To help people better understand what Universal Design is; here are the Seven Principles of Universal Design:
- Equitable Use:
The design is useful and marketable to any group of users.
- Flexibility in Use:
The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
- Simple and Intuitive Use:
Use of the design is easy to understand.
- Perceptible Information:
The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user.
- Tolerance for Error:
The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintentional actions.
- Low Physical Effort:
The design can be used efficiently and comfortably.
- Size and Space for Approach and Use:
Appropriate size and space is provided for approach and use.
Universal Access and Design in our Community
Examples of Inaccessibility and Accessibility
On Maple Ridge’s main street, 224th, there are several crosswalks that have no curb cuts. There may be a curb cut going east or west, or north and south, but not both ways. This curb is very high up and makes it hard for people to cross the street. Since there is no curb cut people have to use the other cub cut which is sometimes in direct line of oncoming traffic. Once off the curb the pedestrian has to go slightly out onto the street and into traffic so that they can be seen by drivers.
When there is a curb cut people are able to make their intentions of crossing the street more visible, and as it is already difficult getting drivers attention it is a safety matter having curb cuts.
(See Image 1)
This shows the height of the curb. It is impossible for those in wheelchairs or scooters to use this curb even though it is directly in front of a sidewalk.
(See Image 2)
This crosswalk is at our bus loop downtown. The crosswalk does not line up with the curb cut. The only curb cut that people can use on the South side is in direct line with oncoming traffic. Traffic that is turning often blocks the curb and makes it even more difficult for people to access the curb cut.
(See Image 3)
This is an example of a crosswalk near an elementary school. This crosswalk does not lead to a curb cut so children and parents with bicycles, scooters, and strollers are forced to walk on the crowded sidewalk during drop off and pick up time. This is a narrow street and very busy and not having a curb cut here creates a dangerous situation.
(See Image 4)
Another impediment in several local stores are steps into their stores. While this store has three steps, some store only have one, but one is enough to stop anyone in a wheelchair or scooter from being a customer. For many people steps are difficult to negotiate. Where steps cannot be taken out local businesses should create a ramp for the customers who would like to shop there.
(See Image 5)
While this is an example of a nicely made ramp for those who experience difficulties with stairs the ramp needs railings to protect those with visual impairments from the bushes. Without a railing to help them understand where the concrete begins and ends there are dangers of twisting ankles, falling into bushes, and falling in an area that does not have a lot of foot traffic.
(See Image 6)
Sidewalks are a very big concern for people who use scooter and wheelchairs. Some people have pain in their joints and there are several streets in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows that are avoided do to the roughness of the streets. While the smaller bricks may look more pleasing they cause some people’s backs to go into spasms from the constant rattling of their bones. The main problem with the sidewalks in the size of the cracks. The deeper the crack the more of a jolt to one’s joints. This is an issue that impedes people’s ability to travel easily throughout our communities.
This sidewalk was recently redone. The combination of bricks and raised aggregates make it difficult to ride over. Many people have talked to me about the fact that they avoid this street altogether, even though it is a main street.
The raised aggregate are placed on either side of the squares so if a person finds the aggregates easier to ride on they are not able to do so as half of their mobility aid will always be on the squares with deep cracks.
(See Image 7)
This is the material used in front of the library, and for the back entrance of the Municipal Hall. This surface not only causes difficulties because of the constant cracks, but also because of the unevenness of the surface.
(See Image 8)
Again, this is an example of the squares that are used to decorate the downtown area yet make it extremely difficult to travel downtown.
(See Image 9)
This is a close-up of the cracks. Notice how deep they are. There are also ridges on either side of the crack which creates an extra jolt to the body.
(See Image 10)
This is an example of a sidewalk that is easier to use. While this sidewalk still has the cracks they are much smoother and are quite far apart from one another. This makes for a smooth and less painful ride.
(See Image 11)
This is the close up for the crack from the above sidewalk. Notice how shallow this crack is compared to the previous close-ups in the inaccessible section.
(See Image 12)
This parking spot at the Maple Ridge Legion is a good example of a well done handicap parking spot. The parking space is wider than the average spaces. There is a flat surface next to the parking spot which is clearly marked with bright yellow lines. This area would work well for people transferring from the car to their wheelchair. The curb cut is within the yellow lined area. This curb cut will not be blocked by the parked car or any other cars. Some parking spots have curb cuts directly in front of where the car parks; this disallows any other person to access the curb cut while the car is parked there. Such is not the case with this parking spot.
(See Image 13)
The Maple Ridge Leisure Centre listened to the comments and complaints of their customers and added these two parking spots in front of the building for over height handicap parking. Over height vehicles do not fit in the underground parking lot and have been known to be ticketed in parked in the Zellers parking lot. The Maple Ridge Leisure Centre created these two parking spots which are easy to access and are clearly marked.
(See Image 14)
This curb cut is very accessible in that it is gradual and not hard for people with mobility aids, strollers, or grocery carts to use. The yellow pain and tactile lines indicate that there is a curb cut for those with visual impairments. By combining these elements the curb cut is accessible for those with visual impairments and those who rely on mobility aids (among other wheeled uses).
(See Image 15)
The Senior’s Activity Centre has an excellent accessible front door. The button for this door is several feet from the door which makes is easier for those in wheelchairs and scooters who are not able to back away from a swinging door as quickly as the doors sometimes move. The button does not blend in with the building and is easy to notice. The one button opens both doors which allows for easier access. The automatic door is clearly marked with a yellow sticker on the doors. This is a great example of a completely accessible entrance.
(See Image 16)
The Maple Ridge Library has a computer available specifically for those with visual impairments. This computer allows them to access the internet with the use of larger fonts.
(See Image 17)
The Maple Ridge Library also has a magnifier. This machine will magnify the books for any reader who has difficulty with small print.
(See Image 18)
For the readers, like Dee, who have difficulty with the small print of books, the Fraser Valley Library offers a large selection of Large Print books.
(See Image 19)