Accessible: Not what you think

A man in a wheelchair is separated from the crowd by a low concrete barrierIt takes much more than a ramp to make a place or space accessible. It might allow entry and access for people who use mobility devices, but it doesn’t make for equity or inclusion. This is a well argued point in a Time magazine article. “Accessibility should be a catalytic force for something more” says Eddie Ndopu. It’s a “slippery, deceptive word that belies its own emancipatory meaning”.

Ndopu uses the term “accessibility” as meaning inclusion, where perhaps others might use inclusive or universal design. As many others have stated before, technical compliance does not always provide access, let alone inclusion. He discusses how accessibility, in the various interpretations, is, indeed, slippery. It implies freedom but does not deliver the goods. 

A well-written and thoughtful read based on personal experience. A good reminder that for all the words, the intentions of those words are yet to be realised.

The title of the article is, It’s Time to Rethink the Language of Accessibility. And to Imagine a More Equal World.

The caption for the image in the magazine shows Eddie Ndopu, who has a degree from Oxford, works for the UN and plans to go to space. 

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