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How to Progress the Conversation about Accessibility and Equality
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How to Progress the Conversation about Accessibility and Equality

There’s no question that our society is built to function best for people with certain needs and abilities. People who fall outside that are seen as having “special needs”, when really, they have the same needs as everyone else, society just doesn’t cater to them in an inclusive way.

Public policy has come a long way in making spaces accessible to people with a wider variety of abilities. Wheelchair ramps, stair rails, wide doorways, and accessible bathrooms are required for government-funded buildings. But often, gaps in accessibility aren’t noticed by those not directly affected. This is why it’s vital that people of various mobilities and cognitive functions are involved in both public policy and services for the disabled.

Below are some careers and positions where more diverse representation could lead to wider accessibility in society in general.

Counseling

When counselors and therapists treat patients, there are a lot of factors that affect quality of care. Their understanding of science, the human body, the human mind, and also their personal experiences all come into play. When patients are mistreated by therapists, whether things change depends on if people in the industry know about the problem and feel it needs to be addressed. More people with first-hand experience of disability in the counseling field could drastically help reduce industry abuse, neglect, and general unhelpfulness. Becoming a counselor is one way that people can help improve a vital system for people with disabilities.

Criminal Justice

When police are not trained to interact with people with behavioral and mental conditions that are not seen as “the norm”, people get hurt. Officers misconstrue failure to follow orders as violence or obstruction, when often, it is a lack of understanding. Our criminal justice system needs empathetic people in all facets of the system, including policing, judging, prison guards, parole officers, and community service officers.

Tech

Technology often strives to make things convenient, but individual developers sometimes fail to see how different people are failed by their products. Tech companies need to hire people of all abilities and develop screening processes where problem points are found for people who often get forgotten by mainstream tech. We’ve already seen a lot of progress with websites being more accessible for those with sight and hearing challenges. Technology has also already been incorporated into improving senior living conditions, including wi-fi access to improve communication, monitoring and reporting health conditions, and robots providing supplemental care.

What fields would you like to see with more representation? Share in the comments!

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons

How about a hospital bed that can be lower than a standard wheelchair?

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