7 Ways Cities Could Do Better For Accessibility
Cities offer a wealth of opportunities, both in terms of jobs and accessibility. However, some of those same cities don’t have easily accessible sidewalks, transportation, or office buildings. Although there have been great improvements in accessibility, some cities still have many steps they can take to be more livable and convenient. With the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many cities are obligated to add detectable warning tiles to their sidewalks and curb cutouts. These are a step in the right direction, but not enough to make cities truly accessible and navigable for people with disabilities.
In 2017, a survey revealed that 20% of Americans living with disabilities encountered a barrier to a building, transportation, or service at least once every day. Another 12% said that these barriers occurred multiple times throughout an average day. Even in “accessible” cities, those with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed, and often that has everything to do with their ability to get to their job.
WalletHub, a consumer finance website, released a report in October 2018 that determined the best and worst cities for people with disabilities in the United States. Their rankings were based on 23 key metrics that covered the economic environment, health care, and accessibility. They applied these key metrics to the 150 most populated cities in the United States in an effort to help people with disabilities recognize the most accessible cities in the three categories: quality of life, economy, and healthcare.
At StrongGo, we believe that any time invested in research to improve and promote accessibility is important for all communities and their residents. StrongGo assists and encourages municipalities to improve their knowledge of ADA Compliant Tactile Detectable Warning products for all projects in the following locations, be it public or private:
- Wheelchair-accessible restaurants
- Wheelchair-accessible grocery stores
- Wheelchair-accessible entertainment and recreation
- Wheelchair-accessible trails
- Walkable park access
- City walkability
- Accessible buildings
- Accessible homes
Considering the results of this survey, we determined the best ways cities could improve overall accessibility. Here are 7 ways cities could do for better accessibility.
Curb cuts provide an easy way for people with disabilities to navigate from the sidewalk to street level. Curb cuts are particularly good for those with low vision, or people who use wheelchairs. Without a curb cut, a wheelchair could tip when trying to go from sidewalk to street level, and a person with low vision might misjudge the height of the curb and fall.
Mass Transit Detectable Dome Tiles
Detectable warning tiles signal to pedestrians that the sidewalk is going to become street. These detectable dome tiles can inform pedestrians of the direction to walk, or to slow down and take note of surroundings. For mass transit, detectable dome tiles remind transit users where to stand while waiting for public transportation and to keep a certain amount of space from the edge of the platform.
Cities can improve their accessibility by keeping their sidewalk repairs up to date. Sidewalks that become uneven or have broken areas are very difficult for people with disabilities to navigate, whether they are walking or using a wheelchair. To help improve city accessibility, sidewalks should be maintained more efficiently.
A simple way that city restaurants can offer more accessibility to their patrons is by having enough space between tables so that people with wheelchairs can navigate between tables. It’s also important for restaurants to have a wheelchair-accessible bathroom stall. Narrow entrances and steep stairs can also be deterrents for people who use wheelchairs, so restaurants should check for these and provide alternatives for all customers to use if needed.
Another priority to make city living accessible to people with disabilities is to make sure that homes are well-located with spacious design and elevators. While older buildings may not have the capacity to meet these requirements, developers planning new construction projects should consider how to provide for this demographic of the community.
Accessible Public Toilets
Many people with disabilities may choose not to go out because they have no access to usable toilets. Cities need to provide accessible bathrooms with accessible stalls and toilets. Cities that wish to become more accessible should plan for a certain number of accessible bathrooms in every area of the city.
Most public transport requires space for a wheelchair, but an accessible taxi option would be great for individuals who need a lift to and from hard-to-reach places. Most city taxis can only help people who are able to move in and out of a wheelchair. The option of Uber and Lyft have helped in some regards, but more can be done to make taxi options available to people with disabilities.
If you are working to improve mass transit and public areas, reach out to a StrongGo industry expert at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our TekWay detectable dome tiles.