More on the Restroom Access Act.
Last week I shared the story of teenager Ally Bain who (along with her mother and Illinois state Rep. Kathleen Ryg) worked to pass a law that provides access to normally restricted restrooms for those with certain medical conditions such as IBD, Crohns and Colitis. This law, now known as Ally's Law, has gone on to be passed in several other states, and is being considered by the state legislators of at least 8 others. A national law is a distinct possibility.
Ohio is one of the states currently considering this legislation, and as a disabled person with Colitis I look forward to its passage with an even greater degree of anticipation than most. If there is anything more distressing than having a form of IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) it would have to be having IBD along with a disability which impairs your mobility.
For those who are unaware, IBD (along with Colitis and Crohns) causes a sudden and uncontrollable need to use the restroom, often with unpleasant results if such access is unavailable. It affects your life in a very insidious way, often forcing you to plan your daily activities based almost entirely on the location and availability of public restrooms. Since developing Colitis over 20 years ago, I have not been to a single sporting/stadium event. Outdoor events like our annual "Rib-Off" are also problematic. Independence Day firework displays? Forget it.
This is what makes Ally's Law so important. I have been where Ally was, and it's no picnic. On more than one occasion I have been denied access to a readily available restroom because "it's for employees only" or "our insurance forbids it." I have had to abandon a cart filled with merchandise in the store while I rushed out in search of a nearby restaurant, just to use their public restroom. Rarely did I feel like returning for my abandoned items. I wonder if anyone has ever calculated the loss to a business due to refusal to allow bathroom access? I'm betting the cost is higher than one might suspect.
So we need Ally's Law, and we need it on a national level. I plan to get involved with this issue... starting right here in Ohio... and then I'm moving on from there. I hope I can count on your support when this comes up for a vote where you live.
Next week: Ally's Law part three, where I discuss other disabilities, and how they too deserve inclusion under the protective umbrella of the Restroom Access Act. Until then, please feel free to share my blog with others. It's just one man's opinion, but it's where I sit. :)