Many of us take accessibility for granted. We can live our lives without worrying about reading signs, climbing stairs or sidestepping obstructions.
However, for individuals with sight-related disabilities, accessibility makes a world of difference. Without proper accessibility, blind and visually impaired people may struggle to access a building and navigate it, leaving them dependent on others for help.
If you run a business or organization, you have to take steps to make your property accessible to people with sight problems. How can you do that? Read on for our expert tips.
Making Steps and Stairways Safe
Stairs are obviously a key element of good accessibility. You have a legal responsibility to ensure all your stairways are safe, convenient and set up for visually impaired people.
Handrails must be placed on both sides of your stairways and should be continuous all the way down; if they aren’t continuous, they have to run on enough at either end to help users still find their way to the top/bottom.
Furthermore, handrails need to feature rounded ends or attach to walls or posts at the top/bottom of the stairway.
Bright colors or materials of a different texture should be added to the lip of every step too, to make sure people can determine each new stair. Those with partial sight will see the change in color, while blind people can feel the different textures with their feet or stick.
The Importance of Proper Signage
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) stipulates that all signs considered ‘architectural’ (relating to a specific permanent space/fixture, exits etc.) must be accessible to visually-impaired people in various ways (read our previous blog post about it).
For example, non-glare backgrounds and text are essential, as is high contrast between colors — without these precautions, a sign may be unreadable. Signs should be tactile too, featuring raised lettering and/or braille.
Signs identifying rooms or spaces should be placed adjacent to the relevant door for added convenience. The last thing you want is for any disabled people to become lost, confused or upset in your property.
Fortunately, visually impaired and blind people have access to powerful tools like RightHear, which helps to make navigating the world a little easier. Our app is designed to direct users around indoor and outdoor spaces via audio cues (such as ‘entrance to library 20 feet ahead’).
We, at RightHear, takes information from locations, such as signs, to serve as a portable assistant. By installing proper signage that accommodates the visually impaired, you can help to make tools like RightHear effective.
Clutter-Free Hallways and Walkways are Vital
Hallways and walkways should never be overlooked. The ADA requires that hallways and corridors offer a minimum of 80 inches’ headroom to protect visually impaired people. If this is not possible, a safe physical barrier must be put in place to warn them.
Floors need to be slip-resistant and stable, with carpet piles no thicker than half an inch. They have to be kept clear of clutter and obstructions to allow people a direct route through space at all times.
In seating areas, all furniture should be arranged so visually impaired individuals have the freedom to pass through independently.
If you fail to comply with the ADA, you can face legal action and/or fines in the event of any accidents or accessibility issues. Your property should accommodate people with sight problems and offer a convenient, safe experience.
Follow the tips explored above to make your space welcoming for visually impaired people.
Do you have any other tips of your own? Share them below!