The Experience of Accessibility.

A little consideration to make the world more human.

A few years back, our family got a little shake up. My father was involved in an accident which resulted in a massive brain injury. As a result (and fast-forwarding many days/months/years of rehab), his mobility is limited to a few stairs, a few taxed steps and his noble steed (read: wheelchair) for longer excursions.

Last summer, with the allure that comes with an Eagles concert tour to any parents who grew up through the 70s, they decided to take their first trip since the accident to visit me in the nation’s capital.

Funny things happen when you get to experience the everyday things through a lens that isn’t your regular.

Gaps in the sidewalks get larger. Stuck wheels on curb-side edges feel like personal attacks. Small doorways and wheelchair access buttons that force you into a contortionist-like twist just to reach them blind you with rage.

Touring the city I’ve come to know and love, visiting the places I consider second and third homes felt more foreign than far off lands I’ve never visited. The regular booth at the brunch spot: uncomfortable. An impromptu trip to the circus show: infeasible.

A proposition: In the same way we use personas to help us consider each user segment while crafting the best software, let’s do more to consider the often overlooked groups of our friends, family, neighbours, lovers, and fellow citizens of the world. A little more universal design in everything we make (software, hardware, cities and everything in between) — couldn’t possibly hurt. Let’s make life more enjoyable for everyone, for however long we’re all here. And as an eccentric law professor of mine once pointed out, who wouldn’t want a bathroom full of large, spacious stalls (which happen to be accessible to everyone)?


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