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Functional Accessibility Reviews - Part 2: What Now?

I knew 3 things.

The first thing that I knew was that in order for these reviews of functional accessibility to be useful I had to answer 3 questions.

Question #1. How can reviews be submitted?

Question #2. How to rate/scale the services, accommodations, and facilities?

Question #3. How to share the reviews on the website?

The second thing that I knew was that I did not have a definitive answer to any of these 3 questions.

And the third thing that I knew was that I could not publish the website without answering these questions.

Question #1. How could reviews be submitted?

I thought this would have been the easiest question to answer. Initially I thought that #reviews would have to have been submitted to our email address because I didn’t know how to create a #form on the website, or even that you could do that. I figured we could start with that and go from there.

Question #2. How to rate/scale the services, accommodations, and facilities?

This question may well have been the toughest of the three questions. When I originally thought of which type of rating/scale to use I thought we could base it on the ADA’s legal standards for #accessibility because the #ADA has very specific and objective criteria for accessibility. What I discovered was that even though it sounded simple in theory and it should have been there can be lots of shades of grey in the application of those standards.

Initially I thought we could use a rating scale that would be divided into 3 categories based on the ADA’s legal standards for #accessibility.

1. The first category would be for places that, for whatever reasons, don’t even meet the legal standard for accessibility.

2. The second would be for places that meet the minimum legal standards and no more.

3. The third category would be for places that meet the legal standards and go above and beyond to be more accessible.

That didn’t feel quite right.

Since there wasn’t any real rush, I just let the idea simmer on the back burner. After a while it dawned on me that we didn’t really need the second category (places that meet the minimum legal standards and no more). I think that what I was calling category 2 is the expectation. We expect public businesses to meet the #standards for accessibility. For whatever reasons, some do and some do not.

So based on that concept I moved on to the following #rating scale that was divided into only 2 categories.

1. The first category would be for places that #fail to meet the legal standard for accessibility.


2. The second would be for and those that #exceed the legal standard for accessibility.

It still didn’t feel right.

So I let it simmer some more.

I kept searching for the right fit. And then finally a light bulb! The reality is that whether or not they meet legal standard some places are just more difficult to navigate than others. Based on that I thought that the ratings that would be most helpful were ones that were based on functional accessibility as opposed to the ADA’s legal standards for accessibility. By #functionalaccessibility I mean how easy it is to approach, enter, use, and leave a place either alone or with help.

Take grocery stores for example. Lots of stores, especially smaller or discount ones do not have electric shopping carts. You know, the kind you can ride in that have a basket in front. Those carts are not mandated by the #ADA so even though the store may meet the ADA’s standard they are not necessarily as functionally accessible as they could be.

Having the #electricshoppingcarts is a great first step. To really be functionally accessible there have to be a reasonable number of them, they have to be charged and you have to be able to get to them. Having a reasonable number of them is a management issue. Making sure they are charged is a staffing issue. Being able to get to them is a customer service issue and for me that is the thing that takes a store to the top of my list. In most cases you have to go in the store to get to them. There are some stores that will have someone bring the cart out to your car if you call them they so you don’t have to worry about trying to get into the store or taking someone with you to go in the store to get the cart. When you are finished you can leave it by your car and they take it back in the store.

Ooops. I think I went off on a tangent. Back to the question at hand.

I think the problem that I was running into with trying to rate/scale the services, accommodations, and facilities was that I was trying to devise an objective scale. I eventually realized that because each person is unique and their needs and abilities are different functional accessibility is subjective. I also realized that maybe there is no way to measure it objectively. Each person has to look at the reviews, use them as a starting point, and then maybe do a little extra research to see how functionally accessible a place is for them and their specific situation.

Question #3. How to share the reviews on the website?

I had absolutely no idea. If the website was more complex I could do one of those way cool interactive maps which is what I really want to do and had initially envisioned. However, since the website is pretty simple I thought about a simpler solution: transcribing reviews from email and putting them in an Excel chart that could be linked to one of the pages on the website.

I tried that and didn’t really like the feel of it but I was reluctantly willing to go with it until or unless I found something different or better that I could manage.

So that is where I was. Three things I knew. Three Questions I had. Zero real answers.

It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. (Eugene Ionesco)


Image by anncapictures from Pixabay




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