Despite there being numerous advances made over the years regarding accessible design, there are still fundamental flaws that remain unaddressed. Even with new disability laws being introduced every few months, awareness campaigns being held frequently, and new technology being developed every day – millions of people still encounter accessibility difficulties in their daily lives. That’s why it’s so important that we continuously raise awareness on the subject and seriously consider how we can improve facilities, so people don’t feel ostracized from society.
For those living with a disability, it can often be quite a challenge when it comes to heading out for the day. Pre-planning often becomes a crucial part of everyday life, with various aspects of their day having to be considered. In many cases, disability access has been thought of, but it has not been designed correctly – for example, many wheelchair ramps often are inaccessible due to a step at the bottom of the ramp or the incline is too steep.
Other problems include poorly designed restaurants, mainly feat9uring fixed seating, high counters, tables and chairs that can make for an awkward dynamic. Those with sight impairments may also find it difficult to read menus, signs or maps that use small fonts and don’t have a suitable color contrast, making some avoid the location altogether.
In many cases, a simple change in layout can make a world of difference, such as to create an aisle wider or provide room for a ramp. Many companies are beginning to understand the importance of accessible design and therefore are making changes; however, it still seems to be a slow process.
Companies are now opting to install platform lifts and stair lifts instead of ramps as they are much more convenient, especially for those who are traveling in wheelchairs alone. Other changes seen in recent years include an increase the use of braille in shops, restaurants, and other public areas; this makes it so much easier for those with impaired sight to read menus, signs and other important documents.
The law surrounding accessible restrooms is unclear and general, leading to varied understanding with building professionals. It states that businesses are required to make reasonable adjustments, which is not specific enough – especially for those with little knowledge surrounding the topic.
Without specific information on requirements of an accessible toilet, it can be very difficult to design it. Your WC will unlikely be suitable for every type of disability, as there is not one solution that will work for all.
Advances in technology have led to the creation of helpful equipment and features that can aid many different disabilities; for example, installing a hoist (a piece of equipment that enables those who can’t move independently move via being lifted). The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) recommends toilets are between 17 to 19 inches high to make it easier to sit down and stand back up. There are numerous other changes that can be made to improve people’s experience, like installing handrails, increasing the size of a bathroom and moving the sink closer to the toilet.
When we think about accessibility we often think about physical access, such as entrances into shops or public places. However, it can relate to some different things including online access, or in other words – the internet. With the world wide web has been around for years, it can often be overlooked when discussing disability access. Without realizing, many websites are not optimized for disabled users – which can cause some people to avoid it completely. If you’re a business, this can mean you are losing a group of people which could otherwise be loyal customers.
Some great ways to make sure your website is accessible include:
- Use headers and organize content in easy to read way
- Include alt text for all your images
- Give any links unique and descriptive names
- Use color carefully – black font on a white background is best, although allowing users the option to adjust them can help a larger selection of people
- Make sure anything clickable is a decent size
- Make sure users can access all areas of your site with just their keyboard
- Include an accessibility guide
Many of these changes require minimal effort but can make a big difference to people accessing your website.