Sunday, February 7, 2010

more accessibility tips

Often a space is listed as being "wheelchair accessible", but on followup it is discovered that an event held there was actually not wheelchair accessible or disability friendly at all. Accessibility is often (but not always) about the physical space, the architecture of the space itself, absolutely, but often that physical space changes dramatically when an event is happening.

For example, a space that may be considered wheelchair accessible when empty is entirely unnavigable when an event is underway, because of crowds, seating, lighting, etc. So, when talking about a generalized disabled access, it is *really* important to have a sense of how a space will be set up ahead of time, to ensure there is free access to washrooms, to fire exits(!), and the like, to ensure the space is properly lit, and has well lit areas for certain kinds of communication, to ensure there are volunteers dealing specifically with disability access tasks, etc.

If you're unsure what to look for when determining whether a space is actually accessible, ask questions. You can chat with me about it, i make myself pretty available. i offer a pretty extensive accessibility audit, and don't charge for it (though i'll happily accept offers and freebees lol). There's much to consider, and because wheelchairs arent objects which magically propel themselves (ie without a user) it aint all about whether "a wheelchair" can fit through the front door, yknow? Aside from the fact that wheelchairs come in a *huge* range of dimensions, there's a whole person involved, trying to navigate the space.
There are also folks on crutches, folks new to being disabled or with temporary disabililties who may not be accustomed to navigating spaces while disabled, folks with chemical sensitivities, elders, non sighted folks, deaf folks, fat folks, folks with kids, etc. Many folks require various kinds of accessible spaces, so let's work together to make that happen. Ask questions, research, collaborate!

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