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National AccessAbility Week: Inclusion Benefits Everyone

This week is National AccessAbility Week!

In Canada, we celebrate National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) every year starting on the last Sunday in May. The week raises awareness about accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities in Canadian communities and workplaces. In 2019, National Accessibility Week takes place from Sunday, May 26th until Saturday, June 1st.

National AccessAbility Week: Inclusion Benefits Everyone

National AccessAbility Week is about recognizing that inclusion benefits everyone. This week, we celebrate the inclusion of people with disabilities in work and community. This inclusion is important not only for people with disabilities, but for every person in every community across the country.

The Curb Cut Effect

The curb cut effect happens when something is created to help one group of the population and ends up benefiting many more people. Its name comes from the concept of curb cuts, which allow people using mobility devices to cross streets. Curb cuts turned out to be helpful for many other people, including people:

  • With children in strollers
  • Wheeling carts or luggage
  • Using bicycles, skateboards, or roller blades

Many more social developments created to benefit people with disabilities also improve quality of life for non-disabled people. For instance, closed captioning displays the dialogue on a TV program or movie so that viewers who are Deaf can follow what is going on as they watch. Many other people also benefit from captions, including people trying to watch TV in noisy environments and newcomers learning English. Similarly, the first audio books were produced in the 1930s for readers who are blind. Today, sighted readers also enjoy audio books while they do other tasks, such as driving, exercising, housework, or simply relaxing.

The Business Case for Inclusion

The curb cut effect highlights the idea that an accessible world is a better place for all people. When people with disabilities are included as employees and as customers, they become fully involved in the world around them. They use their talents for the good of their workplaces, neighbourhoods, and other groups they involve themselves in. They find common ground with people who value them for their gifts.

At the same time, when more people with disabilities are working, they gain purchasing power and the economy improves. When businesses make sure that their spaces and staff are welcoming to customers with disabilities, their customer bases expand. Businesses and community spaces that are visibly committed to accessibility become known as groups or organizations that care about the well-being of their residents, clientele, and staff.

People may think of inclusion as important only to individuals with disabilities. However, the curb cut effect shows us that inclusion benefits everyone.