On Accessibility

There is a great deal being said in many places (I think a lot of lip service) about accessibility.

Wikipedia suggests that   “Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible.”

I don’t have a rear view mirror hangy thing, I don’t have a license plate that “allows” me to park in the special places (even if there are days when I would kill to be able to not have to walk any further than I absolutely have to…).  I don’t (often… yet… ) walk with a cane.  Does that mean I don’t qualify for things to be as accessible to me as they are to people who meet the definition of handicapped?

I have noticed much more with my wrist encased in its happy little brace how many things I’m less able to do even than I was before my surgery.  I have noticed and I have considered and thought.

Have you noticed that there isn’t a door at every entrance to MAJOR public buildings (I work in the “office half” of a local hotel building)?  There is one door that has the button that allows it to open automagically… and that one door is at the same entrance as the hotel front desk, AND the door man.  So… I can go to that entrance and head to the accessible entrance (the ONLY one) and have the door man open the freaking thing for me anyway.  Dude, I’m not tipping you because of the poor building design. And if I’m juggling (one handed… brace is to remind me to not hurt myself) my computer bag, my pager (that doesn’t actually have a case… gee) and my badge… I can’t PULL the non-automatic doors… and I can’t pull my wheeled computer bag through the revolving door if the guy happens to not be cleaning the revolving door at 7:30 in the morning…

Our office building’s lobby (yeah… see the paragraph above… the HOTEL lobby is our office building’s lobby… ) has a pair of bathrooms.  I haven’t tried the men’s room door… but if you show up at work and want to use the bathrooms in the lobby “too early” in the morning… they have turned off the buttons that open the door for you.  Thank you… now my compromised immune system gets to touch the skanky door because there is NO ONE SINGLE garbage can in the lobby to throw the paper towels into… so I have to touch the door… to save you… eight cents a week in electricity?
And, you can equip ALL of your elevators with TVs so people can watch the news on the 12 seconds it takes to make the trip to the right floor.  Ever think of something useful like voice recognition or an intercom and remotely controlled elevators so people who get there at not rush hour don’t have to struggle with high buttons or obviously slimy buttons?  I know there is at least one person who has to use these elevators and who might not get off at my floor but I know they get off at 1… who tested positive for H1N1 in the last week… am I next?  I would suck it up and look like a dork so I don’t have to touch the buttons and take a chance of a tiny wound I don’t know I have.

Dog food… How do I (one handed, or with fingers that totally aren’t working because my knuckles ache) open the off brand dog food’s (35% cheaper is significant if it isn’t a waste because she won’t eat it) foil lid… the band name opens okay with one hand… I almost have to chew the lid off the store brand. Or get incredibly irritated and stab it with a steak knife.

Door knob on the house.  It is easy to get in, that handle is one you push down.  And you can do that with your elbow.  BUT WAIT… it is also very easy to catch the velcro strap that holds on the brace on the door knob… and that HURTS.   You have to idiot proof the accessible things, too.  Inside the house, they are small, round, and smooth.  And think about it… if you child proof your door knobs to keep little people in… you have effectively also trapped anyone that has trouble applying significant pressure to turn the knob.

Central Texas is burning… at least a significant part of one county (up to 1400 homes now)… how “accessible” is your fire extinguisher?  put on a pair of oven mitts and try using it… one handed… hmmmm

Jansport… I got a fabulous backpack that has a handle and wheels.  It fits my hand perfectly and is just the right height… and because I invested in the up-graded wheels when I bought it, it pulls easily and doesn’t flip so easily.  It also came with only half of the fabric pulls on the zippers… and the ones that do have them… you can see that they are sewn on and didn’t just fall off in the store…would it have been so hard or cost ineffective to include all of the easier to use pully things?   Really?  Now I have to buy key rings and attach them because my fingers can pull the zippers if someone isn’t as smart as you engineering geniuses and zips it the “wrong” (because there is a “RIGHT”?) way.

I’ve actually gotten used to leaning into the passenger seat to turn the key with my left hand.

Can’t open my door if I have my key in my hand (and slobber in the chirpy thing is apparently not good, either) or if I’m talking on the phone or drinking coffee or… (reach even beyond me…) a cane…  well, you get it.

Washing the windows (or bathtub, or anything else) if the bottle has a trigger handle… hmmm… fingers aren’t liking that at the moment either…

Accessibility… the design of EVERYDAY things so as to make them usable (OH YEAH… and so people will actually PAY YOU MONEY to buy them/use them) by as many people as possible.

Companies have noticed that people who are not invisible (as in it is invisible illness week) and started to design things that make life easier and more livable for them.  What about those of us who fall through the definitions…

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