Twenty-five years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. At that time, guidelines were provided as to what equipment was necessary in order to make playgrounds (among other public spaces) accessible. Today, all new construction is required to comply with the ADA rules, and accessibility is ubiquitous.
But what if we take an extra step and consider that mere accessibility isn’t enough? What if we work instead toward inclusivity?
When a space is accessible it means everyone is able to use it, but when a space is inclusive it encourages engagement beyond simple use; it meets the needs of all people with a variety of abilities and sensibilities. Inclusive spaces – inclusive atmospheres – invite everyone in and make them feel comfortable, not merely accommodated. This is the difference between welcoming and radically welcoming.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a long overdue, landmark ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, declaring any legislation which outlaws same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. My family, my church community, my social media newsfeed, and my heart erupted with shouts of joy and elation. This is a giant leap forward in the quest to create a nation which values human equity universally*. This move toward inclusivity is a victory for Love.
Whether we are designing playgrounds, communities, or society as a whole, what if every time we endeavor to effect change we always considering inclusivity as a primary goal? When we venture to shape our world, our future, we have the ability and the responsibility to stand on the side of Love by adopting a broader perspective and focusing our efforts on the answer to the question “what would benefit all of us?”
Inclusive. Radically welcoming, by design. It’s about time.
*A giant leap forward, but we’re not there, yet. The next great stride will be declaring sexual orientation a protected class. Then of course there’s the matter of women’s reproductive rights, equal pay, eliminating racial bias in the justice system, (and those are just some of the first world concerns)… We’ve still got work to do.