Physical obstacles for people with disabilities
Many are excluded from active participation in society because of doorways that are too narrow for wheelchairs; steps that cannot be mounted leading to buildings, buses, trains and aircraft; telephones and light switches that cannot be reached; and sanitary facilities that cannot be used. Similarly they can be excluded by communication barriers, for example oral communication which ignores the needs of the hearing impaired and written information which ignores the needs of the visually impaired. Such barriers are the result of ignorance and lack of concern; they exist despite the fact that most of them could be avoided by inexpensive yet careful planning. Although some countries have enacted legislation and launched campaigns of public education to eliminate such obstacles, the problem remains a crucial one.
Structural barriers turn the man-made environment into a frustrating obstacle course for an appreciable number of the world's citizens. The aged, mothers with prams, wheel-chair users, pregnant women, people with chronic heart or bronchial conditions, the person with a crutch, all are daily impeded, inconvenienced and endangered by architectural barriers.
The problem is exaggerated. The handicapped do after all constitute only a minority of the population, and the most severely handicapped - those forced to sit in a wheel-chair - account for only a minute part of the population. Even if we were to mobilize all allies such as infants, the aged, the poor-sighted, pregnant women etc, it would still be difficult to get up to as much as 10% of the population.