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Accessibility is not Inclusion

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From "Unleash Web Access by Monica Guy:

"What if the first question we asked was, “What is so unique about this situation that it justifies exclusion?” instead of, “How much does it cost to make it accessible?”

These aren’t my words, but those of disability rights guru Dr. Scott Rains in a recent excellent article in New Mobility magazine."

http://www.unleashwebaccess.com/2011/02/accessibility-is-not-inclusion-scott-rains-on-changing-the-conversation/

Published in: Travel

Accessibility is not Inclusion

  1. 1. ACCESSIBILITYIS NOT INCLUSION B Y S C O T T R A I N S a potential customer lets the product be its own advertisement. Consumers who with checklists, concern that people with disabilities are risk management problems.W hat if the first question we asked regularly find themselves overlooked tend Slipping down that backwards-facing slide, was, “What is so unique about to be enthusiastically loyal when they dis- accessibility accepts performance accord- this situation that it justifies ex- cover a company that goes out of its way ing to the standard of the “least worst” — clusion?” instead of, “How much to meet their needs. Think of the smile on aiming only for whatever minimum candoes it cost to make it accessible?” a disabled kid’s face when they recognize be codified after the political compromise Historically, accessibility was the ral- that the playground allows them to be of legislation, regulation and code enforce-lying cry of a political movement spring- included too, and they rush to play on it. ment. It establishes a floor, but often as-ing from the civil rights era of the 1970s. Adult consumers are not all that different! sumes the ceiling is out of reach.Inclusion is its offspring — a goal that Where accessibility is passive — leavingreflects a globalized network where free- the door open without obstacles in the way INCLUSION:dom of movement and the full partici- — inclusion actively invites you in to the ABOUT COMMUNITYpation of all is taken for granted — and human network beyond the barrier-free Inclusion looks forward. It involves aenshrined as a right. doorway. Accessibility looks at stuff and at drawing-in of newcomers by those who are Economically, inclusion expands your space. Inclusion looks at human lives. already privileged to share in a particularmarket. It just makes good business sense. Accessibility looks backward. It goes social good. It is the hospitality response —Advertising persuades a customer they halfway toward overcoming outmoded the sign of a healthy community.need your product — whether they do and artificial standards of what — and If mere accessibility fails by leavingor not. Designing a product that commu- who — is “normal.” Accessibility too often kids with disabilities as social wallflowersnicates, on first sight, that it is usable by becomes “mere compliance” — obsession on the edges of a well-intentioned play-36 NEW MOBILITY
  2. 2. ground, then inclusion takes the extra Inclusive Design, Design-for-All and sprains and broken arms of childhood?step, sometimes by going beyond physical Lifespan Design. It is not a design What more natural meeting place fordesign, to educate the community on the style but an orientation to any design these parents to benefit from the practi-full potential of the design. process that starts with a responsibil- cal knowledge and resiliency of families The positive impact of a playground ity to the experience of the user. whose children have disabilities?is easily measured on a community. In- Universal Design and green de- What of those who are tempted to re-clusion challenges the community to be sign are comfortably two sides of the treat into demanding justification of merecertain it is measuring the impact of good same coin, but at different evolution- accessibility due to inadequate funding?design on traditionally overlooked com- ary stages. Green design focuses on Respond to those who hold the pursemunity members. It goes beyond mea- environmental sustainability, Uni- strings with figures on the cost of main-surement of physical infrastructure to versal Design on social sustainability taining separate, segregated and stigma-record the increase in social capital and (from www.adaptenv.org). tized “special” recreation areas.draws new community members into full At election time, remind decision makersparticipation in the act of doing so. INCLUSION: of the value of an enthusiastically loyal con- The Institute for Human-Centered A 21ST CENTURY VISION stituency (that has previously been under-Design explains how Universal Design The word “universal” doesn’t mean “one- served). Playgrounds get out the vote, too.(modeled on the concept of inclusion) size-fits-all.” Such a goal is impossible. Accessibility is doing for — a 20th-pushes beyond mere access: Even in a single person’s lifetime one’s century task. Inclusion is doing with — stature, ability, and desires change. So a 21st-century vision. Which approach Universal Design is a framework for some prefer the term “Inclusive Design” makes for stronger communities? the design of places, things, infor- to signal that inclusion makes the best of mation, communication and policy accessibility socially sustainable by being Scott Rains writes on travel and issues of to be usable by the widest range of intensely engaged in problem-solving interest to people with disabilities. His work people operating in the widest range with those who are disadvantaged by appears in numerous publications and on- of situations without special or sepa- what passes for normal. line at RollingRains.com. He is the founder rate design. Most simply, Universal Where else but an inclusive play- of the global forum on inclusive tourism, Design is human-centered design of ground are parents of temporarily able- Tour Watch, and has worked worldwide as everything with everyone in mind. bodied kids likely to learn firsthand how an advocate for inclusive tourism. You can Universal Design is also called to prepare for the inevitable scrapes, reach him at srains@oco.net. JANUARY 2011 37

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