Equal Accessibility: Why Every Business Should Be Wheelchair Accessible
As a nation that thrives off of diversity, we hope that everyone understands the importance of acceptance and equality for all people, regardless of culture, race, ethnicity, etc. Physical and/or developmental disabilities are no exception. Every individual deserves equal treatment and respect. But what happens when individuals with a physical disability become disadvantaged due to lack of wheelchair accessibility? The importance of accommodations such as working elevators and service doors and ramps may be unconsciously overlooked by individuals who do not have a physical disability. However, for individuals with reduced mobility who rely on these essential accommodations, a lack of these necessities becomes extremely problematic and results in unequal and sometimes unachievable accessibility to buildings. Let’s talk about the importance of wheelchair accessibility in all buildings, and why it is essential for so many individuals.
How many people suffer from a mobility related disability?
Statistics Canada revealed that in 2012, over 11 per cent of Canadian adults suffered from one of the three most prevalent disability types; pain, flexibility or mobility, with 40 per cent of those individuals experiencing all three at the same time. Over 80 per cent of people with a disability use an aid or some sort of assistive device, with six per cent of people with disabilities specifically using a wheelchair, according to the 2010 U.S. census information.
Under Canadian Law, is every building required to be wheelchair accessible?
“The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the provision of goods, accommodations or facilities customarily available to the general public, and prohibits the adverse differentiation between individuals.” (Government of Canada, 2006) To learn more about accessibility standards, visit the Government of Canada website. A link to which may be found below.
Isn’t it expensive for businesses to make accessibility accommodations?
This is a common misconception about creating accommodations for people of all abilities. Contradictory to the myth, the Government of Canada website reveals that in a study conducted by the U.S. Job Accommodations Network, 57 per cent of participants spent nothing at all making their building more accommodating. Of those that did have a cost, the typical one-time cost for employers was $500, which deems to be a small price to pay for equality for all people.
Why is this such an important issue?
If you are a person who does not suffer from a psychical disability or limited mobility, building accessibility may not be something you think about on a regular basis. However, take a minute to think about how often you enter a variety of buildings every day. Now imagine being consistently faced with obstacles (on top of everyday challenges) that make it nearly impossible, if not completely unattainable to enter the building. Not only would this be incredibly frustrating, you may find yourself feeling discriminated against because of your disability. People of all abilities deserve equal access to businesses and buildings without being faced with discrimination and adversity. It is essential all businesses commit to this level of equality, and make the appropriate accommodations for all persons.
How can I help?
Equal accessibility in buildings is one giant leap forward in creating equality for all people. If you notice a building is not accessible for people of all abilities, speak to the business owner about the importance of equal accommodations. Refer to the Government of Canada website for more information about building accessibility.