Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Curb Cuts: One of the great social victories in modern American history

The National Museum of American History (Smithsonian) has this article titled, “Smashing barriers to access: Disability activism and curb cuts”. Curb cuts are everywhere now and taken for granted. After World War II though they were still very rare in the country. Curbs were typically 6″ high and very difficult for those in wheelchairs and other mobility issues to go up and down.

The high number of handicapped veterans returning from WWII demanded change. Here is an excerpt from Julie Peterson's article:

Today, this seems like an odd thing to rejoice about, since curb cuts are now so commonplace in cities throughout the U.S. However, sidewalks and public spaces in the built environment were not always so accessible to people with disabilities. The development of curb cuts and the concept of accessible public spaces has been long in the making and has only become possible through the hard work of activists like Mr. Fisher [Jack Fisher of Kalamazoo, Michigan], the passage of federal legislation on accessibility requirements, and developments in design.
     Wheelchair-using individuals have navigated obstacles in the built environment since the first wheelchairs. In the 1940s and 1950s, a large contingency of veterans returned from World War II with mobility-related injuries. Many of these individuals pushed for changes to the built environment to make college campuses and public spaces more accessible to wheelchair users and other disabled people.
This image is from the article by Julie Peterson in the Smithsonian.

No comments: