2015 commemorates the 25th anniversary of the passing of the American’s with Disabilities Act. In the past 25 years we have seen a slow steady progression: from stop gap measures taken as an afterthought to include persons with disabilities, to the current movement which we have as a community in terms of universal design. Universal design in software, hardware, and environment refers to an aesthetic design that is inclusive to persons regardless of disability or equipment used.
When we think of accessibility we often think of wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms, and accessibility of technology for employment. While these concerns are crucial for real life they do not encapsulate the full experience of a person with a disability. A child in a wheel chair has a natural want and need to socialize just as any other child of their age. There is a sociological need for connection and normalcy.
Kudos to Millennium Park in Chicago for demonstrating a grasp of the wants and needs for persons with disabilities to be included in recreation.
Millennium Park exceeded the standards set out in the ADA by making inclusive ramps with a slope more gradual than dictated by ADA to ease use by persons with disabilities. They consulted with a wide breadth of nonprofit organizations in order to make sure the park set the standards for universal inclusive design. They made adaptation to ensure that white canes do not get stuck, kids in wheel chairs can participate in playing with water fountains, and that all trails are inclusive. For more information on Chicago’s Millennium park read here: Millennium Park sets accessibility standards, ADA 25 Chicago says