Inclusive Design: The Link Between Accessibility and Physical Therapy
According to a report by the National Service Inclusion Project, in 1994, the United States alone was home to almost 49 million people diagnosed with a disability. Of these people, almost half of them were faced with a severe disability of some sort, which can make it difficult – if not impossible for these individuals to participate in society like an able-bodied individual. Fortunately for people that fall into any category of disability, advancements, and inventions in the last two decades have made it possible for a greater level of inclusion for this constantly rising number of people. Inclusive design not only focuses on developing products and services that aim to serve all facets of the world’s diverse populations but to do so with respect.
For people living with disabilities – many of whom are employed and/or have ample disposable incomes – it can be a challenge to find ways to enjoy life in the same ways that able-bodied individuals do, but it is possible. From fashion and function to physical therapy, inclusive design is changing people’s lives for the better every day.
Inclusive Design in Daily Life
Making daily life accessible for people with disabilities is about more than giving them ways to get around their homes and participate in daily life, it’s also about allowing them to enjoy things. The most important to remember is that not all disabilities are permanent; sometimes people simply will need to make changes for a short time before they are able to go back to the way things were. Though challenging to plan for, there are plenty of ways that businesses can serve people with disabilities of any kind or duration. In some cases, this means adapting a service, product or technology to be inclusive from the get go.
For example, with the amount of time that people spend using the Internet, many businesses work hard to ensure that their webpages are designed to be inclusive so that they are accessible to all visitors. The BetterPT website is an example of this, showing people with disabilities that not only are they being considered, but they’re also being prioritized. It’s about more than making things simple to navigate; websites like this one that focus on inclusive design also have features like larger text, fewer similar-color ranges, and a design that features updated tonal contrast, Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) labels, and the ability to click on all clickable areas via the use of a keyboard – not just via a screen or a mouse.
Websites aren’t the only places where inclusive design consideration is important, “real life” inclusivity is necessary, too. Automatic doors, access ramps, devices that can be used with little explanation and effort, public transportation or personal transportation devices… all of these are adaptable to meet the needs of the people that use them. Even special clothing is made to be used by those with disabilities, too.
Inclusivity in Fashion
People need to wear clothing – this isn’t a new concept, but for people with even small disabilities, finding and wearing clothes that they can easily get into and out of can be hard. Luckily for them, there are new options and opportunities for fashionable clothing that isn’t going to be frustrating to wear or use. Some examples of this can be found by reading this article, but put simply, clothing designed to be inclusive is often just as fashionable as clothing that is not. Not only will people that purchase and wear these kinds of items feel comfortable and confident about the way they look, but won’t have to worry about needing assistance to get dressed – or undressed, even if they live alone. Another perk? In a lot of cases, these types of objects are often designed by people with disabilities, making sure that before they’re marketed to the public, they’re compliant to differently-abled populations.
Physical Therapy’s Benefits for Those Living With a Disability
Physical therapy is about more than regaining strength after an injury or an accident. While this is what most people associate with the practice, it’s important to understand that when it comes to inclusivity, PT is a valuable tool. Those living with disabilities – especially ones that are chronic and not short term – will need to find ways to make daily life easier… and a licensed physical therapist can help do just that.
Physical therapy is about more than what it offers patients on the surface. These sessions – and working closely with PT professionals – can inspire confidence, teach people new ways to approach daily situations, and give them options when it comes to everyday behaviors. For many, living with a disability is not the difficult part; the difficulty comes from finding ways to get and remain independent, as well as to function without standing out from the crowd. Inclusive physical therapy exercises may include a focus on things like:
- Building strength
The adaptability and flexibility of physical therapy programs make them an ideal choice for teaching people the skills that they will need to succeed in everyday life. Physical therapy on its own won’t be enough to make it possible for people to lead full and healthy lives after a disability diagnosis, but it’s more than enough to make great headway on what is important. Not only can the exercises themselves be of assistance, there are tools and items that can be implemented as well, like assistive devices and equipment, heat and cold, the use of a swimming pool and integration techniques that allow people with disabilities to incorporate things like a wheelchair or the way that their home is set up into the sessions.
To learn more and get in touch with a physical therapy professional that can help you or a loved one on your journey to increased independence through inclusive design, look no further than the BetterPT Clinic Locator page or even download the BetterPT Physical Therapy appointment app. Integrating physical therapy with other forms of care has worked for thousands of others in the past – it can help you, too!