Does accessibility apply to you?
Listen to the audio version by clicking the play button above.
You may be surprised to find it does! When you think of accessibility, what comes to mind?
Do you think of “special” provisions designed to help people who have a disability - things like ramps for wheelchairs and toilets with grab rails?
Of course, good accessibility is most acutely needed by people living with disability - whether temporary or permanent. For them, a lack of accessibility has a far more negative impact than for many.
But if you are not living with an impairment, does accessibility apply to you? Yes, it does.
I am a non-disabled person and get along as one would expect of someone like me; pretty smoothly, without a lot of forward planning needed to carry out day-to-day tasks. However, even with a reasonably high level of functionality, I encounter access challenges on occasion.
Recently I met some friends for dinner at a swanky restaurant to unwind at the end of the week. It was a lovely place. The décor was suitably indulgent to make us feel special after the stresses of a work week. The staff were attentive and the food was fabulous.
There was one problem, though. I nearly did not get into the place. The door into this fine establishment was a standard glass hinged door, but due to a very stiff closer was exceptionally difficult to pull open. After successfully entering the place, I sat facing the door during my meal.
Of course I was engaged in scintillating conversation with my friends, but being an accessibility consultant, couldn’t help noticing that every customer who came to open that door struggled with it.
Even strapping men were caught out because the door put up more resistance than they expected. We were unprepared for the level of the effort needed to get the door open and all had to try twice to budge it.
The rest of the doorway was beautifully accessible with flat access over the threshold, a nice wide opening, and robust film markings across the glass door to make it easily visible.
In this instance, ensuring the door was able to be opened with minimum effort would provide a finishing touch to a no-barrier entrance for anyone with a disability, and would benefit everyone else who battled to get in and out. None of us should be disadvantaged by something as easily remedied as a reluctant door.
This is just one example of how a lack of accessibility can affect all of us. There are many more.