Disability Accessibility – How You and Your Community Can ImproveHenry Wasserman
Around 13% of the American population live with a disability. Disabilities vary, some are mental, others physical. Some disabilities can affect motor function while someone else might be disabled due to an accident.
With so many people in the USA being disabled, it makes sense that so many of them struggle with accessibility. Many disabled people struggle with getting in and out of buildings. This might be a public building, their workplace, or even their own home or gated community. For those who are wheelchair bound or who use a walking aid, access problems like this can make life a lot harder to live.
The below chart, built by GDR, is a brilliant insight into the large scope of disabilities out there in the USA. The disabilities aren’t all visible, and there’s a lot there that can make general community access pretty difficult.
There are methods out there that can greatly improve disabled access in general, no matter what the disability is, making it easier for everyone to gain entrance to, and exit, a community property.
Remote Cellular Control Can Improve Disabled Access
Nimbio is a remote access solution that allows you to gain access via an app on your smartphone. The smartphone app can unlock entry gates, pedestrian gates, and even common area doors too. For the disabled who can use a smartphone, it’s a revolutionary bit of property technology that just makes life a whole lot easier for those with mobility issues and wider disabilities.
It also makes life easier for the able bodied, so it’s an easy sell if you can position the proposition in an effective way to the wider community..
Cellular control works in a simple way. You open the relevant app (such as Nimbio access control) and tap the button and the gate will open. You can also, if you hold a master key, enable or disable the access others have to the gate.
Cellular access is great because if you have disabled access concerns and are worried about the gate being locked or not, you can simply check on the app and make sure it’s closed from there without having to bother yourself by getting up and checking.
Use Pin Code Access? Install An Accessible Version
If you’re part of a gated community, or live in an apartment or anywhere you need to enter a keycode to get into the property you should consider installing another pin pad so it’s more accessible to you.
For those in wheelchairs, it’s paramount. Usually, wheelchair users can’t reach pin pads. Speak to whoever is in charge and advocate for a lower pin code access point so that you, and others with disabilities, can reach.
Alternatively, an easier option is to install a cellular access control solution, like the above mentioned Nimbio, to open the gate or unlock the door remotely without having to awkwardly reach for a pinpad.
You can use a system like Nimbio in conjunction with a pin pad too…it’s not like you’re replacing one for another, even though the cellular access system will probably be more popular. The reality is that some people might not like using a smartphone for access and will prefer to continue using the aged pin entry system. The main benefit is that smartphone access is far more secure than pin entry. It’s easier to misplace a code than a phone.
Older Gated Communities Usually Have Disabled Access Concerns
Disabled access is a must but unfortunately, in older gated communities, it can be a problem. There are a few reasons why, but the main one is that when these communities were initially built there was less emphasis on inclusivity and ensuring everyone’s needs were met.
As such, acquiring access for disabled people can be a lot harder in older communities. Not just because of an electric gate or door, but in terms of steps and a lack of ramps.
Remember, in this day and age modern technology allows you to turn any electric gate into a smart gate. If there is already an existing gate or door in the community that isn’t fit for purpose when taking disability into account, you can quite easily get things changed.
Speak to your HOA or community manager. Hopefully, they’ll be pretty appalled that the system in place isn’t fit for purpose and will agree with your plan to upgrade all access points to cellular access.
At the same time, take the opportunity to do what you can to raise awareness. Maybe it’s finally time to upgrade wheelchair accessibility and to procure better signage for those with partial sight. Speak to a few members of the community. The likelihood is that there are more with disabilities than you’d imagine, and even if there aren’t, members might have disabled family and friends who would like to visit more often but can’t due to the poor access for disabled people.
Once you’ve got people on side, you can present a business case to the wider community and finally upgrade your gated community access to one that is cellular in nature.
Other Physical Disability Access Problems
Ensuring electric gates and common doors are easy to access with a system like Nimbio is one thing, but there are other aspects of disability access that can be improved. Think about the areas that people need access to and whether or not they offer disabled access. These areas can include:
- Elevators (the call button has to be of a neutral height, so that it’s wheelchair accessible)
- Wheelchair ramps on all stairs
- Community restroom accommodations (you only need to worry about this if there is a communal restroom in your gated community. Sometimes, those that have an on site gym or tennis court will have a restroom too. It needs to be disability friendly. Another great example is that of a community laundry room.
Disabled Parking (again, only if there is communal parking. If your gated community comprises apartments rather than houses, you’ll likely have communal parking.
- Appropriate signage (so that disabled visitors know the best way to go)
In reality these aren’t too difficult to implement. The community just needs to pull together to make sure the area is accessible. Remember, there are laws governing disability access that need to be followed when undertaking building works. It’s why new gated communities might be more accessible than older ones. The laws vary from state to state, too. So check them out before making wholesale changes to aspects of the community because they might be able to guide you.
Remember, if you aren’t disabled yourself, and are just looking to make the community access better for others, you’d be better speaking to someone who is disabled first. Getting first hand experience of the problems disabled people face in the community allows you to get any changes needed right the first time around.
Disability In The Community
There’s a lot of education being done at the moment regarding what actually constitutes a disability. The CDC has put together comprehensive research on the subject. In the USA, the percentage of adults with functional disability types are:
- 13.7% with a mobility disability
- 10.8% with a cognitive disability
- 6.8% with an independent living disability (trouble carrying out errands alone)
- 5.9% Healing disability
- 4.6% Vision disability
- 3.7% self care (can’t look after themselves)
It simply highlights how there is a clear need for disabled access in the community. Being able to use a smartphone to open electronically locked doors can literally change someone’s life. Access for disabled people is a concern that usually only comes around if there is a disabled person in the community. But, with one in four Americans being disabled, you can almost guarantee that there will, at some point, be someone in your community with a disability.
The first step might be in running a campaign on disabled access or the lack there of in your locale. Spreading awareness will make people more sympathetic to your cause and ensure they’re predisposed to agree to your cellular access proposals. Do it in a tactful way and you’ll soon accrue more support in your local community. Show them how difficult the current set up is for the disabled and demonstrate how modern prop tech can make a huge difference to people’s lives. It’s important to show how something like a cellular smart gate makes a difference to everyone’s life, not just the disabled.
How to Spread Awareness
If you live in a sprawling gated community with hundreds of families it can be hard to spread awareness. If you have regular meetings, that’s a perfect opportunity to start spreading awareness. There are some brilliant disability awareness videos you can show on YouTube. You can also create a quick presentation to show people how ill-equipped your current community is. Here are some other tips:
- Collect case studies from residents
- Utilize any Facebook group or social media group you might have to reach everyone in the community
- Use posters or leaflets near areas that are unfriendly to the disabled (be sure it doesn’t look too tacky. You need to get people on side)
How you go about it depends on the size of your gated community, as well as the general mood. If you live in a friendly community with a good HOA for example, posters might be fine. On the other hand if you don’t have a great relationship with your HOA, posters might be a bad idea. Make sure whatever action you take around spreading awareness for disability access, you ensure it’s bespoke to your own situation.
Read up on the HOA law in your area. You never know, there might be something in there that pertains to disabled access. If the community isn’t following the rules by providing disabled access, you’ve got an amazing reason to start implementing disabled access changes across your community. Some might start with an electric smart gate, or smart access controls for apartments while other communities might want to start with demolishing steep steps.
Personal Residence Access For Disabled
Perhaps you have a disability yourself and want to improve your own premises. It could be a partner, or maybe some staff who help out around your home have a disability. If you don’t live in a wider gated community, you can still make things better for your own home.
It of course depends on the home that you have. For example, if you have a gate security system on hand at your current home or you’ve just moved to a home that has an electric gate you can simply upgrade it to a cellular access gate to ensure there’s better disabled access. Remember, you can make any gate a smartgate. Not just an outdoor access gate.
You can use a cellular access gate on any door you see fit. If you think it’ll benefit you and make life easier for your family, having access to certain areas lockable via smartphone can give you peace of mind.
Of course, if you implement standard home changes along with installing cellular access options, things will be even easier. Permanent ramps up steps and difficult areas are a must, and you can even use a stair lift. More than 100,000 stair lifts are sold every year in America. They’re rising in popularity as disability awareness increases year after year and they provide unique access for disabled persons. They can be used up multiple floors, or even just up a few steps.
Disability awareness might gradually be getting better, but there are still huge hurdles to overcome. If you can make your community and home disability friendly you’ll be taking large steps in the right direction to make things easier for yourself, or for others now, and in the future.
Nimbio is a cellular, keyless entry system that can help you make things better for those who struggle. If you’re not convinced, take a look at our testimonials. Our blog is also full of useful content for those thinking about using a cellular electric gate and about property technology in general. If there’s anything you were worried about, such as disabled usage, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you out.