A woman in a wheelchair goes up a ramp to a doorway showing an ideal accessible world where a historical building has a smooth sidewalk and ramp leading to the doorway

Independence and Accessibility

Accessibility and independence go hand-in-hand but often times people do not realize that they rely on each other.

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Becoming independent with physical limitations

I have spoken with many parents of children with disabilities like spinal muscular atrophy and know that one of their biggest heart desires for their children is to grow up and be as independent as they possibly can. I believe this is a goal of any parent. But it's even more wonderful for a child who has always lived with physical limitations to figure out life in a way that truly allows them to become independent.

Lack of accessibility

Though this is a great goal, I often find struggles with that even in our everyday public places due to accessibility. It may be a shock to some that even in 2023 public accessibility is not universal. 

"It's just one little entrance step"

I was shopping in our downtown Public Square the other day and ran into more than one store that I did not have access to. This is an older part of town and I understand the value of keeping the history and historic buildings alive. However when it comes to not being able to enter into a store due to its lack of accessibility, not only is my shopping experience ruined, but it removes true independence for me. And even more so, not only it did affect me, the business now has left out an entire people group due to a “little entrance step.”

Grandfathered-in accessibility laws

Some may ask what options old historic buildings have, and I believe that every city and even county has different regulations, but I know where we live things are “grandfathered in” and not required to abide by current codes.

I struggle with this concept because where do we draw the line of outdated rule and the progress of growth?

We must keep up with the progress of accessibility!

Considerations for businesses

In my opinion the best two ways to do this is:

  • Hire a disability consultant: no one is going to know the needs of the disability community better than… The disability community!
  • Businesses should invest in hiring, professional, DI, and disability consultants to help keep up with that amazing growth and progression of accessibility
  • Do your research: we have come a long way, there is more growth to be had. However, we are not reinventing the wheel here. To ensure that public spaces are accessible to everyone, it is essential to make accessibility a top priority. This includes ensuring that buildings and public spaces are designed and constructed with accessibility in mind.
  • It is also important to invest in technologies and tools that can make public spaces more accessible for everyone. This may include installing wheelchair ramps, handrails, and elevators, and improving signage and lighting.

Accessibility is crucial to independence. By working together, we can create a more inclusive world where everyone has equal opportunities for independence and success. It may take time and effort, but every little step we take towards accessibility is a step towards a more inclusive and independent society.

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