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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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Published: Friday, 12/3/2010

Mulligan needed

Public facilities should be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. It's proper public policy, and it's the law - including at Bowling Green State University's Forrest Creason Golf Course.

Until 1990, disabled Americans led more circumscribed lives than other people. A person in a wheelchair couldn't enter many public places unless he or she was willing to suffer the embarrassment of being carried. Lack of signs in Braille meant blind people had to ask for help to ride an elevator or find a bathroom - which likely wouldn't meet their special needs.

The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 changed that. It opened many public places for the first time to people with disabilities. It ensured disabled people of constitutionally guaranteed equality.

More important, it gave them back their dignity. But the process has not always been smooth; even now, 20 years after the act was signed into law, some facilities have been slow to remove barriers to disabled people.

Michael Miles is paralyzed from the waist down. That hasn't stopped him from pursuing his passion for golf at many courses around the nation, including in northwest Ohio.

What a spinal-cord injury could not do, however, he says BGSU has done by not making facilities at the college-owned golf course wheelchair-accessible. He filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Toledo last week, claiming Forrest Creason violates ADA rules.

Mr. Miles says facilities at the golf course - the public restroom, clubhouse, pro shop, snack shop, and shelters - are off limits to him because they can't accommodate his wheelchair. He says he's been trying without success to get the university to fix the problems since 1992.

The 18-hole, par-72 golf course on the BGSU campus was designed and built in the mid-1960s. It is an integral part of the tax-supported university.

Publicly owned golf courses - and some private ones - have to comply with the ADA, which says that new or altered facilities must be usable by people with disabilities. BGSU spent much of the past two decades constructing and retrofitting campus buildings to accommodate disabled students, parents, faculty, and others. Why the golf course was not addressed is a mystery.

Forrest Creason provides more than healthy physical exercise for students. It is an important link between the college, community, and alumni who golf there. Making the golf course accessible to people with disabilities would enhance these contributions.

Whether the golf course is accessible to disabled people is easily determined. If it's not disabled-friendly, penalty strokes aren't necessary. BGSU should ask for a mulligan and commit to solving the problem - soon.



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