A population of seven billion has implications beyond sheer numbers. Recent statistics show that over a billion people worldwide have a disability, and as the population ages, the number of people with some form of impairment is projected to increase. However, few places, from websites to homes, are designed to be accessible to people of varying mobility, sight, and hearing. Furthermore, many places still do not allow service animals, excluding many people from public areas. Even people who currently have no disabilities often struggle when they encounter websites with tiny font and poor contrast or steep steps into a home (as anyone who has ever pushed a stroller or moved a couch can testify). Today there is increased awareness of the need for universal design. The following links offer some information on the current demographic situation, accessibility initiatives, and guidelines for greater accessibility.
New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources are already listed in the ipl2 collection.
NEW! World Health Organization: Disabilities and Rehabilitation
The World Health Organization has found that worldwide, approximately one billion people have some form of disability, and of these, “110-190 million encounter significant difficulties in their daily lives.” This indicates a great need for accessible housing, public spaces, and communications and other services, which will only grow as the population increases. This site includes WHO’s full report, as well as accounts from people with disabilities about the obstacles they face and guidelines for making community programs accessible to people with disabilities.
NEW! ‘Major’ rise in world’s elderly population: DESA report
According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, by mid-century, 22% of the world’s population will be age 60 or older, outnumbering children as a demographic group. Peoples’ ability levels often decline as they age, so as the proportion of elderly people in the population rises, so will the need for accessibility in all areas of life.
Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) (find it on ipl2 – Computers and Internet – Internet)
WAI provides guidelines, demonstrations, and more for people who want to make their websites accessible to as many users as possible, including people with visual, auditory, physical, age-related, and various other impairments. What makes websites visually easiest to read? How do you make a website accessible to screenreaders? What constitutes appropriate captions and transcripts for audio/visual content? WAI addresses these questions and much more.
NEW! Concrete Change
Concrete Change is dedicated to promoting policy change so that in the future, all new homes will have at least a few key features that make them “visitable” by people of all mobility levels. They focus on features such as wider hallways and doorways, which are simple and achievable in all new homes without adding prohibitive costs, and which are useful even for able-bodied residents. Concrete Change, with backing from the Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia, has contributed to several successful visitability laws, and the Atlanta affiliate of Habitat for Humanity has built thousands of visitable homes thanks to Concrete Change’s efforts.
NEW! Visibility Canada
A project of the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies, Visibility Canada studied the costs and benefits of building homes with basic accessibility features. The site provides information about features which promote accessibility and who benefits: “Seniors, people with disabilities, parents, children, pregnant women, people in the moving industry, people with temporary physical injuries, friends, family and neighbours who have limited mobility and anyone who would like to invite a friend or family member over to their home.” The site also links to visitability initiatives in Australia, Japan, Sweden, and other locations around the world.
Lighthouse International (find it on ipl2)
Lighthouse International has worked since 1905 to provide information and assistance to people with visual impairments, who today number approximately 180 million worldwide. The website includes information on assistive technology, mobility training, social services, occupational therapy, how to relearn everyday activities (such as cooking) after vision loss, and much more. It also includes tips for anyone on how design websites and print media to be most accessible to people with visual impairments.
A Brief Information Resource on Assistance Animals for the Disabled (find it on ipl2)
This document describes the types of service animals and the types of disabilities which animals can be trained to assist, includes a lengthy bibliography of articles on service animals and links to service animal organizations and other informational sites, and discusses recent changes in United States law on which animals are recognized as service animals. The document also links to international service animal organizations.
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