Disabled man upset after initially being told he could not be accommodated at downtown park

Disabled man upset after initially being told he could not be accommodated at downtown park

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A disabled man is upset after he was told numerous times he could not use the power outlets at Fountain Square to plug in his oxygen machine.Last Wednesday, Henry Parkel of Golf Manor went to reggae night at Fountain Square. He just got his first motorized wheelchair the week before. “My first trip, I said, in my new chair would be to Fountain Square. What other place to show off something like this,” he joked. Parkel said he showed up an hour early to get a good spot and make sure he found a place to plug in his oxygen machine, which only lasts a couple hours without power. “We went to the electrical outlets and to our surprise, none of them worked,” he said. Parkel said he approached a 3CDC staff member and was told electrical outlets are not for the public. He explained that he needs his oxygen tank to breathe then asked another staffer and was told the same thing.Then he asked for a manager. “She said sir, we do not allow people to use our electricity,” Parkel said. “I came down there to have a good time, and I do feel with my disability that there should be some accommodations for me because I am a citizen of Cincinnati, and I once was a taxpayer and this is a public square.”Parkel said when he pushed back, he was eventually allowed to plug in. “She ended up getting an extension cord, running it from the bar,” he said. “She made it known: don’t do it again ’cause we won’t be able to accommodate you.”Parkel said he was hurt.”Someone would have a heart. It’s just that was so cold,” he said. “Just because I’m in this chair and on oxygen, I don’t want it to be a death sentence. I want to enjoy life to the fullest as much as I can.”A 3CDC spokesman told WLWT moving forward Parkel and others will be accommodated. The spokesman called the incident a “learning experience” and an opportunity to make sure all staff members, including seasonal staff members, are aware how to handle similar situations and provide simple accommodations to guests with disabilities.Patrick Ober, Disability Rights and Advocacy Specialist at the Center For Independent Living Option said there are gray areas within the Americans with Disabilities Act.”It’s not a black and white issue, a clear cut issue of whether something is against the law or in compliance with the law,” said Ober. “We often are dealing with situations where there’s a lack of training or awareness about the flexibility that people have when they’re trying to accommodate someone with a disability.” A 3CDC spokesman said anyone needing accommodations should check in at a concessions stand or staff member to make their request.A statement from Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services said: “The accessibility of public spaces is incredibly important for people with disabilities. Increasing accessibility requires continual effort from all of us to recognize opportunities for improvement, engage with advocates, and work together to ensure that our region can be a leader in accessibility for everyone. Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services is always eager to work with organizations in our community on ways to improve access.”Anyone wishing to report a possible ADA violation can contact Disability Rights Ohio.

A disabled man is upset after he was told numerous times he could not use the power outlets at Fountain Square to plug in his oxygen machine.

Last Wednesday, Henry Parkel of Golf Manor went to reggae night at Fountain Square. He just got his first motorized wheelchair the week before.

“My first trip, I said, in my new chair would be to Fountain Square. What other place to show off something like this,” he joked.

Parkel said he showed up an hour early to get a good spot and make sure he found a place to plug in his oxygen machine, which only lasts a couple hours without power.

“We went to the electrical outlets and to our surprise, none of them worked,” he said.

Parkel said he approached a 3CDC staff member and was told electrical outlets are not for the public. He explained that he needs his oxygen tank to breathe then asked another staffer and was told the same thing.

Then he asked for a manager.

“She said sir, we do not allow people to use our electricity,” Parkel said. “I came down there to have a good time, and I do feel with my disability that there should be some accommodations for me because I am a citizen of Cincinnati, and I once was a taxpayer and this is a public square.”

Parkel said when he pushed back, he was eventually allowed to plug in.

“She ended up getting an extension cord, running it from the bar,” he said. “She made it known: don’t do it again ’cause we won’t be able to accommodate you.”

Parkel said he was hurt.

“Someone would have a heart. It’s just that was so cold,” he said. “Just because I’m in this chair and on oxygen, I don’t want it to be a death sentence. I want to enjoy life to the fullest as much as I can.”

A 3CDC spokesman told WLWT moving forward Parkel and others will be accommodated. The spokesman called the incident a “learning experience” and an opportunity to make sure all staff members, including seasonal staff members, are aware how to handle similar situations and provide simple accommodations to guests with disabilities.

Patrick Ober, Disability Rights and Advocacy Specialist at the Center For Independent Living Option said there are gray areas within the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“It’s not a black and white issue, a clear cut issue of whether something is against the law or in compliance with the law,” said Ober. “We often are dealing with situations where there’s a lack of training or awareness about the flexibility that people have when they’re trying to accommodate someone with a disability.”

A 3CDC spokesman said anyone needing accommodations should check in at a concessions stand or staff member to make their request.

A statement from Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services said: “The accessibility of public spaces is incredibly important for people with disabilities. Increasing accessibility requires continual effort from all of us to recognize opportunities for improvement, engage with advocates, and work together to ensure that our region can be a leader in accessibility for everyone. Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services is always eager to work with organizations in our community on ways to improve access.”

Anyone wishing to report a possible ADA violation can contact Disability Rights Ohio.

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