Some thoughts on “accessibility”

17 05 2008

A couple nights ago, I attended a wonderful workshop about the meaning of “accessibility” and how it relates to disability and other issues. Well, it was an eye-opener, to say the least.

When people think of something being “accessible”, they generally think of it having wheelchair ramps and the like. Or sign language interpreters. Stuff like that.

As I learned, it means a lot more.

I think back to my own experiences; during any prolonged event that’s either loud or crowded, I need to take periodic breaks somewhere quiet(ish) and not crowded. Otherwise I can get pretty overwhelmed.

I was at an event last year (a dance for LGBT high schoolers and their allies), and overall, I had a pretty good time, except for the fact that everytime I went outside to take a break, there were people congregating outside, smoking up. I guess it wasn’t a huge problem, except the sheer amount of people made it harder to “decompress”.

That’s the thing. Something being accessible means it’s open and welcoming to everyone – and that means taking everybody’s needs into account. It can be pretty difficult (especially when people have conflicting needs), but it’s worth it in the long run. It makes things better for everyone, even if they don’t have an obvious disability – because when something is designed with people’s needs in mind, it becomes a lot more comfortable and easier for everyone. Take automatic doors, for example – they’re really good if you use a wheelchair or crutches, but also if you have a baby in a stroller, or are carrying an armful of books. There are countless other examples of situations like this.

What are your thoughts on the meaning of “accessibility”?

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4 responses

17 05 2008
Tirade

I think you pretty well covered it in my mind.

For instance, your need to get out every now and then (one I share, BTW.) is something that a claustrophobe might need too.

17 05 2008
queerunity

I never thought about it, but I am glad you provoked me to. I think any way we can make the world more accessible, more friendly, and happier is certainly a good thing and should be encouraged.

18 05 2008
nowhereman_76

Just remember that the term *accessible* can be published based on minimum standards (requirements) met (the 1999 Canadians for DIsabilitiy Act), not a broad term of *usabilitly*. Being *accessible* is more of a P.R. “Gimmic” for corporations, public entities, etc. who want to put the good word out there, rather than actually aiding the individuals or groups who need various forms of alternative access to these places.

For example, walking with a cain for 2+ years of my life (I do not anymore), ramps could not help me, they just made walking slightly easier. Although you have some significantly valid points, remember the term *Accessibility* is now a PR tool. The only true 100% accessible places are hospitals, federal offices, and various charity houses (CNIB) that cater towards specific disabilties.

Good Points though . . . .

Take Care….

18 05 2008
Brianne

Accessibility is…
A lot of things…you’ve covered much of it, but it also means being able to access a variety of resources and not being restricted from the knowledge that you need in order to lead an independent and safe life.

Being asthmatic, accessibility is being able to have my medication with me at all times so that I don’t have to go up or down a set of stairs AND wait fifteen minutes in line behind a kid with a scratch and someone who was misbehaving outside to get my puffer from the main office.

I’ve had THREE close calls because of that formality.

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