Accessibility conversation questions

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Background[edit]

Many people think that accessibility issues only concern people with disabilities, and more specifically, people in wheelchairs. The reality, however, is that it affects many other people, and across a wide range of circumstances, including older people, people moving with young children, pregnant women, and people with temporary injuries, such as a broken leg. In fact, it refers to a variety of issues that can affect everybody, including aspects like the small text on a mobile phone screen, the design of an ATM, low-floor buses, revolving doors, contradictory traffic signs, easy-to-understand instructions and many more.

In the EU, there are currently (2009) almost 50 million disabled people (10 million in the UK), over 51 million people with disabilities in the USA, and many more people over the age of 65, over 40% of whom have some kind of impairment, and who may or may not require help with access to all sorts of products, that is, devices, services and environments. It also obviously affects their families and people accompanying them.

Whereas in the UK, the preferred term is "disabled people", meaning that a badly designed environment and surroundings hinder people's movements, in the US, the preferred term is "people with disabilities", putting an emphasis on the fact that people are people, whatever their personal circumstances.

Situations[edit]

  • Other than the cleanliness of the water, one of the most important criteria for a beach to be given the coveted "Blue Flag" is that it is accessible. Do you think everyone benefits from such criteria?
  • Do you or anyone you know have any kind of impairment or disability?
  • Have you ever broken a leg or sprained an ankle and had to move around on crutches or in a wheelchair? How would you describe the experience?
  • Have you ever tried to get through a narrow doorway while carrying heavy suitcases? Or through a revolving door? Or up onto a train? What difficulties did you encounter?
  • Do you ever wish the writing on an ATM screen, your mobile or similar device were written in larger letters or with better contrast? If you have problems, how do you get round them?
  • Is it difficult to reach the fusebox in your house? The USB socket on your computer? If you have ever had a problem related to reaching things, please describe it.
  • Can you easily read the displays or TV screens announcing arrivals and departures at airports? If you cannot, what solutions have you found?
  • Have you ever tried to help someone in a wheelchair up a kerbstone? What was the biggest problem?
  • How often are the escalators/lifts out of order at the underground stations you use?
  • Do you usually have enough time to cross the road before the red man starts flashing? How do you feel when that happens? Does it depend on the crossing or do some, especially those in front of the town hall, give you more time to cross?
  • Is it easy to find signs indicating directions or giving instructions, names of streets, door numbers and so on?
  • Do you find it difficult to distinguish between red and green lights when the sun is shining directly on them?

Laws[edit]

  • What laws, if any, exist in your country aimed at making life easier for disabled people?
  • Are there any ways in which things could be improved in your country? At your workplace?

See also[edit]