Disabled woman fights for curbside trash pickup

May 1, 2008 7:35:54 PM PDT
It's a chore we all detest -- dragging out those 50-gallon garbage cans every week. However, for some of us it can be a lot harder than for others.

For disabled people trying to live independently, every little obstacle can become a big one. That's what happened to a Bay Area woman who had to fight for her life and now struggles to live without anybody's help.

Priscilla McIntire nearly died from complications of a surgery four years ago. It took her two years to walk again.

"They thought I would end up being bedridden," says Priscilla.

She gets around now with just a cane, but it's not easy. Especially when it comes to taking out the garbage. It's a chore we all dread, and that she dreads more.

"I can only use one arm to carry and I lose my balance very easily," says Priscilla.

Luckily, Priscilla never had far to go -- just out the side door and down to the curb. But one day the garbage company suddenly got tough.

"They said on the note that unless the garbage cans were in front of the house, they would not be picked up," says Priscilla.

The garbage collector taped a note to her trash cans. From now on Priscilla would have to drag them all the way around the corner to the front about half a block. Otherwise there would be no pickup.

"They said well that's where they have to be and I said I can't do it," says Priscilla. "Three weeks ago they didn't pick up the garbage and I called and said you forgot me."

Priscilla applied for an exemption. What she got was another warning.

"After the second note I called channel 7 On Your Side," says Priscilla.

"You do have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act," says Diane Rovai of the Independent Living Center.

Rovai says Priscilla's situation isn't uncommon, and by law, trash companies must help.

"Because having your trash picked up -- you have to do it, you don't have a choice," says Rovai.

We contacted Waste Management and it said the street where Priscilla was putting her cans is actually on a different route than the one serving her home. However, the company did grant an exemption and sent word to the drivers. Now Priscilla can leave her trash right where she can pull it, without anybody's help.

"It's not easy, but I can do it," says Priscilla.

If you have a disability and can't take out the trash or can't use some other public service, the agencies should have a process to make adjustments for you. Waste Management did have a process. It just took a little while to get the paperwork done for Priscilla.

Links:

ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)

Independent Living Resource Center


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