Posts tagged ‘accessibility’

November 6, 2016

#508 – Architectually and Accessibly Speaking


As you may or may not know, this blog has recently been revived. Below, is an excerpt from a Twitter conversation I had saved, but never published.

I didn’t know about the public hearings prior to construction of the Grandview Aquatic Centre, but if I had, I would have added my voice.

It’s tough enough when you move through the world differently, whether it be in a wheelchair, with a cane, or on your own steam.

When architects and communities get it right, the system blurs the lines between the able-bodied and those who live with a disability – the diffabled. At first glance, the Walking Disabled may present the appearance that there is nothing wrong. As a result, people zoom to assume – judgement can be quick. “You don’t look disabled, why do you need extra help/special assistance?” What they may not realize is that a hip replacement, dislocated fingers, or painful joints make it difficult to do some of those “ordinary” things.

The Corporation of Delta got it right in with the ramp in The Sunshine Pool at Sungod Recreation Centre. During my swims, I’ve seen people use the ramps in a number of different ways – in wheelchairs and with canes. Young and old, able-bodied and diffabled. They’ve all spent time on the ramp. Then, there’s me. I jump into the pool in the deep end and use the ramp to get out of the pool. I don’t have to call anyone for help, I just get out.

Isn’t that the pinnacle of self-reliance? Architectural designs that don’t require “special” assistance or attention in order to be accessible.

March 5, 2013

#418 – Open for Business

Image courtesy of Michael Lorenzo.

Image courtesy of Michael Lorenzo.

If you run a bricks and mortar business or service, here are some things to check on that will make a difference in the life of someone who struggles to get in, get out and get doing. Some of these ideas are pretty easy to accomplish, others take time, money and thought,

  1. If your building is accessible by an automatic door, make sure the button to open the door is operational.
  2. The doors to handicapped washrooms are often very heavy. Consider putting in some sort of push button system to open them.
  3. Are you putting in stairs to access a parking lot? A ramp is so much more versatile and accessible for everyone. (Watch for a future post, where I’ll share the success (or failure) of my attempt to advocate for a ramp at a nearby mall.)
  4. Are you opening a new office in an existing space? The requirements of your population  may not adequately be covered by existing legislation. Make some time to talk with the associations and societies that service various groups. Read some blogs to find out what needs are being expressed.
  5. Keep your check-out counter clear of clutter, so that a purse/wallet could be opened. I’ve heard moms, seniors and mobility-challenged people all express their frustration at the lack of space at the cashier’s desk. This also applies to the shelf at the bank machine, as well as the envelope holder.
  6. Many businesses have mats at the front door. These often present tripping hazards because they are curled up or in bad shape. They should be regularly checked throughout the day.
  7. Are you putting in a couch or chairs for your customers or clients? Ensure that the seat cushions are firm, and not so low to the floor that you practically need a hoist to get up.
  8. Teach and empower your employees to err on the side of kindness and consideration. If someone asks for help opening a water bottle, or carrying an item to the car, assume that she is asking because it is difficult for her to do. (It’s hard enough asking for help on a continual basis, without then having to explain oneself, over and over again.)
  9. Comment cards can provide insight into the needs of your customers and clients, provided that you read them. Feedback can help hone/define/improve your services and accessibility. Unfortunately, this one fell on deaf ears – pun intended. But, I like to think that this one made a difference.)

The other thing to keep in mind is that accessibility is not only for someone who is disabled or diffabled. Parents minding their children, someone who may be in a situation that is acute—temporary, or seniors, many of whom need a little extra time and help, would all benefit from these modifications.

There’s an African proverb that states that it takes a village to raise a child. I also think that it takes a village to improve the lot for all of us who live in that village.  We may end up being the person who benefits. I recall someone I know who vociferously complained about handicapped parking . . . until he was suddenly thrust into the position of requiring it.

You’ll never know when things can change, and you or a family member might be requiring services that were previously not in your vocabulary.

July 11, 2012

Locked Out!

I have been denied access to the handicapped washroom on two different occasions, at two different, internationally-recognized restaurants. In both cases, the handicapped washroom was locked. The first time it happened, I was told by the cashier that the washroom was out-0f-service. I knew that it wasn’t, just by the look on her face. When I explained that I needed the handicapped toilet because I didn’t want to exceed ninety degrees with my new hip, she relented and handed over the key.

In the second restaurant, I was simply told that it was for handicapped people. Again, I had to go through the explanation, before the key was passed over to me.

I understand that the cashiers were doing what they thought was the right thing – keeping the washroom free for what they thought handicapped people would look like. However, if someone asks for the key to the handicapped washroom, I don’t think it is necessary to provide an explanation detailing one’s disability.

Needless to say, I followed up with letters to the branch offices of both establishments explaining that not all disabled people are in wheelchairs. Thankfully, I haven’t had a problem since then.

Have you ever encountered something similar?

April 8, 2012

Shelfish Room for Improvement

Crowded counter.

Those of us who may move a little slower or struggle with mobility are familiar with the juggling act that takes place at the check-out counter.

Frequently, the cash register and the cashier are hidden behind any number of last-minute items. You know the things you don’t really need, but the store owners are hoping will catch your fancy.

I was raised in a home that honoured time. We didn’t waste ours, nor anyone else’s. I still carry this with me, to this day.

This is apparent when I stand in the check-out line. I’m the one who is unzipping my purse and getting out the requisite cards while the person ahead of me is in the process of paying for their purchases.

I feel like I’m doing my part, helping the line move a little more quickly. However, I’m often thwarted in my time-saving attempts because it is difficult to get my cards out when there isn’t anywhere to rest my purse, nevermind the items I wish to buy.

I would love to see more room at the check-out counter in all retail locations. Barring that, I suggest that retailers consider doing what Denny’s has done, as you can see in this picture here.

What do you think? Would this be helpful to you? Do you think it would speed up the check-out process if you had an opportunity to get ready before reaching the cashier?

Pull Out Shelf

This shelf pulls out, as needed. Brilliant!

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