Abstract

Although occupational therapists try to help their wheelchair-bound clients reenter the community or maintain independence, many facilities’ noncompliance with accessibility standards makes such planning difficult. In the present study, a survey was used to investigate the wheelchair accessibility of 20 grocery and convenience stores. The results of the survey indicated that the types of stores with greatest accessibility, in descending order, were (a) rural grocery stores, (b) urban grocery stores, (c) urban convenience stores, and (d) rural convenience stores. No overall differences were found between the urban and rural stores. The types of deficiencies found and their effects on clients’ shopping are described.

A follow-up study was conducted to see if the store managers, who were sent letters notifying them of their stores’ deficiencies, would correct these problems. Six months after notification, the survey was repeated. Five of the 20 managers made changes in specific deficient areas, whereas the remaining 15 made no changes. The survey results and the fact that 25% of the stores made changes after receipt of a letter indicate that occupational therapists can be effective advocates for accessibility and thus provide a vital link to productive living for persons in wheelchairs.

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