It’s a pity that journalists and others still refer to accessible places in terms such as “wheelchair friendly”. First it reduces disability down to one aspect of disability. Second, not all wheelchair users have the same conditions. Third, it perpetuates the idea that the accessibility is done and dusted.
An article in ArchitectureAU showcases a winner of the Victorian Government’s Future Homes pilot program. The winning design is a block of 12 apartments – a mix of one, two, and three bedroom units. The article states that some ground level apartments are designed for “full wheel-chair accessibility”.
It seems the apartment blocks are not designed with a lift. The gallery of pictures indicates that most apartments have the potential to have universal design features such as level entry and reasonable circulation spaces. It means, of course, that anyone living on level one or two will be disadvantaged if they acquire a mobility disability. What do they do then? It also means wheelchair users can’t visit neighbours on another floor. And let’s not forget family and friends who want to visit too. At least accessibility gets a mention.
Terms such as “fully accessible” and “wheelchair accessible” do not convey any useful information because the terms are too broad. These terms do not inspire confidence. The use of such terms indicates a passing reference to accessibility without understanding what is required. The spelling of ‘wheelchair’ is also not helpful.