Boosting Accessibility Through Universal Design

An article for TechVibes by Erik Mclaren highlights how businesses can benefit from boosting accessibility through universal design. Experts in accessibility and universal design recently came together at the DMZ, a business forum for technology startups based out of Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. Panelists agreed that there has been progress in making urban environments more accessible, but there is more to be done.

Companies have a financial interest in making their businesses more accessible and creating accessible products, taking into account customers with mobility limitations, cognitive disabilities, or other differences. If one member of a family or group of friends cannot access, for example, a restaurant, the restaurant loses out on the business of the whole party. Rather than ambitiously envisioning large-scale change, it can be more immediately beneficial to consider simple changes that can be made quickly. New companies should ensure that their products and spaces are accessible from the get-go, which is easier than retrofitting or changing existing structures or systems.

Companies should avoid having preconceived notions about who their customers are and what they want, look like, and can do. Sometimes not everyone can be accommodated, but using the principles of universal design ensures that accessibility is optimal for the greatest number of people possible. Curb cuts and audio alerts about upcoming stops on buses are accessibility features that all users come to appreciate. Everyone benefits from accessibility, and people’s abilities can change, permanently or temporarily, at any time.

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