December 13, 2022

At Some Time or Another…We Will All Experience Changes in Ability

Meet Christina. For her entire life, Christina has been healthy, active, and independent. As an adult, she has led a busy professional life, enjoyed daily exercise workouts, and took softball very seriously!  Christina is always one who gets involved and takes action. Then something happened. While at an amusement park this fall, a friend she was with slipped on a curb and Christina instinctively reached out to help, and as she did, her right foot was in an awkward position resulting in a fracture. It can happen that quickly. Slips, trips, and falls account for a vast majority of accidents. 

Christina has experienced a temporary change in ability. For the next eight weeks, she must depend on a wheelchair for mobility while keeping her right foot elevated. This situation being new to her, we decided to see what barriers, if any, impact Christina’s mobility and independence. Our research revealed:

  • People with disabilities have daily stress not knowing if they can get in places.
  • People with disabilities worry about their daily experience.
  • Implementing a Universal Design strategy into your built environment eliminates barriers allowing individuals to maintain their independence.

So, what is Universal Design? Universal Design (UD) is an approach to user centered design thinking that enables and empowers people with diverse abilities. In other words, UD is a deliberate integration of strategies that eliminates physical and social barriers resulting in truly inclusive environments. These strategies have the potential to make daily and work life healthier, more productive, safer, and friendlier for everyone whether you have a temporary or permanent disability.

As we toured the building, Christina and I encountered several areas that she could access and others that were difficult. Previously as an able-bodied, independent person, and now with a temporary set-back, we learned the following:

Adopting UD strategies is a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to support your workforce by creating spaces that respond to life changes.

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