Turning disability into accessibilityFebruary 28, 20192 min read
As communities grow and modernize – are we making the proper accommodations for those with disabilities to live a fulfilling, productive, and independent life?
It’s a popular topic and one that we are now seeing being advocated more in many areas of everyday life. Accessibility laws and expectations are now ensuring that all aspects of education, business, transit, and health care are made available to everyone.
The concept is sound – but how are we as a community developing reasonable accommodations and community resources that allow all people to participate in the community and successfully live their life? Often, it’s not a matter of intentional exclusion, rather the issue simply hasn’t been considered and no plan exists.
And there are costs to not having a plan in place. Not addressing these “social determinants of health” (housing, transportation, etc.) affect healthcare outcomes and raise costs of hospitals, social services, and health care. Addressing these issues and improving accessibility may actually increase societal health, decrease long-term societal healthcare costs, and bolster the tax base.
But as we move forward there are a lot of questions in the community about how to approach accessibility:
- What mechanisms are in place to gather input on needs, identify barriers, and consider requests for accommodation?
- What types of accessibility needs exist of the people who will use different community settings? (Physical, cognitive, sensory, emotional, developmental, etc.)?
- What types of accessibility barriers exist (architectural, environmental, attitudinal, financial, transportation, etc.)?
- How much do different accommodations cost?
- How can community settings partner with people with disabilities and/or health and human service providers?
- What specific ways can accessibility improve societal health?
And that’s where the experts from CARF can help. Christine M. MacDonell is the Managing Director of Medical Rehabilitation and International Aging Services/Medical Rehabilitation at CARF International. She can address the issue of accessibility as it relates to people who have experienced brain injury, stroke, cancer, amputation, and spinal cord injury. Christine is available to speak with media regarding this topic – simply click on her icon to arrange an interview.