A disability is a mind or bodily impairment that makes it difficult for a person to perform certain activities and restricts them from independently participating in the world around them. There are several hindrances that they need to subdue to accomplish their daily tasks. For physically disabled individuals, these challenges include buildings without elevators, public places without ramps, inaccessible toilets, and a host of other inconveniences.
To top all of this, bystanders are almost always staring at them. Sure, they are mostly sympathetic stares, but a physically impaired person doesn’t exactly need them. There’s a significant difference between sympathy and empathy; showing sympathy is pitying someone for their shortcoming, but empathy is to understand them.
As humans, we should try to be more empathetic towards those with a disability and always look for ways to provide them with comfort. There are several ways to do so. Starting with the places around us, here are a few ways to ensure that public areas are more accessible to the physically disabled.
It is essential to make sure that when you design a building, be it for residential or public use, it should be accessible to everyone. And this includes people with physical disabilities and impairments. They should not have to go out of their way to use one of your facilities.
From the outside:
Make the entrance visible with the proper use of lightings to be recognizable from a distance efficiently. Provide dedicated parking spaces for people with a wheelchair. Moreover, design the ramps and steps so that they are easily visible and protected with railings on either side. More importantly, ramps shouldn’t be so steep for wheelchairs.
From the inside:
Public health educationalists put great focus on the requirements of physically impaired individuals. And seeing the scope for development in this sector, several individuals pursue a masters in public health online to polish their skills and improve their learning. It helps them widen the spectrum of their careers and supports the building management in several ways to make indoor spaces safe for the physically disabled. Many of these public health experts have given their views and recommendation regarding accessible buildings. On the inside, lifts should be mandatory. They should be clear and smoothly operating at all times with a guide to help those who get stuck. Corridors inside the building should be wide enough with the absence of obstacles resulting in a fall. The doors should be open at all times possible, and entrances should be large enough to allow wheelchairs and walkers. Moreover, the use of doorknobs and high handles should be limited, and motion sensors should be installed where possible.
Floor numbers, nameplates, and lift digits could be in Braille letters or written in large and bold. Intercoms and information desks should be easily accessible, too. Inside the building, lights shouldn’t be too glossy or shiny as they could harm the eyes. Be considerate towards individuals with visual impairments when designing interiors. Mark glass doors so that they are easy to spot for everyone.
It is essential to pay special attention to disability-friendly toilets. An emergency never arises without prior warning. And sometimes, waiting to get back home isn’t an option.
Disability-friendly toilets make it easier for disabled individuals to find a suitable lavatory and portray inclusion. Since a bathroom is a basic need of every person, it is crucial to make public toilets easy and safe to use independently. Some essential features include a raised water closet that is easy to transfer to from the wheelchair. Paired with it should be strong and sturdy handrails that can withstand heavyweight and support a comfortable grip. Furthermore, the doors should swing open with a sign for the disabled visible in the front.
The taps should be easy to use, preferably lever-handles or motion sensors. The basin mirror position should be accurate so that disabled individuals can view it from a seated or standing position. Moreover, the dimensions for accessible toilets should be kept wide enough to allow a 360-degree turning circle for people on wheelchairs. Finally, an emergency toilet assistance system must be active at all times, reachable through a pull cord.
Accessible Air Travel
Traveling alone can be quite challenging, especially for people with impairments. Not to mention, the feeling of fulfillment a disabled individual experiences while being independent is beyond any set of words.
On the airport
Wheelchair services apart, several other improvements can make air travel easier for disabled individuals. Since most airlines place restrictions on power wheelchairs, staff should have appropriate training to interact with passengers who use wheelchairs. Furthermore, airport authority should make their way from one terminal to another as bump-less as possible.
In the flight
Many airlines have made accommodations to make air travel comfortable for passengers with reduced mobility (PRM). One such possible improvement is introducing a designated wheelchair space to help passengers navigate their way through the plane without the need to transfer off the aisle chair. Moreover, as for individuals with hearing-impairment, most airlines assist in sign-language. But, a Braille printed guide for the visually impaired would be an excellent help in addition to suitable entertainment gadgets to make longer flights less boring.
Conclusively, we must try to make our surroundings as inclusive as possible. Many around us are already going through tough challenges than we can imagine. We can only be more supportive with empathy. With modern technology, it has become much easier to accommodate people with disabilities in places around us.