It’s easy to see how much more accessible certain parts of public life are than they used to be. Businesses, housing, and government buildings are required to have doors of certain widths and have a certain amount of access for wheelchairs and other mobility aids. Many jobs are hiring employees full-time remote, meaning that people can work in an environment suited to their needs. But are we stagnating on making improvements? Are the improvements that have been made mainly due to regulations that could be removed, causing a backslide?
With the Trump Administration’s department of education rescinding 72 policy documents related to disability rights, many people are wondering how other areas will be affected. This administration has stated their desire to have less regulation for businesses, so will accessibility soon be de-prioritized?
Business Safety Regulations
Fortunately, many accessibility issues are tied directly to safety. Businesses must consider the likelihood of injury for people of varying mobility in order to prevent liability for injury on their premises. Of course, that is tied to the ability to hold businesses liable for things like negligence, endangerment, and fraud and some businesses have liability agreements that require people to waive these rights.
The American Disability Act outlines standards and guidelines for businesses, construction zones, housing administrators, individuals, and more. These include specific tips for keeping work zones safe, with people of various abilities in mind. Some argue that these should not be mandated by federal government, that the desire to avoid lawsuits and bad publicity will keep businesses in line, but that isn’t always the case in small communities where one business controls a lot of a market and/or has the funds to spin media coverage or settle cases with non-disclosure agreements.
Technology and Healthcare
Technology has made certain types of work more accessible to people with specific mobility needs, but the kinks are still being worked out on how it can improve access to healthcare. There are still many regulations about what telemedicine is limited to, what doctors can prescribe and diagnose without seeing a patient in person. But there is a lot of research going into how telemedicine can be improved to help people who don’t have easy access to doctor’s offices or can afford to pay for house calls. Some people even say that telemedicine is the primary care visit of the future, which could be invaluable to people who are housebound or live in rural communities.
Advancements are still being made in accessibility, but it’s important to pay attention to what progress is being made and what is being hindered due to corporate interests. Do you think improvements are still moving forward, or is society stagnant right now?
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