What is Accessibility?
Let’s ask Wikipedia…
Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities.
The concept focuses on enabling access for people with disabilities, or special needs, or enabling access through the use of assistive technology; however, research and development in accessibility brings benefits to everyone.
Accessibility is strongly related to universal design which is the process of creating products that are usable by people with the widest possible range of abilities, operating within the widest possible range of situations. This is about making things accessible to all people, whether they have a disability or not.
Why should you care...
Chances are if you don’t currently have a disability; you or someone you know will have one at some point in your life. Now we don’t say this to scare you or predict some sort of doom and gloom, we say it because everyone will at some point benefit from an accessible world! Maybe because of an injury, an illness, or something that happened from birth; or maybe old age will reduce your mobility. The point is, beyond being thoughtful of the rest of society, don’t you want things to be easier when you need them instead of after the fact?
Accessible design will not only allow people of all abilities access and enjoyment of everything our city has to offer, but will also create a more productive society with a larger workforce that is more independent.
A common mistake can be to automatically think about visible disabilities but we must not forget the ones we can’t see; debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments.
Accessible living can have many different meanings and take on many different forms. Each situation must be treated separately; for some accessibility could mean living in a condo with door openers and covered parking. Someone with hearing impairment may need a system to warn of a fire, and someone bound to a walker or wheelchair may need a grab bar or roll-in shower. Everyone is unique, and each disability presents its own set of unique challenges.