Accessibility, or rather the lack thereof, has become an increasing issue for wheelchair users around the globe. Another prevalent issue, it seems, is that there are a lot of “accessibility” features that turn out to be accessibility bloopers and leave wheelchair users just as stranded as they would have been without them.
My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn’t accessible.
– Stella Young
Thanks to the ADA, millions of curb cuts, accessible ramps, parking lots, bathrooms and more have been put in place to make life easier for people with disabilities. Townships and even private business owners invest thousands of dollars to provide wheelchair users with easy access, and hopefully, these efforts are not taken for granted by wheelchair users and their families.
Of course, there are still many places that unfortunately did not take the time to do this, and this often causes a lot of frustration for individuals who rely on accessibility features to get around independently. What’s even sadder than not trying, however, is pretending to try – and then ending up with the kind of epic failures featured below. These accessibility bloopers include wheelchair ramps that lead to nowhere, parking spots that don’t quite fill the need and “accessible” ramps that just aren’t accessible.
1. World’s Most Dangerous Ramp: This may look like a lot of fun, but if you’re sitting in a wheelchair, it’s not. I mean, who even thought of doing this?? Then again, maybe it’s meant for sledding… now that might be fun. Or skateboarding.
2. Thoughtless Elevator Shutdown: Because no one thought that there are some people who simply can’t take the stairs. Yes, taking the stairs is a healthy thing to do – for some people. Even if there were no wheelchair users in the building, I’d be horrified by this. Taking the elevator isn’t a choice for many – it’s a necessity (think pregnant women, elderly people, tired people…). And if it is a choice, it’s our choice to make, not yours.
3. World’s Most Disappointing Ramps: These “clever” ramps come to a disappointing end when they meet a rail – though the rail pictured on the left does seem wide enough to allow wheelchair users to crawl through if they’re really desperate, so maybe that’s what the builder had in mind? Somehow, I hope not.
Similarly, there’s this one, which could conceivably be useful if you could go up the ramp while the door is closed and then somehow turn the wheelchair in place, drive it past the door to the right side, and only then open the door, pivot the chair around again and squeeze into the doorway. Nope, no good.
4. World’s Most Useless Curb Cut: Um… Is this a parking spot for wheelchairs? It must be; what else could it possibly be?? Also, why is there a crosswalk leading up to it?
5. World’s Worst Handicapped Parking: This parking spot is handicapped. Not for the handicapped; it is handicapped. This parking spot is definitely not for actual handicapped people. At least, not for their cars… though perhaps it could work for their bikes. (How many handicapped people use bikes, even? Also, do they make handicapped placards for bikes?)
6. Ready for a dive, anyone? This epic ramp was built with no one in mind, besides sand divers, perhaps. Or athletic wheelchair users who are strapped tightly and ready for a big wheelie.
7. The Unavailable Wheelchair Ramp: How is this supposed to work, exactly? Let’s assume for a second that not every wheelchair user goes around 24/7 with a companion… I guess the owner of this shop doesn’t think of people with disabilities as independent individuals who sometimes go places – believe it or not- on their own.
8. World’s Scariest Ramp Ever: The more of these I see, the more I wonder who on earth designed these things. I mean, never mind the designer – what about the actual guy(s) who poured the cement for this “ramp”? What were they thinking? Clearly, they weren’t.
9. The Wheelchair Access That Wasn’t: Nobody is sure what that wheelchair access sign is doing there. I mean, even if the wheelchair user had a companion to somehow hoist the wheelchair up the steps, how would the wheelchair get through that door? I guess if there’s one wheelchair user, one strong person to lift the chair and another person to hold the door, you could maybe call this a wheelchair access. Maybe.
10. World’s Most Ironic Sign: This ironic sign asks others to keep the ramp clear – but makes an exception for itself and sits directly in the way, rendering the ramp completely useless.
11. Wait… What? These ramps are very different in structure and design, but all share the same ridiculous mistake: there are steps on the ramp. Once is a blooper, twice is surprising… But three times? How could so many designers be so bad at what they do? And this is only a sampling of this type of ramp – there are unfortunately many more like this.
To end off on a happy note, here’s what one clever designer came up with to avoid the issue that’s created when there are a lot of steps in a small amount of space – such as the one in the first blooper featured above. This wheelchair ramp is both trendy and useful, making it a real winner!
Here’s what we want to hear from you:
What accessibility issues have you experienced? Have you seen original accessibility solutions that you appreciated?