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Accessibility to all still a crucial issue

November 24, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

Perhaps the most well-known line in our country's Declaration of Independence is this immortal edict: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

In the 21st century, it is difficult for most to grasp that there still are any type of prejudices or intolerances in this great nation. The fact is, there are.

Prejudices and intolerance, though, can come in many forms, including lack of action to address one's special needs.

This is the case with Earlie Delaney, a handicapped man from Anmoore, who crawled up more than 20 steps and down hallways in Philippi City Hall Tuesday to attend a council meeting.

Delaney, who lost a leg to diabetes in 1999 and later injured his back, did so in protest - not for himself - but for another handicapped person.

Although Philippi City Hall is considered handicapped accessible, the facility's wheelchair lift has been out of service for more than a year due to disrepair.

Repairs have been made to the aging lift, but an inspection must be made before the machine can again be used. Philippi City Clerk Tammy Stemple told The Inter-Mountain the paperwork for the inspection has been sent to Charleston, but no action has been taken.

This, in our opinion, is unacceptable. Officials need to power through the red tape and bureaucracy to bring Philippi City Hall into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Public buildings should be accessible to all, including those with disabilities. It is everyone's inherent right to be able to participate in the governmental process if they so choose. Having a government building that is inaccessible to handicapped citizens is all but putting a roadblock up and telling them their thoughts and opinions don't matter.

We understand the city of Philippi has made several efforts to accommodate Delaney and for that we applaud them. However, the fact remains, the building still is not accessible to those with disabilities.

This must change. Everyone's opinion matters concerning governmental action and to not address this is simply closing off the political process to those who cannot walk the more than 20 steps into Philippi City Hall.



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