Accessibility in urban planning is a vitally important feature of any civilized society - everyone, regardless of their mobility, should be able to access and enjoy public facilities. Crappy-designed accessibility for people in wheelchairs, for example, sends a pretty insulting message: "We added this feature because someone told us we had to, but it's not important enough that we put any effort into making sure it actually helps."
Accessibility then becomes purely symbolic, something designed to show that we care, but has no practical purpose. Sadly, disabled people encounter this kind of attitude all too often, and beyond the continuous and ongoing campaigns for wheelchair accessible planning, there is little left to do but laugh at these outrageous design fails collected by Bored Panda.
So scroll down below to see where good intentions can go wrong for yourself, and if you see bad examples of disability-friendly designs in your neighborhood, be sure to report it to your local council or government representative!
For some insight on accessibility matters Bored Panda spoke to Julienne at abilities.com, the resource for the disability community in the USA. Julienne is sadly all too acquainted with businesses making half-hearted attempts to prioritize and provide effective accessibility, even if they do follow the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design.
"Unfortunately, accessibility is just a burr under the saddle of many business owners," she told us. "It is an expense they don’t think they can afford because they don’t view the wheelchair community as the over $1 Trillion aggregate income market that it is. Their businesses aren’t accessible so they don’t see people in wheelchairs, so they don’t think they are important in their market. A classic Joseph Heller: Catch-22."
If You Aren't Already In A Wheelchair, You Will Be After This
So what can be done to improve awareness on the importance of accessibility? How do we get businesses to understand that cutting costs and corners to make inadequate facilities isn't just inconvenient and potentially dangerous, but offensive too?
"People with disabilities and their supporters have to speak up," Julienne continues. "Post it on Yelp, take pictures and post it on the businesses’ social media. Use peer pressure, shame them, and most of all, vote with your wallet. Unfortunately, the winner there is Amazon. They saw the need of people who can’t/don’t want to leave their houses and have exploited it superbly.".
This Crosswalk For The Handicapped
Being Handicapped In Cabo San Lucas Is Apparently An Extreme Sport. (Fb Friend's Vacation Pic)
Julienne believes that the best thing businesses can do is to simply ask a person using a wheelchair to share their experiences, and learn from them. Over 23 years in the wheelchair she has encountered no end of rude and frustrating situations where a little basic understanding would sure go a long way.
"The biggest problem is that they don’t have someone in a wheelchair consulting on the build," Julienne says. "If they had someone in a wheelchair try to bump up a steep grade, for example, and then hold themselves in place with one hand on a wheel while trying to open a heavy door with a handle too high, that swings OUT, they never would have built it that way."
"Put all owners, designers and employees in a wheelchair for a day and let them try it."
Makes sense, doesn't it? Julienne believes that it all starts with the individual’s awareness, so don't be afraid to talk to people with disabilities about their accessibility needs and frustrations. The more we learn to empathize with each other and experience the world in another person's shoes, the better things will be for everyone!