An accessible society is beneficial to everyone, so let’s take the word “disability” out of the conversation for just a moment and think about these questions: Remember the last time you went to the grocery store and wheeled your cart out the door? What about rolling a suitcase through airport on one of those handy dandy moving sidewalks?
The automatic doors and curb cuts we use daily are just a fraction of the universal designs that have become necessary to our lives. They’re so ubiquitous we barely notice them. Many of these conveniences came about as a result of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Making programs, services and spaces accessible is called “an accommodation”.
An accommodation can be as simple as posting information signs in large print or Braille, or as complex as reworking the footprint of a building to add accessible restrooms. Regardless of the scope, the law states that accommodations must be “readily achievable and easily accomplished.”
Other accommodations like flexible work schedules, adjustable work stations and digital/electronic accessibility make it possible for people with disabilities to integrate into work places, public places and online places.
According to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), there are at least 36 types of disabilities that can be reasonably and easily accommodated in the workplace and public spaces.
There are economic benefits to ensuring the workplace is accessible to everyone. Reduced poverty rates, stimulated technological innovation, entrepreneurship and an expanded consumer base are all benefits to designing businesses, programs, buildings transportation – we could go on – in an accessible way.
Universal design facilitates participation, freedom of choice, and integration. Everyone needs the proper tools and environment in which to be successful. Thanks to the ADA, accommodations and universal designs are becoming more and more a part of our cultural landscape.