Ever heard of Universal Design? (If not, click above to read about it). Basically, however, Universal Design promotes creating objects, housing, etc for use by all people. This includes barrier free housing, showers and other items.
Every holiday, I receive invitations to go to parties at friends and families' homes. The bottom line is that I can't get into these events because no one's home is accessible. It isn't a matter of just getting in the front door, although that can be daunting in itself - I'm getting flashbacks here of using pieces of plywood to roll up eight concrete steps - but once inside, the hallways may not be passable and of course, the bathroom may not be accessible.
My friends with disabilities have accessible housing by necessity so I can always be with them, but they live many miles away. It is discouraging as a person who works toward inclusion to discover that the friends I have who are not disabled might as well be living in a castle with a moat with alligators in it!
The last time I attempted to get into my sister's townhouse, the scene looked something like this: Picture a parking lot full of tightly parked cars and potholes. You roll through those only to arrive at a curbcut that is in complete disrepair which leads to a sidewalk that is also in pieces of chopped up concrete.
The fun has just begun. You look up and shudder. There's a cement staircase of 8 to 10 large steps which lead to a concrete "porch". Then you have another high step into the townhouse.
There is no handicapped parking near their townhouse. In fact, I have to park the equivalent of two or three blocks away when I visit. Which I can't. Because I can't get inside.
So as I sit here with my cat during the holiday season, pondering the invitations that I have to turn down, I ask that we revisit this question of Universal design, one that I have been told is "frivolous", "too expensive" and makes me sound as if I have a sense of entitlement.
I beg to differ. There is no inclusion without , for starters, physical access.