Disable people make up 15 per cent of the global population, and this feature from BBC highlights how many of the solutions needed for this pandemic, like remote work, are the same ones that disabled people have been asking from their employers for years.
Today millions of non-disabled people are experiencing what it’s like to have outside forces preventing them from participating in everyday life. Businesses have been quick to pivot to remote work, but this feature highlights the lack of accessibility that still exists across the business landscape. It cites a survey of 27,000 retail outlets that says 20 per cent don’t provide access to wheelchair users.
And with the novel coronavirus forcing businesses to close up shop, experts are worried that accessibility will take an even greater backseat.
“I worry what will happen instead is that lots of the regulations will be softened after the pandemic, because businesses will say, we couldn’t afford to be more accessible before – and we definitely can’t afford it now because we lost so much money during the lockdown,” says Mik Scarlet, an expert in the field of access and inclusion for disabled people, who was quoted in the story.
One necessary part of changing the system is listening to more voices, says Mikaela Patrick, inclusive design researcher at the Global Disability Innovation Hub. The hub’s research shows that one billion disabled people around the world today lack access to necessary assistive technology like wheelchairs, hearing aids, walking sticks or accessible mobile devices.