There is a law that goes virtually unenforced in Leesville. The law I speak of is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
I am legally blind but I still walk about 3-5 miles a day around Leesville.
When I do I often walk on the side of the street because there are very few sidewalks for me to walk on. When a car approaches me I move to the side of the road with my cane visible to the driver to signal that I am visually impaired.
Unfortunately, many cars passing by will honk at me and yell at me to get out of the road or call me names.
It is obvious that most of the people in Leesville do not know what they are supposed to do when they encounter someone blind walking in the street.
It’s not only the cars and people passing me by.
I also encounter many situations around town that are not ADA compliant that are a hazard to me.
I have suffered several falls resulting in broken bones and chronic pain. Last November I slipped and fell while walking along the grass and dirt path to enter Myrtle Park from Anderson Street.
When I fell I hit my face on a rock and was knocked unconscious with a broken nose. I don’t know exactly how long I layed in the ditch before I came to and crawled out into the street before I was able to get back up.
In an effort to help me my son spray painted rocks and markers along the path to help guide me but they were either removed by the city or washed away by the rain.
Most recently while walking along my street I stumbled after running into the trash bin left in the street then tripped over a barbell someone had put in the road to be collected with the garbage.
When I got up I knocked on the door and asked the resident to please move the bin and barbell from the street because it was a violation for it to actually be in the street, plus it was a hazard to me. The resident screamed profanities at me and called the police.
The officer who came threatened to put me in handcuffs after he repeatedly told me to “stand over there” and I didn’t move. I explained that I was blind and did not see where he was pointing but that did not stop him from being rude and unsympathetic to my situation.
I know some things are easy to fix and others are harder, especially when there is no money to fix them.
But something has to be done to educate everyone about what to do when encountering someone with a disability.
I am not the only resident in Leesville with a disability. Also, there are so many streets in Leesville that are not ADA compliant.
I have a difficult time walking downtown because of the steps and lack of proper curbs to cross the street.
Since June, I have been in contact with Governor Edwards’ office, Representatives, Senators and the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to try and create an ADA Compliance Enforcement position locally.
We have inspectors and enforcement officers for nearly everything else in Louisiana, why not this too?
Also, next time you pass me or someone with a disability, how about you have a little more respect and not shout profanities at me because you do not know what to do.