Almost one-quarter of the way into the 21st century, disabled people continue to face barriers in the communities where they live and work.
An example illustrating this ongoing challenge is the Hunters Point Library in Queens, New York. The library, originally lauded for its unique design, prominently features a five-level terrace that houses its collection of books. However, a striking drawback is that three of these levels are ONLY accessible via stairs. The library’s opening garnered national media attention, but it was also met with a significant social media backlash due to its inaccessibility. The architectural firm responsible for the library’s design is currently entangled in a $10 million lawsuit over this accessibility issue.
What can be done to improve these situations?
While the built environment plays a crucial role in accessibility, it’s equally important to acknowledge that consulting and strategic planning are not only nice but necessary for achieving inclusivity. Good consultation ensures that accessibility goes beyond mere compliance with physical standards; it aims to cultivate a culture where everyone, regardless of their abilities, can fully participate in the built environment.
In many cases, it’s the absence of effective consulting and the failure to incorporate disability perspectives that lead to such oversights, as seen in instances like the Hunters Point Library in Queens, New York.
Admittedly, it is pretty.