Disability and Physical Barriers


Many barriers that people with disabilities face are physical or architectural barriers. Physical barriers happen when features of buildings or spaces limit people’s access. For instance, some physical disability barriers are:

Physical Barriers

These and other physical barriers limit life for people with different disabilities. For example, stairs without ramps or elevators deny access to people using wheelchairs. Likewise, stairs may also limit the access of people with invisible physical disabilities. For instance:

  • Arthritis
  • Difficulties with balance, energy level, or pain level
  • Heart or lung conditions

Furthermore, low lighting makes it hard for people who are deaf to communicate visually. Similarly, low lighting also limits access for people who are visually impaired.

Barrier Removal Helps Everyone

Therefore, organizations that can remove or prevent physical barriers become more welcoming to people with and without disabilities. For instance, stair-free access, wide paths, and automatic doors, are often useful to:

  • Families with small children
  • Parents with strollers
  • Shoppers with bags or carts
  • Travellers with luggage

In other words, many people find barrier-free spaces helpful. However, for people with disabilities, removing barriers is not only a help, but a need. Therefore, organizations should prevent or remove barriers whenever they can. For example, organizations can have:

  • Accessible sidewalks and parking
  • Ramped or level building entrances
  • Automatic doors and wide doorways
  • Good lighting and colour contrast
  • Elevators or lifts
  • Accessible washrooms
  • Wide aisles and hallways
  • Accessible line areas, waiting areas, and service counters

Our next article will consider how organizations can implement these and other solutions for physical barriers.




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