Can you walk? You can? Then get out of the damn elevator!
October 23, 2010 9:11 PM Subscribe
If a building (in New York City) is listed as being accessible for disabled people, are you allowed to ask them if they're disabled before letting them use the elevator and deny them access to it if they say they're not? (I know this sounds offensive. It offends me. Please read the rest before judging. Thanks.)
posted by grumblebee to Law & Government (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My theatre company is sharing space with another theatre group. It's two theatres on the same floor of the same building. We're both renting from the same landlord.
The only way up to the theatres, other than walking up four flights of stairs, is via an elevator that has to be operated with a key. Unfortunately, the elevator opens backstage, behind the set of the other company. I know it's a royal pain for them to have people come out of an elevator backstage, while their actors are trying to prepare, but I can't move the elevator.
Many of the patrons of my show are elderly. Most of them come early (we ask them to) if they need to use the elevator, but a few get there fairly close to show time. We've shared the space with many other groups, and they've all been understanding. After all, some of the patrons who come up in the elevator are there to see THEIR shows. But this group that's in there now, all really young people who can't imagine what it's like to have trouble with stairs, is being really difficult about it.
Our shows start at 8pm. I promised them I'd never let anyone up after 7:55 and, even then, I'd only let people up that late in case of an emergency -- that I'd try to get everyone up by 7:50. They got upset about that, so I changed it to 7:45 and put a sign downstairs that said the last elevator run would be 15 minutes before the show.
Tonight, I went down at 7:45 and asked if anyone needed the elevator. An old couple said they did, and, as I was helping them into the elevator, a young couple decided to come along for the ride. I guess the actors in the other show saw them and got pissed off. Their stage manager complained to me.
She said, "The elevator is for handicapped people only. Do NOT let someone up if they're able to use the stairs."
I said, "I understand how you feel, but I can't ask people if they're handicapped or not."
She said, "Of course you can."
I said, "How can I do that in a way that's not humiliating?"
She said, "Ask them if they are physically able to climb stairs. Only take them up in the elevator if they're not."
To me, this is absurd. My 80-year-old dad is physically CAPABLE of climbing stairs, but he really shouldn't be climbing up four flights. There are lots of people like him.
The landlord is basically absentee, and while he makes lip service about keeping the place accessible (and lists it as such), he doesn't want to antagonize the other company, because they pay a lot more than we do. (The theatre they're using is bigger and nicer.) If we make too big a stink about this, he'll won't let us do shows there in the future, and that would suck for various reasons.
But I'm guessing it's against the law to deny access to people or to ask for proof that they are handicapped (or even to ask for their word that they are). Am I right? If someone can cite chapter and verse of NYC law, that would be helpful. I could show it to their stage manager. She's being pretty harsh and unfair about this, but I doubt she'll knowingly violate the law.