Accessibility and Convenience are not the Same Thing

Published: Aug 21, 2018

A quick note to all my (amazing) able‐bodied allies: be careful when talking about the “curb cut effect” in relation to how accessibility affects people. When you mention “prams, buggies, and bicycles” in the same breath as people with mobility aids, you’re conflating “accessibility” with “convenience”.

When disabled people talk about accessibility, we’re talking about “equal access” not “ease of access”. When something isn’t accessible, we’re not mildly inconvenienced; we’re completely excluded. When the lift isn’t working, we can’t get to work. When public transportation isn’t accessible, we’re not troubled; we’re trapped.

This is why our most vocal supporters call themselves “disability rights activists” not “accessibility advocates”. It’s not about the benefits of accessibility; it’s about the direct, long‐term harm a lack of accessibility causes.

Most folks don’t realize that the ADA is not a building code, but is in fact a civil rights law. So, the next time you’re explaining how important accessibility is to your able‐bodied friends, don’t just focus on how accessibility makes the most common spaces better for everyone; focus on how a lack of accessibility excludes disabled people from even the most common spaces.