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Feature blog series: Creating safer clinic spaces and experiences for trans and gender variant clients - PART 3
Sep 9, 2015 by Jenn De Roo, MA, RCC, Counsellor, 1-800-SEX-SENSE coordinator at Options for Sexual Health
PART 3 – Creating accessible spaces
Accessibility for trans people isn’t just about gender.
Trans people may also have accessibility needs that are unrelated to their gender, but that still create barriers to access. For instance, trans people may have chemical sensitivities, use a wheelchair, have bigger bodies or require non-English language services.
Having a fully accessible clinic means the space is available for all people, including people from different cultures and those with disabilities.
These guidelines are a starting point for creating accessible spaces:
- In places with stairs, ensure that there are either ramps or clearly marked working elevators.
- Ensure all outside stairs and ramps are kept clear of snow and ice in winter.
- On exterior steps, forward edges should be highly colour-contrasted for easy visibility.
- On both sides of ramps or exterior stairs, have continuous handrails in a bright contrasting colour, with horizontal or vertical rails to prevent people from slipping through.
- Ensure doorways, hallways, waiting rooms, washrooms, and washroom stalls are big enough for wheelchairs to enter and turn around in, and that there are easily accessible spaces to park chairs and scooters.
- Accessible pedestrian routes should be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility devices and not obscured by objects such as plants or poles.
- Waiting rooms and doctor’s offices should feature seating without arms to accommodate larger bodies.
- Mats should be level with the floor, and doorway thresholds beveled, so they do not create a tripping hazard.
- Where floors are carpeted, ensure the carpet is of firm, dense construction and is easy for a wheelchair user to roll over.
- Commit to having a clearly-marked fragrance free space. Make sure this includes scent-free hand soaps in washrooms.
- Display universal hearing disability symbols where equipment is available, e.g. Telecommunications devices for the deaf.
- Have signs in multiple languages that include any relevant information on translator services.
- Ensure signs are mounted at a convenient height for both wheelchair users and people with vision disabilities, including Braille.
If multiple forms of accessibility haven’t been previously considered in configuring spaces, this may seem like a lot of detail to consider. However, these changes make it possible for clients who were previously unable to access to now enter clinical spaces and access services.
If your clinic space does not meet these accessibility points, state these limitations on your website, and ensure that all frontline workers are equipped with information on accessibility in case of questions.
The Radical Access Mapping Project (RAMP): A Vancouver-based disability justice organization that creates accessibility audits for spaces, works directly with venues to shift structural issues around accessibility and address culturally-embedded ableism, and offers captioned videos for Deaf/ hard of hearing, and others with audio barriers. R AMP’s website includes templates to audit spaces for accessibility.
Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure: Offers guidelines on physically accessible spaces for people with disabilities (at present time, these guidelines do not include gender accessibility).
Categories: Current practice