I wouldn't want to either and I am so glad for the lovely places I went to.

  5. I'm so glad this crap hasn't happened to you. No one deserves to be made to feel like that.

  6. My bad - re-reading the article it looks like they're both called Stephanie which is why I got confused.

    I was glad for the places that were accessible. However they didn't change the fact that I felt like a second class citizen that I had to spend an hour phoning store after store after store trying to find one that would deign to let me in.

  7. I am a wheelchair user and would have had a fit if I had this response when I was planning my wedding. Everyone was so accomodating for me, but I understand and have run in to many ignorant people like this

    Check out my blog "I Look Good Today"

  8. Man!! that sucks! how come that the wheelchairs are not allowed! That's rude to those disabled persons.

  9. The owner of one boutique came out and carried and my wheelchair up the stairs! I had the exact opposite experience people bent over backwards to help.