One of the complaints by various building officials, property managers and business owners who are, at times, angry for having to pay for or enforce laws that require facilities to be made have said to me:
- I never see that platform lift being used
- We never see those people come in here
Both of these complaints stem from a misunderstanding of both the real accommodations have for people who have disabilities and how many disabled individuals are out and about.
First some statistics. The answer? At least one in five. Don’t believe it? See this source, Access to Disability Data citing a very old source, from the early 1990s. Given that this year, of 2011, the first baby boomers have reached 65, AND The number of disabled veterans is rising especially as the United States has more than three military actions going on today, you can be sure that there are plenty of disabled citizens out today.
Now even if you provide accommodations that’s not enough to get people with disabilities into your establishment. I won’t talk about marketing or sales funnel, but installing a platform lift isn’t enough — it’s really possible that your external path of travel is so incompliant that the disabled can’t even get in the door. Plus a business that is known to be disabled unfriendly is likely to not get business from the disabled. A family taking grandma out to dinner isn’t going to take her to a restaurant that will embarrass her or cause her difficulty.
With this in mind, I want to draw attention to a recent connection we’ve made, a blog by one Mia G Vayner who runs a blog: “Disabled Access Denied“. With the advent of social media online and social networking, Vayner is one of the rising voices of a growing disgrunted and traditionally under-represented group of people.
I had invited Vayner to write herself an introduction, and it is presented below.
Disabled Access Denied was the message I got every time I rolled up to a restaurant that wasn’t accessible or a doctors office that had 10 steps up to its door or my favorite — when store owners used their existing disabled ramps as prime retail space.
My name is Mia G. Vayner and I’ve never been known for taking these types of injustices quietly. My friends will tell you I have always had a disability: a quick wit, a sharp mind and a total inability to handle stupidity. If you’re asking about the wheels under my ass, its a hereditary neurological disorder that is degenerative and makes walking and standing with any regularity impossible. This has been my life for about 5 years. When you mix my friends opinion of me with the ever growing lack of care and concern by those in power for the rights of the wheelchair bound my choices became scream or do something about it. The first meant I need to put a lawyer on retainer and the second involved starting a blog. That is how www.disabledaccessdenied.com was born.
My blog serving notice to those who say through their laws, their lack of adherance to laws, their complete disregard or simple lack of thought for the disabled, we’ll photograph, we’ll blog and we’ll tell the powers that be that until they make it right, until they Respect our Existance, they can Expect our Resistance.
Now our business blog here at YTA’s main focus is to you business owners and contractors — so between Vayner and ourselves, we address different audiences. Plus, we are located in Los Angeles — Disabled Access Denied has strong roots in New York City. So there are some differences in where we are coming from.
Nonetheless, I think it a good opportunity for many of you to take a look at Disabled Access Denied and understand where your direct customers and end-users of construction come from — what their interests are and how strongly inaccessible construction impacts their ability to just get from point A to point B.
Often times too, our focus is on the letter of the code, and as a result there is opportunity to forget what the end result should be. Here at YTA we don’t just want to help you provide legally compliant paths of travel and access to goods of services but also to provide good and safe customer experience so that people with disabilities can enjoy the same benefits and integration as their non-disabled peers.
So please take a look at the wealth of articles and information, and think about how your customer experience — especially those who are of different ability — are impacted by your customer experience. A good starting place is to sit in a wheelchair and try to get in the door, and use your restroom.
As always if you have specific questions about accessibility at your site you can contact us at 866 982 3212 or firstname.lastname@example.org