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Accessibility barriers: what are they and how to overcome them?

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What is accessibility for you? The first things that usually go through people’s minds are: access ramps, exclusive parking spaces, preferred seats on the bus, or perhaps adapted restrooms for people using wheelchairs. Well, these examples are not wrong, but is accessibility limited to that? The answer is no! People with disabilities face several accessibility barriers on a daily basis, which go far beyond physical spaces.

Today we are going to talk about the three main groups: architectural, communicational and attitudinal

What are accessibility barriers?

Accessibility barriers are found everywhere, whether in physical or virtual environments. This happens because we live in a world built by and for people without disabilities. Due to lack of information, most people do not usually think about the challenges that people with disabilities face in their daily lives to adapt to this system. However, they are found on the internet, on the streets, in commercial and public establishments, and others.

What are the accessibility barriers?

Architectural accessibility barriers:

Architectural accessibility barriers are all kinds of obstacles that prevent people from enjoying and occupying physical spaces. They are the easiest to identify and are present both in homes and commercial establishments, as well as in public places.

People who do not depend on accessibility resources to get around hardly notice the structure of streets, sidewalks, and the quality of crosswalks. But this is very important for those who depend on crutches or a wheelchair, for example. They need to think carefully about the path before leaving home.

It is also essential that shopping malls, museums, schools, or any other establishments prioritize architectural accessibility so that people with physical disabilities can have more autonomy to get around. 

Building an accessible environment should be a priority from the beginning of the project, as it is much easier to build it from scratch without accessibility barriers, than to create them and then remove the built barriers. After all, establishments without accessibility are subject to fines. Therefore, not including people with disabilities cannot be an option for a business with a future!

Communicational accessibility barriers:

Another aspect that affects the lives of people with disabilities is communication. Mainly for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or with low vision, with intellectual disabilities, among others.

There are many accessibility barriers when it comes to communication. This is one of the most challenging to overcome, since human beings are social, extremely communicative and not very inclusive in this aspect.

It is through communication that we receive information, acquire knowledge, interact and even make our purchases. Perhaps you can imagine what it’s like to experience communication barriers for real if you’ve ever visited a country that doesn’t speak your language. It is quite challenging to perform basic everyday activities without being able to communicate, right?

Examples of accessibility barriers in communication:

Barriers to interpersonal communication:

When trying to talk to someone who is deaf or hard of hearing who communicates in ASL (American Sign Language), you will certainly have difficulty understanding them if you do not know this language. That’s why it’s so important that hearing people seek to learn it. You can start practicing right now for free with the Hand Talk App!

Barriers to text communication:

Most people are not aware of it, but 80% of deaf people in the world have difficulties with spoken languages, due to the lack of access to education. So, most of them end up not learning information that is not accessible in ASL. That’s why it’s essential that texts on websites have translation in American Sign Language, and soon you will be able to count on automatic resources, such as the Hand Talk Plugin. This tool translates all written content on the page into ASL. 

Virtual barriers:

In a world that is getting more and more technological, digital accessibility barriers have grown. According to a study carried out by WebAim in 2020, less than 2% of the websites in the United States are accessible for people with disabilities. It is perceived in the lack of alternative texts in the images for blind people who use screen readers to navigate or in the lack of automatic translation of the content written on the pages into Sign Language, among many other issues.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still think that making a website accessible is hard work and not worth it, but, following a few simple tips, the process is easy and brings incredible results, such as improving the page positioning in Google searches, being positive for the brand image, increasing your audience and much more!

Attitudinal accessibility barriers:

The most difficult barriers to perceive are the ones built by ourselves. But luckily, they are the easiest to break down, and the ones that have the greatest impact on people’s lives.

Some of our attitudes towards people with disabilities can reinforce communicational and architectural barriers. They are our judgments, beliefs and stereotypes. It is common to have prejudices, however, it is necessary to end them. But for that, we need to seek information and be willing to know more about others, regardless of who it is!

How to eliminate accessibility barriers?

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to get rid of prejudice and do our part to break down accessibility barriers in society. Seeking information and communicating is always the best way to start the transformation. To fulfill our role, we need to be inclusive people. Talking with people with disabilities, studying the subject, reporting establishments that are not accessible, demanding that companies have digital accessibility on their websites, etc! 

Always count on Hugo’s Blog to learn more!🙂

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