Nonotuck works with disabled people to help them live full and vibrant lives. Together we seek to build many authentic relationships, friendships and associations in their neighborhood and larger community. But community activities like working, volunteering, attending events and visiting friends would be difficult without accommodations to public and government facilities that make them more accessible.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law 30 years ago, it helped usher in an era of accessible design. Part of the federal civil rights legislation, which was written to address discrimination on the basis of disability, established standards for modifications to buildings, rooms, products, communications and other features that help people with disabilities use them more fully.
Elements of accessible design are all around us. They include wheelchair ramps, handrails, automatic doors, braille markings and closed captioning.
Some design elements are so common you may no longer notice them. Take curb cuts, for example, the downward slope of a sidewalk where it meets a street.
An article from Disability Science Review says the first curb cuts were installed after World War II to help veterans with disabilities. Today, the writer points out, curb cuts benefit parents pushing strollers, people pulling wheeled suitcases, senior citizens who are unsteady on their feet and many others. They’ve become so common and benefit so many different types of users that many people have forgotten they were initially designed just for people with disabilities.
This is part of the “curb cut effect,” the writer says. That’s the “idea that things that help people with disabilities can benefit everyone.”
Another example is captions and transcripts of videos, designed for the hard of hearing, which can help students, those in sound-sensitive environments, or those having difficulty interpreting a person’s accent or difficult information.
Making the world easier for people with disabilities to navigate and participate in has far-reaching effects. By removing barriers and improving access, accommodations for people with disabilities enrich lives and improve communities every day.
Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.