When should accessibility concern you? Accessibility means “easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use.” If you live long enough, at some point accessibility will become a major concern in your life. If this is the case, then why do we not prioritize promoting accessibility in all aspects of life? It is often the case that when accessibility is the norm, then it benefits all members of society, not just the disability community.
A recent study was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that revealed 1 in 4 American adults (or 61 million people) have a disability. That is a lot of people! The study only counted adults, which means that the number is actually higher! According to the study, the two most common disabilities are related to mobility and cognition. Therefore, accessibility should be a priority in all of our communities.
Let’s take a moment and consider some common accessibility norms that members of society have come to expect. Sidewalk cutouts, which are usually evident on street corners and provide nice ramps from street level to curb height, are common throughout many cities. Could you imagine the frustration of pushing a baby stroller down sidewalks without sidewalk cutouts? As another example, the vast majority of cell phones have texting capabilities, which enable users of texting to communicate via text rather than voice. Take a moment to remember the last time you did not prefer to text someone or did not have that capability. Texting makes a difference! Both of the previous examples are standard practices in the disability community that have become worldwide norms.
1 in 4 people become disabled
Since we agree that becoming a person with a disability is highly likely, then should we not become more concerned when accessibility is not a priority? Nothing is more frustrating than visiting a building and not having access to get into the building or not being able to take advantage of public transportation, such as subway trains or buses. Just to be clear, accessibility goes beyond being able to gain access into a building or being transported – accessibility is about having access to life.
A few examples of what should be accepted accessibility norms are customer service video chats; loop systems, which enable hearing aid users to hear, in all public facilities; service animals; accessible playground equipment; and wheelchair-friendly airplanes or enhanced vehicular transports. If all of these became the norm, then everyone benefits.
Is accessibility a concern for you? If not, then you may want to reconsider your position because one day you may become the person seeking access. Therefore, I encourage you to become a proponent for making accessibility the norm in society rather than being the exception. Together we all benefit.
Stephen Taylor, Founder of SNs360