My awareness of universal design and visitability went up exponentially when I broke my foot this November.


Wheelchair ramp signI had been attending an eight week program at a local university. With my crutches, I could get into the building using a ramp. But, to use a ramp, I had to travel farther on my crutches. It was physically harder than going up the stairs on my butt.


So, there I was, bouncing up the stairs, butt-first. Several good-willed people stopped to inform me about the ramp, some 50 feet away, where I would then need to walk 25-30 feet up the ramp to the door.


What It Takes to Make Your Home or Building Visitable


The mobility needs of people who use canes or crutches are not same as those who use a wheelchair. The ramps were hard for me to use. However, some things work for everyone, like elevators and lifts.


Visitability only works if the adaptations of the building are maintained and not disrupted. The second week that I went to the university on crutches, I was dropped off at the bottom of a ramp. When I got to the top of the ramp, the door was locked. FAIL! Fortunately, there was someone inside who let me in.


There was another ramp on the other side of the same building that was not only locked, but blocked with a big grill of some kind. EPIC FAIL! It seems to me that the staff in this building think that the ramps are there to enable the food service to bring food in!



Open the Door, Let Me In

My use of crutches and a cane are short-term (for now.) Here is a list of what is helpful for someone using a cane or crutches:


*Parking near the building.

*Direct access to the building, without long walkways.

*Limited number or stairs, no stairs, a lift, or elevator.

*Light-weight doors or doors with air-pressure assistance.


Many adults use a cane for years, in order to avoid switching into a wheelchair. For them, walking takes more energy than people who have no mobility problems. Universal design is not set up to meet their needs, so please help by opening doors and being patient.


Many people use crutches and canes for months at a time due to injury sometime in their lives. If this has ever happened to you, may you remember it when you see someone who depends on a cane every day.