A new global project by BraunAbility is seeking to improve accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.
The new Drive for Inclusion initiative was announced May 1, to coincide with National Mobility Awareness Month.
In an introductory video, people who use wheelchairs explain how it feels to navigate a world that is still largely uneducated about mobility-related disabilities.
“Sometimes, it’s a little bit ridiculous, the steps and measures you have to go through just to get to a place,” said Case, one of the consumers in the video. “It can be very frustrating for someone that really just wants to contribute to society.”
Darius, another wheelchair user in the video, says he wonders daily “where I can be, where I can go, where I can fit, where I can sit.”
The video also says that 67 percent of able-bodied people “are ‘uncomfortable’ interacting with people obviously disabled.”
Drive for Inclusion believes the problem is a vicious cycle. To learn from people with disabilities, able-bodied people need to interact with them. But a chronic lack of accessibility can make it difficult for wheelchair users to engage with able-bodied peers. And that’s how educational opportunities are lost.
BraunAbility says Drive for Inclusion is a “global movement for accessibility and inclusion for those with a mobility challenge.” Drive for Inclusion is also an online survey community, so “we can unite your voices and take action for mobility inclusion.”
People with mobility disabilities and their caregivers are invited to sign up to receive monthly e-mails “with a new survey or poll on an inclusion-related topic.”
Drive for Inclusion’s advisory board members are comedian, public speaker and writer Zach Anner; racecar driver and Indy Racing League owner Sam Schmidt; and artist and advocate Reveca Torres, founder of BACKBONES.
Among Drive for Inclusion’s first projects is raising public awareness of the “access aisle,” those blue-striped areas next to disabled parking spaces. Access aisles are designed to provide space for wheelchair users to transfer into their cars or deploy and use vehicle ramps. But those spaces are routinely blocked by cars and other barriers that can trap wheelchair users inside or outside their vehicles.
May is National Mobility Awareness Month, a time when the accessible vehicle industry focuses on raising awareness of the accessibility issues faced every day by people who use mobility equipment.