The Law of Unintended Benefits, Part I

Some of the best things in life are unexpected.  So it is with accessibility and inclusion.  We work and prepare to make environments, such as sidewalks, offices, stores and cultural venues, accessible for people who have disabilities.  This is deliberate.  It is what happens afterwards that is unintended.

In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act decreed that sidewalks should be more accessible, complete with curb cuts for people with mobility disabilities.  A few years later studies of those curb cuts showed they were used most often by: delivery people such as UPS and FedEx, parents with children in strollers and people with bicycles.  The ADA did not plan for these groups of people to benefit from the curb cuts, yet they did.  Can you guess who likes ramps better than steps?

The Americans with Disabilities Act also decreed that indoor and outdoor signs should be made easier to read for people who have low vision.  Are we really shocked to discover beneficiaries include people who are, as the French say, of a certain age?  People who now sport bifocals and/or stronger lenses?

There are many aspects of accessibility and inclusion that have what I like to call unintended benefits.

Making your community, your business, your cultural venue more accessible will most certainly make more people happy than you ever thought possible.  These are people who will return simply because they feel more comfortable and more welcome.  You have made it easier for them to visit and do business.

More to come.

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