Accessibility essential for equality


By JACOB MCGEE, Staff Reporter |

Jacob McGee
Jacob McGee

Can you imagine having a class on the second floor of a building and not have a way to get to that class? Or, what about living in a house where you cannot get through the doorways or get into the tub or shower? How about wanting to go somewhere and not having the means to get there? You can’t just call an Uber because they are not equipped to transport assistive devices. This is my worldview.  

Accessibility is defined as the design of products, devices, services or environments for people with disabilities as well as those who are unimpaired. As I am confined to a wheelchair, my first priority is always considering my wheelchair. From leaving and entering my house to showering to procuring transportation, accessibility to everything is paramount. 

The importance of accessibility in my own life equates to functionality and quality of life. In order for me and others like me, to contribute to society, we first have to be able to function in our environment. Whether at home, at school or in the workplace, adjustments have to be made to accommodate our differences. 

I face physical barriers everywhere I go so I’ve been learning to compensate since I was a baby. When accessibility is unavailable, I have two choices… participate or not participate. Like most other people, I love participating in my own life — actually, in life period! Just because my body doesn’t function correctly, doesn’t mean that I am less worthy of contributing to society. 

Accessibility levels the playing field for all. Since we are in God’s eyes, created equally, shouldn’t we all have the same right to access?

The Preamble to the Constitution even states that we are all equal. I know that our founding fathers probably had other things in mind, but in my particular circumstance, it means that all of us have the inalienable right to accessibility. That means that people like me can enter a building that has steps or get to the second floor. It means being able to access transportation that accommodates wheelchairs and assistive devices. It means being to get from the street to the sidewalk. It means having the ability to move through my house and take a shower or brush my teeth like those who don’t have physical differences. 

Accessibility doesn’t just affect the physically challenged. It affects those who have learning differences too. Their accessibility to the same learning is through accommodations in the classroom. 

Accessibility encompasses many different areas and environments. All of these arenas have one thing in common — we all have something to offer. In order for each one of us to contribute to society, we have to be willing to create equal access to those who have differences. 

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