Have you ever considered a day out that is completely stress-free? Perhaps a day in London? Have you ever had to plan ahead to ensure every part of your trip is stress- free? With your children? Parents? Grandparents? When not travelling on your own, you may have had to consider other things… Booking a table, booking tickets? High chairs? Mobility with a pram or a wheelchair? Possibly even had to check the weather to work out alternate routes? For some, this level of thought and consideration has to be a part of everyday life due to poor design, be it online or in the environment, poor design makes life unnecessarily challenging.
I’m pretty sure if we all thought ‘inclusive’ life would be easier for us all. Simple things for many become very difficult, for many and it shouldn’t and needn’t be that way. Of course it is lovely to have things look pretty, symmetrical, bright colours, unusual contrasts, different text styles but unfortunately pretty or quirky does not necessarily equal practical. This goes for most things. I’ve experienced quirky staircases with quirky carpets that made me more dizzy than normal, I’ve experienced unbearable lighting glistening and blinding on a hallway full of mirrors. I’m sure pretty to many but blinding and totally disorienting for many.
I often work in large cities and whilst I understand older buildings have been in place for a long time, it is harder to make these more accessible, however for more modern buildings accessibility and usability should have been very high on the list of design. That said, in many of the cities I have visited or worked in, glass seems to be the big thing. Glass is reflective, transparent or mirrored it often has handles, or even no handles that are next to impossible to navigate.
Often glass that is reflective, it often isn’t tinted or sometimes there will have stickers to indicate a glass wall. I have also been stood in a lift wondering why it wasn’t moving to discover the glass doors hadn’t closed. These buildings often have little soft furnishings, therefore acoustically challenging for anybody particularly for people with hearing impairment/ deaf people.
With regards to dining out or staying away for the night lighting can be a central issue for many including myself. Not only can it be disorientating to physically see and to navigate to and from the toilet but also having obstacles when eating food off a plate. To ask for help from staff in these conditions can be a challenge when unable to see faces the result of “romantic lighting.” Going to the toilet when the lighting is sketchy can not only be tricky but when the lighting changes from one room to a hall way to another room can trigger dizziness or for some vertigo which is quite disorientating. I personally blow out any candles that are set on my table when I sit which can be awkward however it reduces pain for my sensitive eyes.
Stairs, steps escalators and lifts – all such inconsistent features from building to building – new and old buildings. As a Guidedog owner we would always steer towards stairs as not all Guidedogs are trained on escalators. One commonly used command “find the step,” enables the dog to put two paws up to notify the owner there is a step ahead. This is great when it works however when steps are designed in an unlikely format ie) trying to look trendy – I feel it even confuses a working dog. A lot of steps at stations you find either tactile dots or yellow strips to indicate the structure of the steps – and where they start and end. This can be useful however incredibly inconsistent and often not well kept. Fancy carpets together with dim lighting is challenging when struggling with little or no depth conception! You might have noticed older people tend to shuffle when they are uncertain. I’ve often heard tutting when I’m taking my time because I’m unsure, it’s exactly the same for the elderly and whilst you might not know anybody like myself everybody will know an older person who’s a touch slower than they used to be.
Could I respectfully ask we all consider each other and apply patience and whilst doing so think inclusive.
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