Many people take community spaces for granted. The unfortunate truth is that many public areas are not accessible to everyone. Physical barriers and lack of accommodations in public spaces can hinder vistors’ accessibility. Although some community spaces presently lack accessibility, community members can come together to advocate for change.
What does it mean to have an accessible community?
A community is accessible when public spaces are mindful of community members’ accommodations or are willing to make changes for the betterment of all visitors. Some everyday examples include:
- Wheelchair accessible entrances
- Nonverbal communication signage
- Assistive technology
- Adequate staff training
- and many more.
Although certain accommodations vary based on each community space, the purpose of them remains the same: to create a safe and welcoming space for individuals of all abilities.
Who benefits from accessibility in public spaces?
Individuals with mobility impairments (including the elderly), disabilities, cognitive challenges, or any other physical hindrances generally benefit the most from having accessible spaces. However, caregivers and family members of these individuals also greatly benefit from these accommodations.
One of the biggest benefits of having accessible spaces is safety. These accommodations can create safe and controlled access to public and community locations. When spaces are easily accessible to those with certain needs, it has the ability to ease some of the challenges caregivers may experience. It’s extremely meaningful to those providing care that community spaces understand these obstacles and are willing to make changes to their environments.
Accessible spaces can enhance independence and social connection amongst individuals as they have the ability to participate in and attend more community activities and places!
How can I advocate for accessibility?
While there are many ways to advocate for change within a community, even small steps can make a big difference. Some simple ideas to promote accessibility include:
- Joining a community Facebook page to start a conversation
- Reaching out to local businesses about potential improvements
- Emailing local governing establishments about instilling change
- Raising awareness of accessibility benefits through social media
- Attending public events and forums to speak to community members
- Connecting with local government to spark universal changes
- Maintaining a willingness to learn and listen
Why advocate for accessibility?
Advocating for something important to a large group of individuals is not only meaningful to those impacted but also to the greater good and betterment of a community. Promoting positive change can bring people together for a good cause, leading to a powerful sense of community connection. Accordingly, it’s important to advocate for those who are unsure how to advocate for themselves. Public spaces and establishments should have equal accessibility for all, because everyone deserves the opportunity to participate in the community!
Covey Advocates for Accessibility
Covey is a non-profit organization in the Greater Fox Valley of Wisconsin that is devoted to creating opportunities that foster personal growth for adults with disabilities.
One of Covey’s primary goals is to provide all the tools necessary for our participants to thrive and live an independent and fulfilling life. Although this is attainable within Covey’s spaces, it can become a challenge in some locations throughout the community. Advocacy is an important step to take to promote progress and change within public spaces lacking accessibility.
For more information, visit our website.