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When OTs Wore White Shoes

Taking Dad Fishing

Published July 28, 2015 12:32 PM by Debra Karplus
Last weekend, we took Dad fishing - a sport that he has always enjoyed since he was a young boy who fished with his father. In Dad's younger years, he especially enjoyed fishing from a boat, and has fond memories of yearly trips up to the north woods of Minnesota where he and a bunch of his buddies enjoyed a week of rustic accommodations, fishing from boats, and eating their fresh caught walleye which was prepared and fried for them.

But these days, Dad is moving a little slower (and for that matter, so am I). So, we took him to a small pond managed by the city park district near his house. We have seen other people fishing there, and no signs that say that fishing is prohibited, so presumably the park district expects that people will use the lake for fishing. We have seen people catch good-sized blue gills at this little lake.

We were able to legitimately use Dad's handicapped parking sticker, so we had no trouble finding an easy spot to put the car. And once we got out of the car, there were curb cuts in reasonable places, so Dad could use his rolling walker to walk from the parking spot to the curb. But that's where the challenge began. 

I carefully perused the lake area and was unable to find any ramp or accessible place of any kind for fishing, nor could I find any safe way to get Dad from the curb to the lake. So we carefully guarded Dad on each side as he walked through lumpy grass with deep pits in it, so that we could set a lawn chair near the lake for him and his fish poles. The outing was a success, measured by the pole-bending fish that he caught - which he then quickly and compassionately threw back into the water.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been an incredible piece of legislation signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in the early 1990s. It has helped millions of Americans with disabilities in the employment arena, but also in their communities: shopping, public transportation, and recreation. But our experience taking Dad fishing made me question if the passing of the ADA is just a small baby step toward making life easier for people with permanent or even temporary disabilities, such as the one Dad has right now.

I would enjoy hearing from readers some of the challenges they might have had with matters pertaining to holes in the ADA.

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