Chances are if you know people with disabilities or mobility-impaired older adults, you’ve witnessed firsthand the obstacles they face when navigating an often-inaccessible world. Unfortunately, most state contractors don’t build public buildings and community spaces with accessibility in mind, leaving those with mobility issues to fend for themselves. Additionally, long-stemmed ableist attitudes and practices also negatively impact disabled people’s mental and physical health, decreasing their overall well-being.
That said, building accessible spaces and working to end discriminatory practices is essential in pursuing a safe, comfortable community for disabled and non-disabled people alike. As a first step towards a brighter future, take inventory of your community and push community leaders to prioritize accessibility efforts. Read on for five ways you can advocate for your loved ones and move towards a disability-friendly future.
Equip those in your immediate network with reliable mobility aids
A seemingly simple solution for many mobility-based impairments is equipping people with secure aids to reduce the risk of falling or injury. Unfortunately, an increasing number of disabled people cannot acquire the proper equipment due to a lack of funds or availability, leaving many at risk for further bodily damage and pain. To sidestep this dangerous inconvenience, many disability advocates set up fundraisers in the interest of collecting mobility aids for people in their community, removing the financial burden from mobility-impaired individuals.
However, advocates should make sure to purchase high-quality, reliable mobility aids to ensure their loved ones will be safe and avoid potential damage. Whether it’s an electric wheelchair, a sturdy cane, or an upright walker like this, your loved one will be able to move about with confidence and security.
Push for more accessible public spaces
An essential part of advocating for accessibility is ensuring public spaces are fully open for people with all disabilities. Unfortunately, many buildings, especially older blueprints, are void of ramps, accessible routes, elevators, and spacious bathroom stalls, making them nearly impossible for mobility-impaired people to navigate the space. Thankfully, you can help push for change by reporting buildings without proper accessibility features to your local government or ADA and potentially boycott businesses who refuse to update their structures.
Advocate for equal employment opportunity
Unfortunately, many people with disabilities experience unfair treatment at work and during hiring processes, leaving them with financial burdens and potentially long periods of unemployment. While there are laws to protect people from employment discrimination, violations often go unnoticed and unreported, which is why non-disabled people should actively advocate for change wherever possible. Whether it’s aiding in your loved one’s job search, standing up for injustice in your workplace, or helping victims report violations, you should be ready to extend a hand when necessary.
Contact local government
Another excellent way to ensure violations and discriminatory practices don’t go unnoticed is to contact your local government and ADA departments and check up on inquiries frequently. Though it may not seem like a simple call or complaint will enact change, consistent pressure on duty-bound officials can prompt investigations and needed modifications, all of which add up over time.
Creating an accessible community for mobility-impaired individuals in your area can be challenging and frustrating as you push back against long-standing ableist beliefs and inaccessible structures. However, by advocating for updated ADA regulations, accessibility features, and equal employment, you can spark much-needed discussions and enact positive change.