There is no greater disability in a society than the inability to see a person as more.
– Robert M. Hensel
When it comes to talking about disabilities even today there is a fear of saying the wrong thing, especially when talking to people who have a disability.
It’s this fear that has us avoiding the important conversations surrounding disability and this avoidance in turn can create a toxic environment.
Many disabled people experience discrimination on a regular basis. They are routinely denied the rights we all know they are entitled to. In truth, they are asked to be a part of a world that isn’t designed for them.
On this international day of persons with disabilities, the theme is “Building back better towards a disability-inclusive, accessible, and the sustainable post-COVID-19 world” What we want to do is highlight some of the challenges individuals with disabilities face today… Accessibility!
For many of us, we don’t need to think about how we can get around, use the elevator, the public restroom, or gain access to the office. But for those with disabilities, these daily tasks can become complicated and difficult due to poorly designed spaces.
How to Make Life Accessible for All:
Provide Access Information:
Information on accessibility for a number of services (venues, accommodation, retail, transport, etc.) should be on your website. This makes it much easier for those with disabilities.
Disabled people often have to plan their outings in advance, so this is vital.
Information on this could include:
- How to book accessible tickets, accommodation, staff assistance
- Location of disabled parking
- Location of disabled toilets
- Dedicated contact number for customers with disabilities (making it easier for them again)
Think Before You Start:
When it comes to a new build or a remodel, think of your end-user there. An end-user is the person who will be using the space. They could be a staff member, a customer, or a family/friend. What are their individual needs?
- Wider doorways
- Accessible toilets such as the changing places facilities
- Elevators and stairs
- Disabled parking
- Adequate lighting
- Adjustable worktops (counters and tables etc.)
- Lower light switches
- Automatic doors or lower door handles
Be In The Know:
One of the most important aspects of making life more accessible is to make sure you are in the know.
You could liaise with disabled people about their experience with you and ask them to provide detailed information on how to better improve.
This can be done easily by asking face-to-face or even having a comments box that is easily accessible by all.
Whether you run a retail store, manage an office, or oversee venues and events you need to train your staff. It can be obvious to disabled people who has or hasn’t trained their staff. Training could include:
- Communication strategies
- Disability or visual awareness training
- Sighted guiding
- What to do when help is needed in the disabled restrooms (the red cord is pulled)
With 13% of Ireland’s population living with a disability (that’s’ over 600,000 people), we need to make a conscious effort to change and adapt how we live in order to have equality and accessibility for all.
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