People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Accessibility – Available But Not Available For Use

accessibilityRecently I was walking by the library and noticed that a library staff person was on her way to locking up the gate for the ramp entrance and at the same time, a parent with a child in a stroller was about to enter through the gate. The staff person said that the library is closing soon and that they will have to use the front entrance (no ramp, just steps). At this point, the gate for the ramp entrance was not locked yet. As I watched the staff person lock up the gate for the ramp entrance, I noticed that the parent was struggling to push the stroller up the steps. Parent, child, and stroller eventually made it into the library building. By that time, the staff person finished locking the gate and was walking back on the ramp to go into the building.

What I can’t understand is why the staff person wouldn’t let the parent with the child in the stroller use the ramp. Chances are, based on my observations, if the staff person let them use the ramp, she still had more than enough time to lock the gate. While the library may be stating that accessibility is important (i.e. they have a ramp), it doesn’t make a difference if the ramp is available, but not available for use.

Another story: A few years ago, I was visiting a newly renovated library and noticed that they now have a button-activated door (you push the button and the door opens). I decided to use that door. I pushed the button. Nothing happened. The door did not open. Meanwhile, people were using the regular door. I pushed the button again. Nothing. Maybe it’s broken? I decided to pull the door handle. Nothing. The door was locked. I used the regular door.

Am I being too critical? What do you think? What are your thoughts on accessibility? Sound off in the comments.

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