In our last article, we explored how physical barriers limit access for people with various disabilities. In this article, we will consider how organizations can prevent or remove barriers. Preventing and removing physical disability barriers makes organizations welcoming to people of all abilities.
Preventing and Removing Physical Disability Barriers
Organizations can find many solutions to help people access buildings and services. Some solutions are low-cost. For instance, the Stop Gap Foundation provides ramps for businesses with one step leading to their front doors. In contrast, other solutions, such as installing elevators, may be more costly or disruptive. However, federal, provincial, or local funding may help organizations create spaces with fewer barriers.
In some cases, organizations may not receive funding. Alternatively, installing lifts or building accessible washrooms may not be possible. However, there are still ways for staff to make their premises welcoming to all customers, workers, or visitors. For instance, staff can remove barriers in organizations such as:
- Retail stores
- Offices, including government offices
- Movie theatres or live theatres
- Sports venues
- Amusement parks
Staff can help people access their organizations by:
- Meeting with customers, clients, or workers on the first floor
- Opening doors
- Retrieving items from narrow aisles or high shelves
- Serving customers away from high counters or weak lighting
- Reading aloud
- Serving customers remotely
- Knowing where near-by accessible services are, such as barrier-free washrooms
In addition, staff should try to make every customer aware that they will provide all these services.
Moreover, designers of new buildings and services can prevent physical barriers from happening in the first place. For instance, they can design buildings with level entrances, wide doorways and aisles, good lighting and colour contrast, and elevators. Furthermore, they can consult with people who have disabilities during the design process. In this way, they can find out if they have designed barriers without meaning to. They can also learn how to avoid those barriers in future. As a result, people will create fewer physical disability barriers and move more freely.