Stairs, ramps, and curb-cuts: Designing for everyone

If you were constructing an entrance to a building and were resource-constrained, would you build stairs or a ramp? Stairs make the building accessible to individuals who are able-bodied. The ramp makes the building accessible to everyone. Often we build stairs and then later add on the ramp. What if we were to consider access in the original design? 
This is a question that we can ponder as it relates to our own programs. Roughly one quarter of all people have disabilities. Some of these disabilities are visible, and some are not. Some are permanent, and some are temporary or life stage-related, such as the eye glasses we depend on at middle age. As accessibility expert Gwen Navarrete Klapperich reminds us, “Designing with accessibility in mind gives trainers the ability to reach diverse populations without making accommodations in the future.”
Accessibility expert Elizabeth Ralston offers us a different construction reference that expands our thinking beyond accessibility efforts to help the disabled. The Curb-Cut Effect refers to the effect that occurred after disability advocates successfully campaigned for small ramps to be cut into curbs so that wheelchairs could more easily cross streets in Berkeley, California in the 1970s. When curb cuts were implemented, everyone benefited: people in wheelchairs, parents pushing strollers, workers pushing heavy carts, etc. Ralston’s article about her work with arts organizations tells more about what we can learn from the impact of curb cuts and importance of universal design.

Gwen Navarrete Klapperich and Elizabeth Ralston are partnering to lead Designing Accessible Learning on October 7, 2021. This class will provide a framework for thinking about how to help learners with disabilities learn in your online or in-person session. You will learn about Universal Design for Learning principles and how to maximize accessibility in your virtual learning programs. You will leave the session with a short list of steps to make your learning programs more accessible. Join us!

Published by Nancy

I work at the intersection of learning, nonprofits, and leadership. I am a teacher, instructional designer, and nonprofit person who has worn every hat possible. I regular write, speak, and consult on learning strategy, design, and leadership.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: