Why is accessibility met with such resistance? Even when people care!

a woman pushing stroller down a sidewalk next to a red fire hydrant

While working with a client on disability access for a new technology product, the engineering team had a concern that majority users might think an audio speaker reading the text on the screen is annoying. They debated about how much of the message was necessary for the machine to read out loud for a visually impaired individual to use the system. Besides being legally required, providing critical access to visually impaired users actually IS important to the company. And, yet, this line of thinking is common. The initial instinct for most people when it comes to disability access —or accommodations for gender differences, religious needs, and parenting—is to view providing access as an inconvenience or a dreaded expense. Can we change this mindset? 

Let’s take a look at how sidewalk curb-cut ramps started. In the early 70’s, a few fed-up citizens poured a concrete ramp off of a sidewalk in Berkeley California, risking criminal charges. Eventually, curb-cuts became accepted as normal and even appreciated. These small ramps at sidewalk corners create life-changing access for a few, but also prove useful to many, and are hardly even an inconvenience to most. When more people gain full participation at work, at school and in society, companies make more money and the economy flourishes overall. 

Don’t let small inconveniences or startup costs get in the way of the long-term wins.

Read here for more about the “curb-cut effect

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