When hearing the words “disability” and “accessibility” what first comes to mind?
Usually, when thinking about these two words there are many common misconceptions or mistakes people make.
Today, we will point out what we believe are the five most common.
Just because the illness or disability is not apparent does not mean that it is not present.
This common misconception is quite common among many individuals, as when many hear the word “disability” they immediately think about wheelchairs, service dogs, and walking sticks. However, this is not always the case and disabilities and illnesses come in all shapes and sizes. It is important to be mindful of the fact that disabilities include visible physical disabilities such as being blind or a paraplegic but also include less visible disabilities such as hearing loss, visual impairment, and mental illness.
Accessibility does not mean completing the task for the disabled individual.
When many see what they consider to be an individual with a disability their immediate instinct (out of kindness), is usually to go help in whatever capacity possible.
As nice as that is, accessibility does not mean to complete the task for the disabled individual.
Rather, accessibility is the means to give all individuals the opportunity to complete the task by themselves, with as much or as little assistance as the individual’s requests not requires.
Accessibility does not mean special treatment.
Similar to the last point, accessibility does not mean to be treated differently. Rather, it means to be available and usable to all individuals. A good example of this would be to have a separate entrance around the back for individuals in wheelchairs, scooters, and walkers. Individuals with disabilities do not want to be singled out or treated differently and prefer to just be treated like everyone else.
Having one part of a location accessible does not mean the entire location is accessible.
Saying that a location is accessible implies that the location is accessible in its entirety.
That includes everything from the main area to the hallways, restrooms and parking area.
Think of accessibility as a chain- if one part of a chain fails the entire chain falls apart,
so too with accessibility.
If the main part of a location is accessible but the hallway to get to the main part is narrow and does not easily allow for disabled individuals to pass, the entire location by definition is not accessible.
Being accessible does not just mean being compliant with disability regulations.
Just because a venue is legally compliant with local accessibility laws, does not 100% mean that it actually is. Often, when designing spaces certain common objects in a room are overlooked ultimately obstructing clear space making it difficult for individuals with disabilities to navigate. Some of the most common objects include water fountains, coat hooks, low wall sconces,
low doorknobs, small door offsets, and rooms crowded with furniture.
Have you experienced any other mistakes or misconceptions? Comment below or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thanks to Sam Levinson in helping us create this important post.