I know I know, I use this blog to most often complain about design, people, situations that make it harder for anyone with a disability. In all fairness, I really do need to give shout outs to success stories when they are due. They are few and far between, I’m afraid, so I don’t have to worry about losing my sarcastic edge. Tonight, I give you two totally different examples of doing it right.
First off, I have to give a shout out to the Stockyards Shoeless Joe’s pub that opened a few months ago. While I was going to give them a hassle on their front door auto button not
working and on the complete lack of accessible ramps in the parking nearest their mall, I can’t blame them on the parking lot. The store space beside them was designed exclusively for Target and we all know how well that retailing adventure went. As such the only spaces with cut outs for wheeled access are at the now closed doors to the old Target. I hope the property manager will do something about that but…I’m not holding my breath. The pub itself though…wow did they go above and beyond. The picture I’ve included is a shot of one of their accessible/family bathrooms. Yes, ONE of. They actually have TWO of them, which was enough to be impressive before I saw how much space they set aside for the two rooms. My shakey cam pic isn’t the best detail and it really doesn’t give you the scale of how big the room is. (sidenote: it is NOT creepy when I’m taking pics in bathrooms…I hope).
I was actually balancing my camera on the change table along the wall beside the Dyson hand dryer, so the room is really that much deeper. And to add to my shock…no angled grab bars!! (those were recently removed as being acceptable for the building code). They did it right! And it wasn’t even being used by someone who shouldn’t! Did I mention there are two of them?
On a whole different scale I give you…an app! Yes an app. Stop rolling your eyes, those who know me so well. I’m the techie who always explains I don’t use apps on my smartphone…but even I can make exceptions to a rule. I recently began using Cascarun, a tiny and simple app on my phone for my hill and distance training rolls in my chair. As I was experimenting with the app to see how well it would handle my movements on its GPS tracking, I was shocked to discover that not only did it include Wheelchair as a mode of exercise, but Hand Cycling as well. Now let’s be honest, from what I can tell it’s really only a designation for how you worked out, no settings change based on what you choose, no changes to what or how it tracks. That isn’t really the point, however as including the option at all shows a forward thinking and inclusive attitude that we don’t see all that often in tech design. It’s a small thing yes. Does it matter in to know that a tech company sees the disabled at all as a potential client? Definitely.
This post actually turned out to be quite timely as a notice came across my newsfeeds that Apple announced some changes to their Apple Watch fitness tracker that will now enable tracking for people in wheelchairs. I know, I know. It’s Apple…why am I paying attention, I’m never going to buy an Apple Watch. Despite my Apple issues, I do recognize how they can push tech trends and how other companies can occasionally do things better. When Microsoft brought out the Band fitness tracker/smartwatch a few years back, I stopped in at a Microsoft Store to ask about its capabilities for wheeled use. Full credit to the staff, they admitted they didn’t know the answer, but doubted it. They did pass on the request (or at least told me they would and I choose to believe they did). If Apple is doing it, I expect Android Wear, Fitbits, Microsoft Bands and every other variation will eventually get it as well. Perhaps soon Casca run will be able to track my push strokes and how well I keep the rhythm up.
A small thing yes…but just like the bathroom…when done right, we should take notice and applaud them the #AccessWins as much as we boo and hiss at the #AccessFails.