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Man in a wheelchair using a tablet witj assistive technology

By Denise Keene, guest blogger

Think about it. Did you have to stop and figure out a way to open and enter your front door today? Those of us who do not have to think about accessibility probably aren’t even fully conscious of the process of opening and entering a door. Unfortunately, this ease of use can cause us to take for granted the things that many people struggle with every day.

Here are just a few examples:

  • The presence of stairs at an entrance or exit: Unfortunately, there are still public buildings that are not easily accessible for people with disabilities. Even a four to five inch curb can impede someone from entering or exiting a building or other structure.
  • The height of a car seat: If you have trouble entering and exiting a car due to mobility impairment, you know that the height of the car seat makes all the difference. Thankfully, many car models now come with a feature that allows the driver or rider to raise or lower the height of the seat.
  • Getting in and out of the shower: Even stand up showers can be difficult to use for those with mobility impairments, because there is often a three to four inch step up. Also, showers that are wheelchair accessible still pose safety risks, as water can easily find its way to the area outside of the shower.
  • The height of the stove, kitchen sink and counter tops: If you love to cook, think about how difficult it would be to chop vegetables, cook pasta, put things in and take things out of the oven and clean dishes if you were in a wheelchair. Thankfully, there are ways to design a kitchen for accessible use.
  • Getting up from a seated position: This is yet another daily motion that most people take for granted. You may not realize it, but many muscles are put to work when you get up from a chair.
  • Using remotes, telephones, keyboards, etc.: Changing the channels on our television remotes, dialing numbers or texting on our cell phones, even using a toothbrush; these are all fine motor skills that are performed on an everyday basis without a second thought.
  • Using public restroom facilities: This may not be the most attractive thing to mention, but it is definitely important. For people with disabilities, using public restroom facilities can take some time and thought. From the height of the toilet seat, to the distance of the toilet paper holder from the toilet, even the distance of the soap and sink faucet from the edge of the counter; restroom use can pose quite a challenge.
  • Height of tables: If a kitchen or restaurant table is not high enough for a person to slide under in your wheelchair, they won’t be able to comfortably eat their meal.
  • Web Accessibility: For those with visual, hearing, cognitive or mobility impairments, web accessibility is vital to them being able to use the internet with ease. If online retailers, financial institutions, government agencies and others don’t take steps to make their sites accessible they won’t be available to all people.
  • Driving: Many people with disabilities are not capable of driving themselves and must depend on someone else to transport them to and from work, school or other activities. This decreases independence; something we all take for granted every day.
  • So, the next time you reach to open that door, think about all the people out there who may struggle with this task and be thankful that you can do it with ease.

Denise Keene has been a Special Education teacher for 15 years now and likes to write articles about various related topics. She also owns the site Masters In Special Education.