Enhancing Accessibility to Promote Inclusive Communities
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are close to seven million adults living with a disability in California. As of 2020, one in four adults in California live with one or more impairments that fall under mobility, cognition, hearing, and vision. This statistic urges us to examine the essential roles that innovation and accessibility have in helping shape an inclusive community.
LSA believes all people with disabilities have the right to live life to its fullest in our community. So let’s address the three big questions: What does accessibility look like? How does inclusive design impact society? Are we heading towards a future with more inclusive design?
What does accessibility look like?
Improving accessibility in our community means that every individual with or without a disability has an equal opportunity to be active and healthy members of society. To understand what accessibility is, let’s first get a sense of what common barriers in the community for people with disabilities look like, both physical and social. Physical barriers may appear everywhere and therefore limit activity and participation. Architectural or physical barriers prevent access to specific spaces in outdoor or indoor settings.
- High shelves
- No wheelchair access
- Narrow walkways
- Poor lighting
- Long distances to reach common access points
- Automatic features in a building that are not repaired promptly
- Small door knobs
- Poor color contrast
Social barriers affect the aspects in which we grow, live, learn, and age. This is within the realms of education, employment, and income. Social barriers can affect the nurturing of human connection and well-being which may lead to the diminishment of critical life skills.
- Ability to obtain employment
- Increased chance of experiencing family violence
- Low income
- Videos without caption
- Ability to make meaningful connections
- Little social interaction
- Complex language
- Limited print options
Barrier-free spaces are not a preference but a need. This not only benefits our community members with disabilities but is helpful for other reasons as well such as for those who are using a stroller, cart, or luggage.
Accessibility features look like this:
- Wide hallways
- Adequate lighting
- Automatic doors
- Elevators or lifts
- Step-free access
- Chairs with grab handles
- Handrails in staircases
- Quiet heating and ventilation systems
- GPS apps with navigation systems that plan accessible routes
- Color combinations with good contrast for websites
- Closed captions in videos
- Keep content and language simple
- Graphic or visual cues
How does inclusive design impact society?
Inclusive design recognizes the needs of everyone and creates opportunities for participation at all levels of society. This promotes respect and belonging as core traits in a community. A prime local example of how inclusive design impacts society is Magical Bridge Foundation which was founded by long-time board member of LSA, Olenka Villareal. The foundation spearheaded the innovative multigenerational playground, the first of its kind. At Magical Bridge playgrounds, people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to play and connect with one another through its inclusive, innovative, and accessible features. Visit the two-story playhouse that’s wheelchair accessible, check out the kindness corner, or find a retreat at the hideaway hut that’s great for those who need a safe space. At Magical Bridge playgrounds we see how inclusive design removes physical and social barriers and gives families, friends, caregivers, and all community members with or without disabilities the ability to connect and share space.
Are we heading towards a future with more inclusive design?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are what many job seekers say are the pillars of good company culture. Inclusive design enables companies to provide their employees with a positive experience. As a result, companies gain a profitable workforce and see a boost in performance. In an effort to retain talent and provide better comfort to their employees, inclusive design is becoming a staple consideration for many companies. Beyond the workforce, foundations like Magical Bridge Foundation show us that inclusive design is possible anywhere in our community. Magical Bridge playgrounds are expanding past the reaches of California with two currently in development in Singapore. Visit the Magical Bridge website to see their playground locations. At LSA, accessibility is a core component of our homes. We include accessibility features like open spaces, wheelchair access, and de-stressing elements such as natural light. Visit our article to learn more about how we make a home accessible.
Around the world, families are advocating for spaces with thoughtful designs that would benefit their loved ones. As awareness and innovation continue to grow, more inclusive design is certainly in our future.
Learn more about Building an Inclusive Society Through Intentional Design by watching a recording of our I/DD Topics & Trends fireside chat with Olenka Villarreal, Founder and CEO of Magical Bridge. Explore our youtube channel for more information on LSA and other resources.
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