8 Clichés About Blind People

8 Clichés About Blind People

8 Clichés About Blind People

 

Maybe it’s because sight is the sense most used by humans or maybe it is because of our deep-rooted fear of the dark, but blindness provokes both dread and curiosity. There are many preconceived ideas about blind people. Here are some that we will now debunk.

1. Blind people have a sixth sense

False. Blind people have one fewer sense, not an extra one.

The word blind simply means unable to see. Over the course of history, blind people have sometimes elicited irrational fears and inordinate admiration at other times, and almost always some form of fascination. Why is a sixth sense often attributed to them? If they sometimes give the impression that they have perceived some preternatural sign, it is only because being deprived of the primary sense used by humans obliges them to use their other senses to a far greater extent than those with sight generally do.

2. Blind people hear better

False. Blind people hear neither better nor worse than the rest of the population.

However, hearing is the principal sense they use to compensate for their lack of sight. With the same auditory acuity, a blind person can capture more sound information than a sighted person. It is first of all a matter of attention to the soundscape and its interpretation. So, you should not be surprised if a blind person hears something that you completely missed. Quite simply, your concentration was on something else, probably what was in front of your eyes.

3. All blind people can read braille

Again false. Only about 10% of blind people can read braille. Far from all of them!

In the majority of cases, blindness occurs after the age of learning to read. This disability affects a large majority of people over 60. So, it is rare that such people would have access to learning braille. Furthermore, the sense of touch can be altered through manual work, an illness or medical treatment. Even when learned early on, braille requires regular practice or it can be lost. It’s not easy to find access to documents in braille on a daily basis.
For the blind people who have mastered it, braille is, nevertheless, a key tool for social and professional inclusion.

4. Braille is a type of foreign language—very difficult to learn

False. Braille is just an alphabet, a code for transcribing letters.

It is a touch-based writing system, where each character comprises a combination of embossed dots. Its 64 different dot combinations are enough to transcribe all letters of the alphabet, including accented letters, figures and punctuation. While mastering braille requires a honed sense of touch, it is, on the other hand, very easy to decode a braille text by sight using an alphabet and some basic rules.

Everything You Have Always Wanted to Know on Braille Mysterious Writing

5. Blind people have no concept of colors

It all depends on the age the person became blind.

Obviously, those who have never seen colors will have difficulty imagining them. But the majority of blind people were not always blind. They maintain their visual reference throughout their lives. In any case, even people who were born blind are able understanding the codes connected to colors: red or green light, blue sky or water, green leaves turning red in the fall… There is no need to see to understand the underlying meaning of colors.

6. Blind people don’t dream

False. They do, like everyone else!

Dreams are made up of impressions captured during the day. Sight is the dominant sense among humans, so dreams are mostly composed of a stream of images. For those who have never seen, they do not dream in images. For people who were born blind, their dreams contain impressions originating from other senses: hearing, touch, smell and even taste. For those who could see earlier in life, their dreams can also retain clear images as before or images altered due to the degeneration of their sight.

7. Blind people cannot use a computer

False. Of course they can. Fortunately, there are many adaptations to computers allowing blind people to use a computer.

Screen readers are software programs that read aloud all that appears on a computer screen through a voice synthesis: entered text, web pages, menus, dialog boxes, etc. These programs include keyboard shortcuts allowing the blind user to move from one element to another as a sighted person can do visually. They can also be connected to a braille display, a sort of tablet that creates embossed dots representing the different letters during reading.

These tools, however, are expensive and require intensive training to be able to use effectively. Their effectiveness also relies heavily on how much the software developers and webmasters incorporated digital accessibility into their design.

Artificial Intelligence and Accessibility: Examples of a Technology that Serves People with Disabilities

8.      Blind people cannot use a smartphone

False. This may be more surprising than the fact that they can use a computer.

With their completely smooth screen and near absence of buttons, it is not readily obvious that blind people would be able to use smartphones. But smartphone manufacturers have considered this issue in depth and today offer apps like VoiceOver for iOS and TalkBack for Android. These apps vocalize all actions made on the screen and allow interaction through adapted gestures.

The Smartphone: a Revolution for the Blind and Visually Impaired!

Want to learn more about the everyday lives of people with a visual impairment? Check out these articles:

How Do the Blind Safely Cross the Road?

6 Tips to Communicate with a Blind or Visually Impaired Person

Updated on January 19th, 2022/Published on May 10th, 2019

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For disabled people, disruptions to their means of transportation can cause plenty of stress and added difficulties. That’s why such situations need to be anticipated, more so than for other travelers.

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Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

Making Public Transport Information Accessible to Disabled People?

Making Public Transport Information Accessible to Disabled People?

Making Public Transport Information Accessible to Disabled People

 

Planning a journey, knowing the waiting times at bus stops, knowing where to get off, taking correct action in the case of disruption—using public transport requires having access to information at every step along the way. The task, of course, is far more complicated for people living with a disability, whether motor, sensory or intellectual. This article offers a list of solutions that can be used to provide accessible public transport information to all types of passengers.

The Needs of Disabled Passengers Regarding Accessible Public Transport Information

“Passenger information” encompasses all information transmitted to transport network passengers at every stage of their journey. Passenger information can be provided in different paper or digital formats and can be checked remotely or at stations and stops or even on board vehicles. Even though such information is for all travelers, providing it to those living with a disability is far trickier.


Disabled travelers need to receive the information in real time and in an appropriate format in order to:

⊗ Prepare their itinerary according to their mobility (location of stops, transportation network accessibility);

⊗ Know in real time the operating condition of adapted equipment (elevators, escalators, etc.);

⊗ Be informed about the next step in their journey (checklist);

⊗ Know what to do in the case of a service disruption.

Their specific needs are complicated during irregular occurrences (breakdowns, strikes, detours, stops not served, etc.). People with hearing loss can rarely get information on disruptions since it is usually announced orally. Those with visual impairment lose their bearings and find it difficult to find an alternative itinerary. People with a motor disability may find themselves unable to take an alternative means of transportation because of physical obstacles.

Finally, people with an intellectual disability will also have difficulty understanding the information, making a decision and finding new reference points. Another significant aspect is that the stress caused by disruptions to all travelers is far more burdensome on disabled passengers due to their particular difficulties and their sometimes heightened sensitivity (psychiatric disability, autism).

Trip Preparation with Easy-to-Use Trip Planners

For a person with a disability, preparation is key to a successful trip. Some years ago, trip planning relied on maps and schedules jotted down on paper, and they still are essential to some people, but the digital alternatives available today have made planning far more efficient. Transportation operators usually provide a trip planner on their website, supplemented by a mobile app.

However, these trip planners should fulfill the following conditions if they are to be usable by a disabled person and respond to their needs:

⊗ The web or phone interface must conform to digital accessibility standards (usable with a screen reader, adaptable to the user’s display settings, etc.).

⊗ The options for the trip planner must include accessibility criteria: elevators, escalators, level access, etc.;

⊗ Stations and stops must be possible to locate on a map and by their actual address, which must be fully written out (for those who cannot read the map and so that it can be entered into a GPS).

To facilitate the mobility of everyone, all information on the transportation networks should be made public so that it can be integrated into multi-modal trip planners. In fact, the use of apps or trip planners that are specific to single cities is often an obstacle.

Written or Audio Materials Designed for Different Disabilities

Despite the development of digital technologies, physical materials can still be of great service to many transportation passengers. This is why it’s important to make simple maps or large-font timetables available to passengers. London, for example, has a wide variety of subway maps; they come in contrasted colors and audio format. Some maps only show the above-ground network for those with claustrophobia. Another example is Toulouse (France), which offers an audio description of its subway stations.

Visual and Audio Traveler Information Points

Departures, connections and arrivals, every step in a journey has its stop. At every stop, people need accessible public transport information.


Traveler information points are illuminated signs at bus stops, and tram or subway stations. These signs notify passengers of the waiting time and any possible disruptions to a line serving the stop.
But what use are these to a visually impaired person? The information points have to be in audio format, possibly through the use of a remote control or a smartphone. This function has two advantages. Firstly, the on-demand audio provides illiterate people with the same information everyone else receives. Secondly, the activation of the sign by remote also allows visually impaired people to precisely locate the stop and confirm that they are where they want to be.


This solution has already been rolled out across numerous cities around the world, such as San Francisco, Auckland, Toulouse, Lyon and Prague.

Read our article: Obstacles in Public Transport: What Solutions for Physical Disability?

Disruption Announcements in Audio and Writing

In the event of disruptions (breakdowns, strikes, re-routing of lines or just a simple change of platform), the information is usually given to passengers over a PA system located in the vehicles or at the stop. Deaf people are left noticing the change in attitude of the passengers around them yet oblivious to the reason. The situation becomes more distressing for them when they soon realize there is a problem but have completely missed out on any solution that has been proposed. It is therefore essential that such information be also given on screens installed for this purpose.

SMS Alerts on Disruptions: Universal Accessibility

For disabled people, disruptions to their means of transportation can cause plenty of stress and added difficulties. That’s why such situations need to be anticipated, more so than for other travelers.
SMS alerts are already available on many urban transport networks, providing real-time information on disruptions affecting the entire network or only those lines selected beforehand by the user according to their usual routes.
This system is aimed at all transportation users. For a person living with a disability to also benefit from this technology, it should be ensured that subscription to the service does not act as an obstacle. Adherence to digital accessibility standards and a simple procedure remain crucial.
It ought to be noted that this system of SMS alerts should not replace other methods of providing information about disruptions. After all, those without a cell phone or who have not registered for the service would remain in the dark otherwise.

Visual and Audio Announcement of Next Stop

In all public transportation, the announcement of the upcoming stop is an essential piece of information for passengers, all the more so if they are not familiar with the route. This information is often available on an illuminated panel. But it must also be given orally. Obviously, this is for those with a visual impairment but, more generally, it is for anyone who cannot read whether due to illiteracy or simply because of where they are sitting.

Some smartphone apps alert users to the moment when they should request their stop.

Innovative Smartphone Apps for Connecting Passengers

The use of smartphones is widespread and has opened up new possibilities for individual travel. Some applications offer to connect a disabled person with one-off voluntary helpers, whether for a minute, an hour or more.
A good example of this type of app is BeMyEyes, which allows blind or visually impaired people to get visual help via a video-conversation with any one of a number of volunteers ready to lend their eyes for a few minutes.
As for mobility, Faciligo is a French travel buddy platform allowing people with reduced mobility to find a travel companion for any type of journey on public transportation.
The idea is to connect travelers with reduced mobility or a disability and even elderly passengers with able-bodied travelers thereby improving transportation access to people who cannot travel alone. For the support provided, the companion receives a discount on the price of their ticket.

Workshops on Transportation Networks for the Most Vulnerable Users

Help from another person is sometimes indispensable in preparing for a trip so that a disabled person to set off independently on public transportation. Some transportation operators have established workshops or courses allowing disabled people to learn and understand the network.


In Paris, the transport operator RATP organizes Mobility Workshops. These workshops were originally aimed at passengers with intellectual disabilities, but they soon expanded to schools and have received high praise from participants.

These are great examples of accessible public transport information that you can also implement in your network to help your users.

The addition of audio information to visual information and vice versa, the setting up of accessible digital services, the use of phone apps, and on-demand community support are just some of the numerous local initiatives that have sprung up to open up information access to all passengers. The main issue today remains standardizing the different sources and making the information known to everyone so that every person can reap the benefits.

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For disabled people, disruptions to their means of transportation can cause plenty of stress and added difficulties. That’s why such situations need to be anticipated, more so than for other travelers.

writer

Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

How Can a Smart City Make Life Easier for People with Disabilities?

How Can a Smart City Make Life Easier for People with Disabilities?

How Can a Smart City Make Life Easier for People with Disabilities?

 

In recent years, digital technology has contributed to undeniable advances that have made life easier for everyone. At a time when this technology is at the heart of building new smart cities, what can be done to ensure that the situation of disabled people is alleviated and not aggravated? How can everyone’s specific needs be taken into consideration? In essence, how can a smart city be made inclusive?

We offer a reflection on this hugely strategic topic for the future!

What Is a Smart City?

A smart city is one that fully uses information and communications technology (ICT) to create an environment that can sustainably develop. This concept originates from the idea that digital technology can be used to improve the life of human beings. On a practical side, a smart city is basically based on a sensor network, connected objects and data management systems, which constantly collect and transmit information on the weather, air pollution, traffic flows, energy use and other factors. This data is then analyzed in real time, allowing local governments, businesses and even citizens to make informed decisions.

Many of the world’s cities and metropolises have taken steps in transitioning to becoming smarter, connected cities. Their approach is centered on areas such as air quality, traffic circulation, energy savings, full use of public spaces, ease of travel and active transport.

The creation of a smart city is simply a new way of conceiving the city. The use of digital technology is incorporated into the physical infrastructure so that residents and users receive the best service.

Disability as an Innovation Driver for the Smart City

Singapore: the most intelligent city

Singapore is considered to be the most intelligent city and thus, the most accomplished example of a smart city in the world. Why? Thanks to the digitalization of the public services of the city-state, Singapore provides its citizens with a superior quality of life. Its goal? Smoothen everything to make their everyday lives easier.

But it goes beyond that by making its citizens actively participate in the creation and the improvement of the city’s services. For example, Singapore gave them access to an online design tool to conceive what one of the airport areas will look like. But the city-state also used data analysis from the social media of its citizens to map its cultural activities.

Singapore has perfectly understood what a smart city should be: to meet the needs of its citizens and to fully suit them, the city needs to be moulded according to their image. Consequently, even if technology is at the centre of the smart city, it remains managed, modified and controlled by humans.

How Could Disabled People Benefit from the Advances of a Smart City?

The cities involved in this transition generally perceive a smart city as a path towards a more environmentally friendly and human place to live. Looking at the number of projects by students, engineers and start-ups proposing technological solutions for disabled people, there is an obvious drive towards the construction of an inclusive smart city. Yet, real-life examples of such a noble idea remain few and far between. The solutions put forward are either based on a promising technology that still neglects the real needs and uses of those to whom it is directed, or are based on actual needs and uses but the solution’s sustainability is jeopardized because it lacks a viable economic model.

The way to enable disabled people to benefit from the advances of a smart city is to consider their specific needs from the very start of the projects. Just like physical accessibility for roadways and buildings, the cost for digital accessibility is almost minuscule when integrated into the design brief at the very beginning. Project stakeholders just need to be aware of this!

Let’s use the example of Singapore one more time: its public space is one of the most accessible places in the world. The same holds true for its public transport, its cultural venues such as museums and even for its sporting facilities that are adapted to parasports. Accessibility isn’t taken slightly by the city-state and neither is inclusion!

Singapore created “Enabling village”: a concept of experimentation focused on disability, accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. Based on universal design, this inclusive village strives to train and employ people with disabilities.

Overcoming Barriers to an Inclusive Smart City

According to a 2016 survey by Smart Cities for All, experts from around the world identified the lack of awareness about disability and accessibility in design and innovation as one of the main impediments to the “Smart City for All.”

On the other hand, the time users need to learn new technologies also represents a barrier. Elderly people, who often have a disability, are those who have the greatest trouble in adapting to new tools. Moreover, the free flow of data sometimes generates irrational fears. Therefore, education on these different solutions is an important matter.

As for the perspective of decision-makers, making way for innovation is not always possible. Large swathes of urban land are governed by specific rules and regulations. Meanwhile, the appropriation of public funds to experiment with new technology is generally seen as too risky. Such a decision can only arise from strong political will.

Finally, building an accessible or inclusive city needs to respect the continuity in the travel chain. For an inclusive smart city, we must also guarantee continuity in the information chain. The management of urban spaces is shared among many and varied public and private entities: municipalities, inter-municipalities, county, region, transportation operators, business, individuals, etc. A person in a wheelchair can’t enter an accessible building if the sidewalk doesn’t slope to the entrance: movement is impossible if the chain of information is broken.

The new services for the inhabitants and users of tomorrow will all be created from the same raw material: data. Far from being an exhaustible supply, as in the case of fossil fuels, the amount of data increases exponentially at 40% per year. The issue today is to make the data homogeneous, public and open, thereby allowing the creation of new services. Otherwise, such a colossal reserve cannot be tapped. Another issue directly linked to data relates to its life cycle. Data has to be made available in real time, and the data that becomes obsolete must be removed as soon as possible so the message doesn’t get distorted. Several technical committees focused on smart cities have already established different national and international standardization bodies.

Interested to know how New York City is turning into a Smart City? Read our article!

Keeping the Human Being at the Heart of the Initiative

If data represents the fuel and the smart city the vehicle, the destination is nothing more than facilitating the lives of people in all their diversity. To reach the goal of an inclusive smart city, it is essential to analyze the specific needs and uses of the inhabitants. Information should be provided in a way that is adapted to each person’s physical abilities and limitations. The selection of information must also correspond to these criteria and take into account the person’s situation.

When we think “smart,” we think “digital.” Yet, our towns and cities are real, impregnated with their own history, geography and ways of life. Connecting the digital world to the physical world, a concept known as “phygital,” is a key element in building smart cities that are truly inclusive. As it is today, the communication of information relating to the physical accessibility of places is cruelly lacking. Accessibility to information should go hand in hand with accessibility to places so that everyone has proper access to services. The decision-makers of cities should look at questions of physical accessibility simultaneously with digital accessibility.

The above shows that a smart city can be a marvelous opportunity to make society more inclusive. However, services need to be developed not just for the masses but also with due regard for the specific needs of minorities. Political will, financial resources, a desire for technological innovation and, most of all, experiments and feedback on usage are the essential ingredients for an inclusive smart city.

Are you already looking towards the future? Then, these articles are made for you:

Artificial Intelligence and Accessibility: Examples of a Technology that Serves People with Disabilities

Creating an Accessible and Barrier-Free Society Through Inclusive Design: a Constant Renewal

Updated on September 14th, 2021

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If data represents the fuel and the smart city the vehicle, the destination is nothing more than facilitating the lives of people in all their diversity.

writer

Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

How Do the Blind Safely Cross the Road?

How Do the Blind Safely Cross the Road?

How Do the Blind Safely Cross the Road?

 

Find a crosswalk, wait for the right moment, get to the opposite sidewalk by walking straight across. It is quite common for the average pedestrian. But for a person who has lost their sight, every step is complicated. This is especially true in today’s urban environments where more and more types of transportation methods coexist. Blind and visually impaired people can do nothing but trust their other working senses such as hearing and touch. Yet, they still need to rely on some clear indicators. This is where adherence to road and public space accessibility regulations makes sense.

Visual and Tactile Clues for Locating a Crosswalk

For people with impaired eyesight who can still make out differences in brightness, the white lines marking crosswalks are an essential aspect. They are also an excellent marker for guide-dogs, which are given the order “find the lines.” It is thus a reliable clue that must be used as much as possible.
Blind people who use a cane to get around, on the other hand, have further difficulties. They first find the general location of crosswalks based on the noise of traffic. Then, they search for tactile paving on the ground. The paving should have an obvious contrast in feeling from the rest of the sidewalk. Its visual contrast is also an aid for the visually impaired because its color generally lasts longer than the paint on the rest of the pavement.

Listening for the Right Moment and Staying the Course

Knowing the moment when the street is free to cross safely is perhaps one of the most distressing tasks for a person who is blind or visually impaired. Hearing is the main sense relied on at this stage.

However, keeping an ear out is not enough! Knowing how to analyze the traffic flow is a necessary skill. How many lanes are there to cross? What vehicles are using the street (cars, bikes, tram, etc.)? Are there traffic lights? Who has right of way? Street crossing skills are acquired through courses on Orientation and Mobility (O&M) for the blind. An O&M specialist is a professional who teaches those with poor eyesight how to orient themselves and walk in safety. It is also through these courses that a blind or visually impaired person knows how to maintain their direction during the crossing.

Limits to the Aids

The white stripes of crosswalks, the tactile paving, Orientation and Mobility training… none of that ever crossed your mind, did it? You are probably saying to yourself that it is great that all that exists, and you would be right! Unfortunately, it is not enough and many factors compromise these aids.

1. Crosswalks disappear due to time and the constant traffic. They are not always repainted to maintain the visual contrast. Furthermore, many pedestrian crossings are not marked out by white or yellow strips but by more subtle elements such as studs or cobblestones.

2. Tactile strips are not always placed in a way that serves as an effective point of reference. They are easy to notice when the sidewalk dips so that the change in gradient acts as an indicator. However, urban improvements placing the sidewalk at the same level as the road has become more common in an effort to help the movement of people with reduced mobility. This causes a loss of reference points for visually impaired people and makes it more difficult to find tactile paving. We should not forget either that under dead leaves or snow, the embossed paving can no longer be felt.

3. The number of vehicles using the street complicates the analysis of traffic by ear. In addition to the number, another complication is the almost silent nature of some vehicles such as bikes or electric cars that share the road with other extremely noisy vehicles like machinery and street cleaners. Furthermore, the absence of different levels or tactile points of references between different streets makes their identification impossible.

4. Finally, those with impaired vision who have had access to Orientation and Mobility training are very much a minority. O&M specialists are rare and not easily found outside large cities. Meanwhile, the quick changes to the urban environment require continuous refresher courses, which is far from possible today.

 

Are your pedestrian crossings safe for blind people to cross? This article will answer all your questions!

 

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS): a Vital Solution

Considering all this information, the use of a sound system on pedestrian signals or on other types of street furniture is essential nowadays. Of course, blind and visually impaired pedestrians need some training on the use of acoustic traffic signals. But such traffic signals solve a large number of difficulties, which is the reason why they have been mandated by accessibility regulations in many countries.

1. Acoustic traffic signals make it easier to find a crosswalk. When they can be activated from a distance by a remote or smartphone, such signals allow visually impaired people to easily locate a pedestrian crossing. They just need to follow the source of the sound.

2. These types of signals also indicate the best time to start crossing. Even though listening to the traffic remains indispensable in order to avoid accidents with a vehicle running a red light, lights with audio signals greatly facilitate decision-making. The beeps, tweets, bells or voice messages from the lights clearly indicate the moment to cross.

The customized message with the street name allows a person with impaired vision to distinguish the street they want to cross perpendicular to.

3. Acoustic signals allow a person to maintain a straight trajectory during the entire crossing.

Again, thanks to the sound, visually impaired people can orient themselves more easily during the crossing by listening to the sound emanating from the other side. Accordingly, it is essential that acoustic traffic signals are properly installed, as close as possible to the center of the crosswalk.

Even when pedestrian signals have been removed, for example, to improve traffic flow, it is possible to install audio beacons on buildings or integrate them into street furniture so that essential audible indications can still be provided to the visually impaired.

It should now be clear that crossing the road is an enormous challenge for the blind and visually impaired and not only because they have to deal with cars. Finding the edge of the street and crosswalks and staying on course during the crossing are all just as important tasks. All these issues must be taken into account when developing an accessible roadway.

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The use of a sound system on pedestrian signals or on other types of street furniture is essential nowadays.

writer

Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

7 Clichés About Psychiatric Disability

7 Clichés About Psychiatric Disability

7 Clichés About Psychiatric Disability

 

Psychiatric disability, or mental illness, has long been associated with insanity. It very often (and wrongly) prompts an irrational fear in us. Like all other disabilities, it has many forms and a person can lead an active life with appropriate support.

1. Psychiatric disability does not affect me

Unfortunately, no family is safe from mental health issues, whether depression, anxiety, addiction, schizophrenia, anorexia or other. The WHO estimates that these disorders affect one in four people and that mental illness now represents the most common disability in the world.

2. Intellectual disability and psychiatric disability are the same thing

Even though the results of these two types of disabilities sometimes resemble each other, it is important to distinguish between them.
Intellectual disability is the result of a cognitive impairment that affects a person’s ability to learn, think and conceptualize. Psychiatric disability is the result of disabling psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and personality disorders. It is also often called “mental illness” but this can increase confusion between the two disabilities. In any case, psychiatric disability does not affect a person’s intellect. It simply makes it more difficult for them to use their intellectual abilities in certain circumstances or in a particular emotional state.

8 Clichés About Intellectual Disability

3. People who live with a psychiatric disability are unable to work

One of the main difficulties facing people affected by a psychiatric disability is keeping their job. The unemployment rate among people recognized as disabled workers is twice that of the general population. Nevertheless, with personalized support (rearrangement of work schedule and environment), they are more than capable of working and contributing their skills. A job can even act as an effective way of preventing their disorder from worsening.

4. A mental illness is for life, it cannot be cured

Studies show that the majority of people with mental health problems improve or even recover completely. They can then participate fully once again in family life, society and work, even if some symptoms linger on.

5. The only way to treat a person with a psychiatric disability is to commit them or medicate them

The vast majority of psychiatric patients are treated as outpatients and are never hospitalized. Psychotherapy, physiotherapy, social rehabilitation courses and support groups are just some of today’s alternatives to medication and hospitalization.

6. Schizophrenics are violent and dangerous. They often kill people

The statistics speak for themselves: less than 1% of crimes are committed by people suffering a serious mental illness. There is no connection between a psychiatric disorder and the committing of a crime.

7. There are no effective measures for promoting accessibility among people who have a psychiatric disability

Since anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of a psychiatric disability, anything that helps create a reassuring atmosphere is welcome. We can also add:

⊗ Hiring patient, respectful staff who are trained in receiving people with disabilities;

⊗ Posting simplified, illustrated signs with easy-to-understand words, colors, symbols and icons;

⊗ Using visually different carpets or floor coverings, or tactile strips to point out the main pathways;

⊗ Comforting background sound with noise-dampening coverings;

Indoor navigation apps such as Evelity: it can suit every user’s profile and provides step-by-step instructions to serenely guide people within complex venues.

Updated on January 19th, 2022/Published on May 10th, 2019

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Less than 1% of crimes are committed by people suffering a serious mental illness. There is no connection between a psychiatric disorder and the committing of a crime.

writer

Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.