COVID and accessibility

A street bench has yellow tape across it so that people cannot sit. We live in a world of sanitsation and social distancing, but who is asking how COVID impacts accessibility? Staying at home is familiar to many people with disability. It’s not new to many older people either. Perhaps that’s why COVID and accessibility is not a topic of immediate concern for policy makers. However, there is a story to tell here. 

Claire Francis and Katie Jennings say they can’t help but notice that access has taken a back seat. Here is an excerpt from their article in a short Sensory Trust blog article:

“From the tight one-way systems in the local shop to the removed seating in venues and public spaces it’s high time that we rethink how access and safety can co-exist. Coronavirus seemingly came out of nowhere leaving venues with little time to adjust and amend to become safe, but it seems like these measures have come at the expense of essential access provisions.”

They discuss the effects of safety measures and how these can aggravate existing difficulties. Mask-wearing and one-way entries are just two. Cities need to adapt to our need for safe distancing in outdoor spaces. Creating space between seats by using planter boxes is one way to sit and social distance. It’s also time to re-think the width and quality of footpaths.

The Sensory Trust in UK has other good resources.