By Kara Kahnke, Community Advocate
Photo by Loren Worthington
I believe self-advocacy is crucial to living with a disability. It is important that we are able to educate the community about disability issues to ensure that our needs are being met Recently, I was delighted to learn that my local Starbucks was being remodeled. However, after the remodel, the majority of the new tables were high-top tables that made the store less accessible to wheelchair users. After I contacted the Starbucks customer service line, the district manager for that store called to discuss the issue. She said that she understood my concern about the remodel alienating wheelchair users. I told her I was particularly concerned because the location is right across the street from a light rail stop, and near a gym built for people with disabilities. The district manager took action. Now that site has an ADA-accessible table and three additional smaller accessible tables to accommodate the needs of customers with disabilities.
In another instance, I also helped ensure that a pothole obstructing a curb cut near my home was repaired to make the street accessible. After receiving a delayed response from the City of Tempe, I reminded them that failing to provide accessible curb cuts is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They repaired the pothole the next day! I get special satisfaction each time my wheelchair drives over the repaired spot in the street. I enjoy advocating to improve my life and the lives of others. I hope to continue to improve my community, even if it’s a few tables or one pothole at a time!
Learn more about Ability360’s Advocacy programs and presentations: (602) 443-0738
Kara Kahnke has cerebral palsy. She is a community advocate and holds a bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in counseling from Arizona State University. She has volunteered at Ability360 since 2012, and received Ability360’s Mentor Match of the Year award because her mentor partnership accomplished her goal of learning to cook independently. She plans to become a Peer Mentor at Ability360 to inspire others to self-advocate and live as independently as possible.