Accessibility means breaking down barriers to ensure that everyone can fully participate in their communities and in society at large.
If you don’t have a disability, you may not think twice about the curb cuts you cross on your way to work, closed captions that appear on your favorite TV shows, or signs in braille. But for people with disabilities and their families, these are accessibility features that are vital for full inclusion in society.
Accessibility can be defined as whether someone with a disability can access, experience, or interact with something. This can apply to the following:
Notice a pattern? The items listed above are vital resources or activities we should have in our lives which is why accessibility is key to ensuring inclusion for people with disabilities.
Accessibility in public spaces, including the workplace and schools, is required by law with the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. However, there are still many ways society falls short in ensuring our communities can be accessed by people with disabilities. It’s on all of us to consider and advocate for full accessibility.
Web accessibility assures that people with disabilities can access websites.
With so much information and socialization happening online, it is crucial that we ensure everyone can access content on the internet.
Web accessibility includes captions for videos, descriptions of images, high contrast and resizing for text, screen-reader friendly websites, and more.
While Title II of the ADA requires that all state and federal websites must be accessible to people with disabilities, there is still a long way to go until the internet is barrier free.
To learn more about web accessibility, visit the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for guidelines for web designers and developers.
First, it’s important to note that the term “handicap” is no longer used or accepted by the disability community; instead, you can simply say “accessible.” Typically, the term “handicap accessible” often means a space or terrain can be traversed by someone who uses a wheelchair or other mobility aid. However, accessibility doesn’t just include people with mobility aids; it encompasses those with invisible disabilities, including people with chronic physical or mental health issues, and autism.
There are hundreds of guidelines in the ADA for accessibility compliance. These guidelines pertain to building entrances, ramp inclines, elevators, bathroom access, parking spaces, alarms, table heights, and more. These rules ensure that people with disabilities have access to their community and gives them a legal recourse if they encounter unnecessary barriers. You can visit the official ADA guidelines website to learn more.
Our community-based facilities across the United States are directly responding to the needs of their communities to break down barriers in employment, community access, housing, transportation, technology and more.
An Easterseals supporter named Haley Moss wrote an article for us on what it's like to travel when you have a disability. Specifically, she has Autism Spectrum Disorder. We look forward to collaborating with Haley in the future, as she is a great advocate and writer! Read Haley's article here.
For a guide on accessible transportation questions and solutions, click here.