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When you are abled life can be frustrating sometimes becasue we all have our own struggles but when you have a disability it’s different because disabled people are forced to live in a world not designed for us. Accessibility matters and sometimes I think people are not accessible because they don’t care and no one has ever called them out on it while other times I think people legitimately think they are accessible but are so far from it. As a society, we have made a lot of progress toward making the world more accessible for disabled people but we still have a long way to go because many places still have unnecessary barriers or don’t even bother to be accessible. People sometimes think that accessibility ends with having a ramp and although a ramp is necessary for some disabled people it doesn’t end there. In this post, I am going to talk about five things that need to change to make the world more accessible for disabled people.
Churches should not be excluded from accessibility– A doctor’s office and pretty much any public place are required by law to follow ADA’s accessibility guidelines but if you are a church or any religious organization you are exempt from that and do not have to follow the ADA. I don’t know who thought it was a great idea to exempt churches because no one should be exempt and it’s a law that we need to change. Disabled people often do not go to church and it’s mostly because churches aren’t accessible but I don’t see that changing unless there is a law that quite literally forces them to. I don’t know if not requiring churches to be accessible is a way of getting people out of the church but it’s wrong because there is a difference between not wanting to and not being able to. I am not a fan of the ADA guidelines because it’s not true accessibility but something is better than nothing and we need to be holding churches to the same accessibility standards as you would your doctor’s office. .
Start putting handles on jars- When you have a physical disability carrying a big jar is a serious struggle because most jars are physically too wide to fit your hand around which wouldn’t be an issue for most people but when you use assistive devices it gets in the way. When I walk I need to be able to put my hand firmly on the crutch handle but sometimes I can’t do that because the thing I am carrying is too large and is taking up all the space I wish people could understand how hard it is to transfer things when you have a physical disability and it would be amazing if companies at least attempted to make their containers easier to grip. There are going to be some types of containers where adding a handle would not work but in most cases, you can which would make transferring things a lot less risky and easier for people with physical disabilities. A large jar is handy because you don’t have to replace it as often but it’s not practical for people with physical disabilities and often it just leads to more barriers.
Put readable braille on every product- I need to use glasses to read because I don’t have 20/20 vision but I am thankful that I can see because the blind community has even more barriers. If you were blind there are apps that can help describe things so you can be more independent but from what I heard they don’t always describe things accurately. Some blind people are not going to be able to read braille but there are a lot of people that do and there should be readable braille on everything product that you buy so people who do speak that language can understand what product they are buying without needing help. I cannot read braille because there is no reason that I need to but I have learned enough from advocates to know that there is no braille on a vast majority of products you buy and if there is it’s not very readable because the bumps often are very faint and not clear enough. It would be so helpful if people started putting braille on every product because it would give people that cannot see more independence.
Make doors wide enough– The biggest struggle you have when you are physically disabled is that doors often are not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. When disabled people buy houses often people have to buy the house and then pay for a full renovation because it’s not a livable environment for disabed people which can end up costing double the amount you would have to pay if you were abled. It would nearly impossible to design homes that were accommodating for every disability because each disabled person has different needs but at the bare minimum the doorway should be large enough to accommodate a bigger wheelchair. You can’t even go to your doctor’s office and easily get into an exam room because often it’s a standard size and the only people that could do it are those with small chairs but even then sometimes you have to move things around. Wheelchair users sometimes have to take separate entrances to access a building but we wouldn’t have to do that if you made your doorway a little bit larger than standard size.
Make sure your elevator is working all the time– Buildings that have two-stories should have an elevator because not all disabled people are able to walk up a flight of stairs. Elevator maintenance can be expensive but it’s not a luxury for disabled people and is necessary. I can remember going to a neurologist appointment and the elevator being down which they knew but failed to call any of their patients. If you are elevator is down and you don’t know about that is one thing but to know it’s down and not tell anyone about it until they arrive is inconsiderate of someone else’s time because some for some people just getting to a ten-minute appointment is an all-day afare. I was lucky that I went with my mom that day because I would have been very irritated if I went to an appointment that I couldn’t get to because I would have had to pay money for an appointment I could have done at home. Make sure that your elevator is working most if not all of the time because disabled people rely on elevators to get to the second or third floor and if it’s down we often are stuck.
Label products in larger fonts- I wear glasses and can see some things without them but it’s very blurry without them and usually if I want to read something with my glasses I have to squint. If you have looked at your shampoo and conditioner bottle lately you may notice that these companies have a bad habit of labeling their products in the smallest font. Do people not realize that the only people who can read these labels while in the shower are those with perfect vision? Shampoo companies need to start labeling their products in a larger font because people who use glasses can’t actually read the label in the shower. The only reason I have not mixed up my shampoo and conditioner is because I put each bottle on different ends of the shower so I don’t mix them up but if the font was a little bit larger I would not have this problem. I don’t know understand why companies have not realized this because it doesn’t seem like it would be very hard to do.
Accessibility matters for disabled people and I like to think that some people are starting to see the importance of accessibility but we still have a long way to go. Some places like churches are not accessible because they don’t have to be but accessibility should not be something that you only do if there are laws to make you do it and people should want to be inclusive to the disabled community. Accessibility matters for disabled people because we can’t just work our way around inaccessibility like abled-bodied people expect us to and if it’s not accessible enough disabled people can’t function. If you are abled and are trying to be as accessible as possible sometimes it can be hard to know but you can learn more by talking to disabled people that live through the challenges. Accessibility matters for disabled people but unfortunately not everyone sees it that way and sometimes people think that advocating for more accessibility is negativity but it’s not negativity and all disabled people want is accessibility. These are only a small fraction of the things I think we should do to improve accessibility and there are so many things that need to change that I couldn’t list them all. What do you think we need to change to improve accessibility?
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