OSF goes beyond the call to help

I heard that someone with a handicap — such as with a wheelchair or walker — can move to the front of a restroom line. An usher at Oregon Shakespeare Festival moved me to the front of the line because I use a wheelchair. Of course, I got a couple dirty looks, but the usher said there's a law. What is this law?

— Anne, Ashland

No one told our bosses this, but we here at Since You Asked headquarters are no fans of dirty looks, either.

Like you, Anne, we wanted to know what the law has to say about wheelchair users and others who have walking impairments. When searches on the Americans with Disabilities Act website turned fruitless, we reached out to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for more information, and it put us in touch with Alayha McNamara, interim access coordinator at OSF.

There's a reason the law was hard to find.

"It isn't a law," McNamara said. "At the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, we try to accommodate wheelchair patrons."

McNamara explained that OSF ushers and volunteers as a policy give priority to those with special needs.

"We try to give priority to patrons in wheelchairs," she said.

McNamara also said that OSF's policy is fairly common.

"Most organizations feel that patrons with accessible needs should have priority," she said.

McNamara wasn't sure where the individual who assisted you heard that giving you priority in a restroom was a law.

"They're not told it's a law," McNamara said. "I'm not sure why the volunteer or usher said that."

She clarified that no OSF staff are told that the accessibility policy is a law.

"They are trained to be as helpful as possible to help our patrons with disability needs," she added.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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