An accessible theme park open in Texas, and some thoughts about accessibility.
Morgan’s Worderland, located in San Antonio Texas is now open. This isn’t the biggest park, or has the craziest ride, or whatever else makes a new amusement park news worthy. What makes this park special is something else.
Morgan’s Wonderland was built to be accessible.
Usually accessibility is either minimally included in the design process, and by minimal I mean the minimum they can get away with under the Americans with Disability Act. Or it’s put in at the end of construction.
Morgans Wonderland did something different. They started designing their park from the beginning around People with Disabilities. They put together a team of doctors, special-ed teachers, caregivers, therapists, parents of special needs children, and others to help them identify obstacles and barriers that would keep them from enjoying the park.
I’m going to do something a little different today, usually we cover 3 news topics, but today I am going to skip the next two and I am going to give a few comments about accessibility.
Unfortunately our society is very hostile towards People with Disabilities.
I am disabled. I am legally blind. I can see, just not well. I need a vision assist cane, or assistance when I’m out in public. I’ve learned that our society isn’t built for people with limited vision, or really most disabilities. It’s horrible that we are telling a group of people they don’t matter, especially when there is nothing we can do about being disabled. This isn’t a choice for us. And I’m not talking about a small group either, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 people have a disability. That’s roughly 32 million people in the U.S. alone.
What’s also frustrating, is in most cases, accessible design benefits everybody. Ramps are usually preferred to stairs. Automatic doors are amazing, not just for the disabled, but anyone trying to carry things out of a store, or parents with a stroller.
There are technologies that were invented to help the disabled which became part of our daily lives. Text messaging which we use on our phones were originally developed to help the deaf communicate.
The bigger problem isn’t the lack of accessible design, but the culture that allows for hostilities to continue towards the disabled. That the idea of starting a project by identifying obstacles and barriers to the disabled first, then designing around them is considered unique shows that society, by and large doesn’t usually think of the disabled. While this is wonderful that these people started designing their park with accessibility in mind. It’s also sad that this is unique. This is just how it should be. Companies, municipalities, governments should always take the approach of accessible first.
Accessibility benefits everybody. And it’s the right thing to do.