Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

What is Accessibility?

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by Glenda at 1:29 pm on Monday, August 25, 2008

Accessibility 100

In the Accessibility 100 series, I have been sharing practical tips for increasing accessibility for people with disabilities. But, what is accessibility, really?

To me, accessibility is much more than building codes and checklists. It is also very much about the human factor and the intangible. I’ve developed an acrostic (still pretty much a draft) for ACCESSIBILITY:

AAccepting attitudes: Without acceptance of people with disabilities, accessibility is pointless.

CCreativity: Finding an accessible solution oftentimes requires thinking outside of the box.

CCitizenship: Accessibility enables an individual to be a participating member of a community.

EEncompassing: Accessibility encompasses all facets of life.

SSociety’s values:The level of accessibility, in terms of physical access and acceptance, reflects how a society values its citizens with disabilities.

SSuccess: When I can get where I need to go and do what I need to do, that is definitely a success!

IIncreases independence: There is so much I can do myself because of accessibility.

BBelonging: When I can physically get somewhere, I have a sense I belong there.

IInitiative: Accessibility doesn’t merely happen. It takes effort and commitment. It requires initiative.

LLiving life: The higher the degree of accessibility, the more able I am to live my life as fully as possible.

IInteraction: Accessible buildings, accessible services and accepting attitudes enable greater interaction among people, all people.

TTeamwork: For a place of business or an organization to be accessible, it requires a commitment from every level. Accessibility entails communication and teamwork.

YYou: Accessibility actually begins with you: you welcoming me, you keeping aisles clear, you installing a grab bar or automatic door opener, you approving the budget, you launching an accessibility improvement project, you holding the door open. You make accessibility possible. Thank you.

What does accessibility mean to you?


Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. This is a community project. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas for future Accessibility 100 posts.

Get the entire series by subscribing to this blog by filling in the form in the upper right corner or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

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The Problem with Power Chairs is They Require Power

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 11:08 pm on Saturday, August 23, 2008

After waiting several weeks to get my outside scooter in for servicing yet again, it was finally picked up on Friday morning. Being the second to last weekend of the summer, the timing sucks. I’m stuck inside, literally. But, considering Darrell and I are off to Las Vegas in mid-September for BlogWorld, I want to be sure the chair is in good working order, so I’m content with the inconvenience.

However, with my outside scooter went my only functioning battery charger. I tried the other one again this afternoon to no avail. I suspect a wire is broken or loose in the plug. No matter how I wiggled the cord, I couldn’t get a connection. With my old Amigo scooter, an elastic band from the brake handle to the charger plug did the trick. No such luck with this charger.

This means I have a chair, but no way to charge it! And the batteries are dying quickly; they require replacing but that is another story. I have been sitting at my desk all afternoon and evening to reduce battery usage – it is one way of getting out of doing housework!

I suspect my other chair will be returned Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. And, I figure I have one more trip left from my desk to the bedroom and ensuite.

Eventually the batteries will be totally dead. The question is: where do I want to be stuck? At my desk where I can get work done? Or in the bathroom for when nature calls?

I can physically push this scooter from my desk to the bathroom once or twice, but not umpteen times a day. Or, I can drag out my juvenile-sized manual wheelchair and try squeezing my middle-aged bootie into it. Or, I can spend Sunday, the day of rest, in bed and finish reading the August issue of O Magazine in August!

What do I do?

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A Checklist for Planning an Accessible Event

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by Glenda at 2:36 pm on Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Accessibility 100

Whether planning a meeting, workshop or multi-day conference, your goal, no doubt, is to assist all participants, including those with disabilities, to feel welcomed and able to fully participate in the event

This checklist is intended as a starting point in planning an accessible event, which likely requires more than ramps and wheelchair washrooms. The key is to consider every aspect of the event and what barriers a person with a disability – whether it be physical, mobility, hearing, sight, or cognitive – might face, and how you can eliminate or minimize those barriers to ensure all participants feel welcomed.

 Event Information

Welcoming people with disabilities begins with the event information by informing participants how to request a disability-related accommodation. The process for requesting an accommodation will depend upon the nature of the event. For an informal gathering, a quick e-mail or instant message ensuring the venue is accessible may suffice. For a more structured event, the information should include:

  • Who the request should be made to (person or office)
  • How a person can request an accommodation (phone, fax, TTY or e-mail)
  • By when the request should be made (date, usually at least one week in advance of the event)

Stanford University’s Diversity & Access Office provides the following sample to use in your event announcement and information:

Disability Accommodations and Services:
If you need a disability-related accommodation or wheelchair access information, please contact ____________ (name or office), at ph: _________, fax:________, or e-mail ____________. Requests should be made by _____________(date, at least one week in advance of the event).

Remember to inquire what, if any, accommodations your organizing team also require.

Also, promoting a scent-free practice for the event will increase the comfort level for those participants with chemical sensitivities.

 Physical Access

Ideally, all venues would be appropriately accessible for everyone to be able to use. However, reality dictates that is not necessarily the case. For smaller venues in less populated areas, creativity may be required to obtain an adequate level of accessibility.

The basic points to consider:

  • Can individuals using wheelchairs and other mobility devices get into the building?
  • Is wheelchair parking available near the wheelchair entrance?
  • Is there a wheelchair washroom?
  • Are hallways and doorways wide enough (a minimum of 36" or 91.5cm) for people using wheelchairs to navigate?
  • Are there visual fire alarms? If not, inquire about the facility’s evacuation plan or create your own.
  • If the event will be held on an upper floor, is there an elevator large enough for a wheelchair or scooter?

 Signage

Navigating an unfamiliar venue for the first time can be disorienting and even frustrating. Clear and legible, preferably high contrast, signage assists in pointing people in the right direction.

  • Ensure that the signs for the street address or building name are clearly visible from the street.
  • If the wheelchair accessible entrance is not the main entrance, place a sign at the main entrance pointing to the wheelchair entrance.
  • Post clear and easy-to-read signs showing locations of accessible washrooms, elevators, phones, etc.

 Room Setup

Equally important as the venue’s accessibility is the room setup. Some points to keep in mind:

  • Are all meeting rooms wheelchair accessible?
  • Is there room for wheelchairs, scooters and service dogs?
  • When a room does not have fixed seats, remove chairs so that  wheelchair locations are integrated with other seating areas. (i.e., chairs removed should be interspersed – front, middle, back, sides of room, etc).
  • If a presenter uses a wheelchair or other mobility device, ensure there is a ramp up to the stage and that the lectern is adjustable. Ideally, all of the stages and speaking areas, including lectern or podium are accessible to wheelchair and scooter users.
  • Ensure that there is a well-lit space provided for the sign language interpreter when interpreters will be present.
  • Check for noise levels (ventilation systems, noise from adjacent rooms etc.) which may be distracting.
  • Check to see that the meeting room has appropriate requirements (drapes, blinds, etc.) to provide reduction of light or glare from windows.
  • Covers should be used over electrical cables or cords that must cross over aisles or pathways. Cable covers should be no more than 1/2" thick in order for wheelchairs to traverse across them.

 Session Content

Once the participants are comfortably in the room, the session’s content also needs to be accessible. Here is where having accommodation requests from the participants beforehand assists in preparing any materials and in preparing the presenters.

  • Some people with visual impairments and other kinds of disabilities require the size of type print to be enlarged. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind provides the following guidelines for when creating large-print content:
    • Use Arial or other plain, sans serif fonts.
    • Font size should be at least 14 point.
    • Large-print fonts range from 16-20 point.
    • Material should be printed in black ink on white paper.
    • Print on non-glossy paper to avoid glare.
  • Encourage presenters to verbally describe contents of videos, or any written materials, including PowerPoint slides and whiteboard notes. (Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations will be covered in a future Accessibility 100 post.)
  • Encourage presenters to use captioned videos, where possible. Otherwise, provide an alternate means for participants who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
  • During video and slide presentations, offer to have someone sit beside an individual with visual impairment to describe the scene, people and action as it happens without interfering with already existing narrative.
  • If requested, provide sign language interpreters. See how can I hire an interpreter for more information.

 Refreshment and Dietary Considerations

When refreshments or meals are being provided, consider:

  • Where beverages are being served, bendable straws and lightweight cups should be made available within easy reach of individuals in wheelchairs or scooters.
  • Provide non-sugar (dietary) beverages, juices and water for people with dietary concerns such as diabetes.
  • Self-serve meals or buffets may present obstacles for some people who are visually impaired or people with a physical disability. Well-trained catering service staff can provide assistance to participants who require additional help. If catering staff is not present, ensure that someone is assigned to assist those who need help getting food.
  • Check to make sure that an alternative to pastries and cookies, such as fruits or vegetables, are available for people with dietary concerns.
  • Provide an opportunity for participants to indicate their dietary needs on any registration form or invitation to an event where meals are being served.

 Transportation

If transportation is being provided for an off-venue trip, is it wheelchair accessible? Or, have alternative arrangements been made?

 Staff Training

An enlightened and helpful staff can be invaluable during the event. Ensure the staff has received disability awareness and creatively solve unusual problems. They may be asked for the nearest wheelchair repair shop or the nearest veterinary (for service animals). They may need to know the location of the TTY (teletypewriter for those with hearing or speech impairments). Or, they may be asked for a water bowl for an assistance dog or where dogs can be taken to do their business.

 Additional Resources


Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. This is a community project. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas for future Accessibility 100 posts.

Get the entire series by subscribing to this blog by filling in the form in the upper right corner or by subscribing to the RSS feed.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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Left Thumb Blogger Stumbles Across Next Upgrade

Filed under: General — by Glenda at 3:27 pm on Saturday, August 16, 2008

USB thumb drivee

Several weeks ago I mentioned I, the Left Thumb Blogger, was holding out for the Thumb 2.0 rather than succumbing to the iPhone 3G Mania. Yesterday I stumbled across the next upgrade for the Left Thumb Blogger – a USB thumb drive!

But, seriously, isn’t this the ideal promotional item for the Left Thumb Blogger to hand out? I could upload content to the thumb drive and then use it instead of a business card. How memorable would that be!

My next step is to contact the manufacturer or wholesaler to inquire about a discounted price. The challenge there is that the order page is in Japanese – like that is going to deter me!


This post is dedicated to Amy Stewart who introduced me to Windows Live Writer, which is making writing posts fun again. Thanks Amy!

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The Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Filed under: Living with a disability — by Glenda at 9:33 am on Friday, August 15, 2008

My apologies for not posting frequently this summer. With my kind of cerebral palsy, I don’t do well in the heat. Hence, hot days are not productive, which is frustrating because I have blog posts and other things to do piled up to my wazoo – how high that is I’m not exactly sure. Some things are better not knowing!

Stay tuned for the next Accessibility 100 post – A Checklist for Planning an Accessible Event. I am also working on another two-part article for Uptake. This one will be tips for parents and fellow travelers when traveling with children with autism.

And, my kitty Faith is pestering me for her own blog. She figures as CFO, Chief Feline Officer, of this operation, she has much to meow about. No doubt she would make more money online than I do!

For now, here are a few posts from my Disaboom blog for your perusal:

Stay cool!

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