Best Practices for Ensuring the Inclusion of People with Disabilities
Ilene Zeitzer at the Saudi Forum on Universal Design.
There are some practices that organizations, companies and individuals can incorporate to help ensure that their community is inclusive for people with disabilities. Below are examples of best practices from countries around the world, as well as some not so good practices.
A rehabilitation center in Manama that is operated by the Ministry of Labor & Social Affairs teaches young men a variety of employment skills, including furniture construction and various types of printing and graphic design.
Voting is mandatory in Brazil. To ensure that everyone can participate, voting machines are accessible, counters are lowered and election volunteers are trained to help, if needed.
An easy to see curb-cut with tactile navigation strips for people who are visually impaired.
Rio de Janeiro
Light: Light is the electric utility company for this city of 6 million people. The back of this electric bill says: "At Light, the number of employees with disabilities is greater than required by the law. For a simple reason: for us, what's important is to have valuable people."
Beach for All: The city government of Rio de Janeiro has entered into a partnership with organizations and companies in the city, some who act as sponsors, to create accessible beaches for wheelchair users. The project, which has been launched on Copacabana Beach, uses special rubber interlocking tiles that stay on top of the sand's surface to permit wheelchair users to roll down to the ocean. Different types of sand wheelchairs are being tested and the complete system is expected to be operational next year.
Tbilisi A wheelchair construction project at the local Coalition for Independent Living provides training and work for people with disabilities. It is funded by an international donor, along with other disability organizations. All wheelchair clients are given an ergonomic assessment and the cushions are custom-made to meet their specific needs, then sewn by a cooperative of deaf women. The wheelchair of the young girl in the photo has ergonomic cushions. This project is an excellent example of good disability policy and practices.
Mexico City This information booth in the Mexico City International Airport has a lowered counter for ease of use by wheelchair users, Little People and others of short stature. Mexico is showing its support for the inclusive employment goals of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) by ensuring that a percentage of the government jobs, such as this passport official in the picture below, are filled by individuals with disabilities.
Montevideo These photos show how older cities can redesign for accessibility. A lovely public park and an old famous theater - the Teatro Solis - have been made accessible for people with disabilities by the addition of ramps and improved surfaces and signage.
Special, Not Equal
An accessible lift for train cars in Austria means people with disabilities can be accommodated when boarding and exiting trains (good). However, this also means that the conductor would have to be alerted that a passenger needs this service, so the equipment, and someone to operate it, is waiting at the station to assist them (not so good).
This train station in Austria has an accessible bathroom (good), but it requires an attendant to open it (not so good).
Not So Good Practices
No enforcement against the practice of parking cars on sidewalks means everyone, including people in wheelchairs, those with vision problems, the elderly and mothers pushing strollers, is forced into the street in the line of oncoming traffic.
14 steps mark the entrance to a brand new vocational training center for people with disabilities. The message is pretty clear - people who use wheelchairs and those with other ambulation problems need not apply.
In the category of “what were they thinking?” - the inhumanely steep ramps that run alongside this set of steps seem almost an afterthought. The steps were created to encourage pedestrians to use an underpass instead of trying to cross a very busy and wide intersection. It’s hard to imagine that the intersection could be any more dangerous than the ramp, especially for people in wheelchairs.
The handicapped parking space was well-intended, but the execution lacks full understanding of what is really needed as there is no curb cut anywhere to go up on the sidewalk. So the design only works if the vehicle is a side entry with the doors on the right side.
This department store must have thought they were making things easier with this too steep ramp, but they weren't!