Now that summer is in full swing, many Ontarians are taking to the beach. However, accessibility barriers might be keeping people with impairments away from the beach. AODA has brought about some improvements to accessibility at Ontario beaches as new and renovated beaches have to meet certain criteria. However, the changes are not yet widespread enough for all people to enjoy time at the beach. Hence the need for beach accessories for people with disabilities.
Barriers that people with impairments may face at older beaches include:
- Sand that makes walking or using a wheelchair difficult
- Inaccessible information, such as warning signs
- No ramps where there are stairs
This article discusses some beach accessories that will help make beaches more accessible, such as:
- Sand mats
- Sand accessible wheelchairs
- Braille signs
- Accessible washrooms
Many public beaches are investing in access mats, also known as sand mats. These mats go on top of the sand and provide a simpler way for people with mobility impairments to move over the sand.
Sand accessible wheelchairs
These devices have large wheels to make rolling on the sand easier. They can withstand contact with sand and water. Some are even waterproof and provide an easy shift between the water and land.
Signage is vital to have at the beach as they can be used to inform people of directions and information, such as unsafe water conditions.
Signs at the beach can be posted:
- In parking lots
- Along a trail or boardwalk
- At washrooms
They also should be in:
- Good colour contrast
- Large print
All washrooms should be barrier-free. This means that the path of travel to the washroom is accessible. Also, a water closet must be barrier-free. For instance, it must have a:
- Clear turning space
- Grab bar
- Toilet paper dispenser that is wall-mounted and below the grab bar
- Hand-operated and easily accessible flushing controls or automatic controls
Beaches that do not have washrooms must work toward installing them. All people visiting the beach should be able to use the washroom without any hardships.
People with impairments will be unable to visit the beach if dunes are steep. While new and redeveloped beaches are increasing accessibility by putting in ramps, some older beaches may not be accessible to everyone.
More Can Be Done
In sum, public spaces like beaches are for all people. However, accessibility at the beach isn’t yet good enough. The above list is just a few of the accessories that may help people with disabilities visit the beach. More can still be done to ensure that all people of all abilities can use the beach.