With more than one billion people in this world living with some form of disability, ‘persons with disability’ have become one of the largest groups of minorities in this world. The barriers that these people face in different aspects of participating with the society are unlimited. Societal attitudes, discrimination, legislation or policies, information and communications technology, and they physical environment are just a few examples of the types of barriers that the disabled community faces in their everyday lives.
With this in mind the theme for this year’s International day of Person’s with Disability is: Remove barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all.
In today’s blog post we will contribute to this cause by highlighting some architectural and communication barriers that disabled people face.
The lack of ramps, signage, railings, adequate spacing, braille print, accessible chairs and toilets, slip resistant floors, wash basins, shelves, switches, telephones, and taps at an accessible height is a common example of the architectural barriers faced by the disability community. With these minor adaptations in building structures, disabled people can feel much more at ease and get by with their daily routines while not having to depend on any support or help. Simply being more self – reliant helps a lot in improving the confidence of a disabled person and also helps a lot in avoiding unnecessary delays.
Disabled people facing communication barriers are the ones that suffer the most when it comes to socializing. Speech and language is what bounds communication. The fact is that every person needs to communicate in their day – to – day living. Some major barriers in communication faced by disabled people are lack of braille material/newspapers/magazines/Government Orders etc., lack of readers, lack of sign language and sign language interpreters for people with hearing impairments, communication aids, and lack of technical devices for people suffering from severe disabilities. But one of the biggest communication barriers is sadly the lack of importance given to researching on ‘Alternative and Augmentative Communication’.
Here I’d like to mention an American television show ‘Switched at Birth’ that airs on ABC Family. Though the main focus of the story is on how two teenage girls accidently were switched at birth, the series beautifully brings to light the obstacles and problems that are faced by deaf people trying to mainstream with the rest of the society. It highlights numerous barriers faced by ‘Daphne’, one of the teenage girls who lost her hearing as a child due to a case of meningitis.
Television programmes like this should be given more support and promotion to increase the general public’s knowledge and understanding towards the barriers faced by disabled people and the different ways through which they can contribute to make their lives easier.