Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

Bonked Heads Don’t Make for Repeat Customers

Filed under: Accessibility 100 — by Glenda at 3:07 pm on Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another Accessibility 100 postLast weekend Darrell and I checked out a brand new recreation centre in our extended neighbourhood. Me being who I am, I was noticing the accessibility features: the automatic sliding front doors, the automatic door opener for the wheelchair accessible washroom, the flashing fire alarm,  the Braille on the elevator keypad and on the room signs, the wheelchair parking stalls near the front door and the like.

But the one thing that really stuck out for me was this set of stairs:

Open staircase without a barrier underneath

“If there’s an elevator, what is wrong with the stairs,” you ask.

Good question!

For people who are blind and use a white cane to navigate their surroundings, if they are heading towards under the stairs their cane will not hit an obstacle and they will keep walking, potentially banging their head on the overhang of the stairs. Similarly, children could be running around the staircase, take the circle too small and smack their head on the stairs overhead. Ouch!

The solution is to place a planter box, a sculpture on a base or something similar to act as a barrier:

Open staircase with a barrier

A barrier the full width of the staircase and the length to where adults can fully stand up will prevent bonked heads and broken noses.


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.

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2 Comments »

Comment by Oscar Gonzalez

June 22, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

I would have thought the same thing “what’s wrong with the stairs?” — As for the kids running around and smacking their head… good, they deserve it for being rowdy in a public place… and the parents should be smacked too. However, you make an excellent argument for the accessibility issue. I can see how someone using a cane would totally miss the stairs and get a big smack on their forehead or nose trying to just walk by. You’ve got an eye for this!

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