Discrimination against disabled individuals is not only a violation of federal and state laws but also is extremely unethical and inconsiderate. In the assignment, an assessment of inclusivity and accommodation for disabled individuals in public places will be conducted. The assignment aims to meet the following five objectives: describing areas and sub-areas of public places, explaining relationships between environment and learning capabilities, rating described areas, reflecting on daily life experiences, and describing how individuals with disabilities function in the assessed environments.
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Describing Two Areas and Two Sub-Areas
For research purposes, the chosen areas will be evaluated from the perspective of a person who is transported in a wheelchair. The first public area for assessment included a public restroom in a local shopping mall. Space could accommodate four people since it had partitions for four visitors, which means that people had to wait in line outside the restroom doors during high visit times. Waiting in line to visit a restroom is not accommodating for people with disabilities. The restroom had a communal countertop with four sinks and a large mirror. Each sink had a soap dispenser. Only one towel dispenser and one hand dryer were available. When it comes to a sub-area of the restroom, the stalls will be discussed. According to ADA guideline recommendations, a toilet should be seventeen to nineteen inches high to be comfortable for most users (Wingler). However, the toilet in the restroom stall was fifteen inches high, which would make it harder for standing, lowering, and transferring from a wheelchair or a walker (Wingler).
Changing rooms in the same shopping mall is the second area chosen for evaluation. The researcher randomly selected a store and walked into the changing room area to assess its accessibility to disabled persons. The changing rooms were located in one row and were divided by partitions. Instead of curtains, each partition was enclosed by a heavy wood door with metal handles and a sophisticated-looking lock. The area gives an impression that the shop’s owners invested in interior design to appeal to customers. From the inside, the changing room was small and could fit a person in a wheelchair, but his or her ability to move around would be limited. It was brightly-lit and had a large rectangle mirror and some hooks on which clothes could be hanged. No bench or stool was present inside the room. A sub-area, the door, was of particular concern because it had a handle and a lock that had to be turned in a specific direction with a circular motion. While the mechanism looked expensive and interesting, the work one had to do to close the lock was too much of a problem.
There is a direct connection between an environment and the learning of a person with any disability. It has been argued that disability is not individual-inherent but is rather a concept that shows how a person can interact with physical and social environments (Haegele and Hodge 194). This means that the amount of disabilities and individuals has depended on the presence of limitations in the environment. In the context of learning, physical barriers such as inconvenient desks or the lack of space in classrooms can prevent disabled students from focusing on the information they are taught (Oliva 492). Also, the absence of social accommodations such as emotional support from teachers and classmates may limit students’ desire to learn.
In terms of rating the mentioned areas and sub-areas, it is evident that the sub-area of the changing room will be ranked as 5 – inadequate. The bathroom stall will be ranked as 4 due to its position while the general areas of both the restroom and the changing room will be ranked as 2. As mentioned previously, the position of the toilet is lower than required by the ADA. However, the door in the changing room had a complex lock system, which made it hard to open. Space did not have a bench either, which is a violation of the ADA compliance standards on dressing, fitting, and locker rooms.
A person with a disability other than restricted mobility can also find it challenging to function in the mentioned areas and sub-areas. For example, an individual with a visibility issue will experience a hard time opening and closing the changing room door due to the mechanism’s complexity. In a restroom stall, this individual will find it hard to position himself or herself on a toilet because it is located lower than usual. For another example, a person with a neurological condition such as epilepsy may hurt themselves when having a sudden seizure in a changing room or a stall by hitting their head on the walls since both areas are small and do not accommodate for much movement.
As evidenced by the assessment of public areas and sub-areas, there is a gap in accommodating disabled individuals in their daily activities (Krahn et al. 199). Reflecting on my personal experiences, I can conclude that their environment accommodates my needs and if not, my physical abilities can compensate for the lack of accommodation. For instance, I can stand in a line to a public restroom without experiencing any discomfort or sit lower on a toilet seat without having any difficulties standing up. When on public transport, it does not cross my mind that there is not enough space because even during rush hours, there is always a spot for one more abled person on a bus or subway carriage.
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Comparing my everyday life to people with disabilities, I must admit that the surrounding environment caters to me and limits individuals with vision loss or impaired mobility. There is a need for revising the approach to public spaces’ accommodation and make necessary changes in improving the accessibility for all people regardless of their disability. In addition, I stress the importance of social accommodation – being polite and understanding of others’ challenges will strengthen relationships between people and promote an inclusive environment not only in a physical sense.
In conclusion of the learning experience, it is imperative to note that there is a gap between the needs of the disabled community and the quality of accommodations provided in public areas. While it is possible that the location visited for the assessment is an outlier from the norm and that there are more disabled persons-friendly spaces than there are not friendly, the findings are still disappointing. Because the extent of one’s disability depends on the quality of interactions with the external environment, the key to success is improving these interactions instead of avoiding them.
ADA. “222 and 803 dressing, fitting, and locker rooms.” ADA, 2010, Web.
Haegele, Justin Anthony, and Samuel Hodge. “Disability Discourse: Overview and Critiques of the Medical and Social Models.” Quest, vol. 68, no. 2, 2016, pp. 193-206.
Krahn, Gloria, et al. “Persons with Disabilities as an Unrecognized Health Disparity Population.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 105, no. 2, 2015, pp. 198-206.
Oliva, Diana Villac. “Barriers and Resources to Learning and Participation of Inclusive Students.” Psicologia USP, vol. 27, no. 3, 2016, pp. 492-502.
Wingler, Wade. “Top 5 Things to Consider When Designing an Accessible Bathroom for Wheelchair Users.” Easterseals Crossroads. 2014, Web.