Few issues affect people with disabilities more this time of year than the weather.
It’s true that weather is unpredictable. But winter weather, especially in parts of the country where snow, slush, and ice can stretch for months, is also inevitable. It doesn’t come as a surprise. So, why isn’t there adequate preparation to make it easier for people with disabilities to get around?
After a snowstorm, when snow accumulates and then gets plowed and piled high, people who get around with the use of wheelchairs, mobility scooters, walkers, and canes have difficulty navigating sidewalks, curb cuts, ramps, entryways, and parking lots. And the snow that turns to ice is exponentially more dangerous for people with visual disabilities who can’t see the danger in front of them.
The alternatives cannot be to stay indoors or move to Florida. Municipalities and employers need to take a proactive role and design a comprehensive approach to winter weather. Can universal design apply to winter weather? Absolutely! After all, universal design is about creating solutions that work for the broadest range of people, regardless of their diverse needs or abilities. And while snow and ice present a more significant threat for people with disabilities, hazardous weather conditions are problematic for everyone’s mobility.
The first step in becoming more disability-friendly in winter is recognizing the need to make a change. Perform an evaluation to determine the sources of the biggest winter weather roadblocks. Reach out to my team and me to help you evaluate your situation and offer accessible solutions. By doing the work now, you’ll be better prepared for winter emergencies when Mother Nature decides to give us the cold shoulder.