Eliminating barriers for an individual upon request (accommodation) is good and important. Better is creating an inclusive environment for all (accessibility)
Accessibility and accomodation are the two major aspects responsible to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities.
While accomodation speaks about catering to specific individual needs, accessibility emphasises on the needs of the entire disabled community.
However persons with disabilities prefer an accessible inclusive environment over an accommodative one as accommodation is not just restricted to infrastructure. It could but also services, programmes and policies, like flexibility in timing, change in curriculum, extra leave, and extra time for writing an exam. etc.
Accommodations are always based on a particular individual. When some people may need less accommodation others may need more.
Accomodation is an afterthought. It could be a short term solution. Sometimes, it could even segregate people if not done carefully (for instance Railways have added a so called disabled friendly coach at the rear end of the train to make it accessible).
On the other hand, accessibility (universal design) is a broader term coined by architect Ronald Mace, to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.
It also holds good for policies and processes as well.
For example, an examination bed at the hospital/clinic which has adjustable height is an example of universal design of a product. The high examination bed that is available at most clinics requires people to climb a stool to get to the bed. However it has failed to take into account the majority number of patients or doctors using the bed.
Another example is JAWS, a screen reading software. It is an additional software to be added to Windows to make it accessible. If Narrator, which is inbuilt in Windows, is upgraded by Microsoft with all features of a screen reader, it will make Windows a universally designed product/technology.
On the whole it is not wrong to say that both accommodation as a short term and solution, and accessible and inclusive society during the long term needs to be created in order to help persons with disabilities be in power with the rest of the society.
Disability Entrepreneurship And Leadership (DEAL) Foundation works across the districts of Gadag and Bengaluru. Our main aim is to promote sustainable livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities. We work to create an accessible environment where persons with disabilities are able to come in power with the rest of them.
We promote awareness through meetings, conferences and trainings within the community we work with.
For any questions one might have regarding the blog please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To know more about the work we do, please log on to www.deal-foundation.com.