Things You Take For Granted – How Public Spaces Became Accessible

At crossings, junctions, shopping centres, arenas and schools; dropped kerbs and ramps are a sight so commonplace, they are something that many people don’t give a second thought to.

You’ve probably never given much thought as to why, but the reason they are so common, however, is actually the result of an act of defiance by students at the University of California in Berkeley.

Michael Pachovas, a disabled student at the university, became frustrated with his inability to get around on his own. To get from his student accommodation to his lectures was an obstacle course of inaccessible kerbs, ledges and roads. He decided to do something about this, and gathered a group of friends one night in the early 1970’s. They created a crude ramp on a Berkeley street with cement, allowing students like himself the freedom and the independence of easier movement.

Their act of defiance inspired others, and in 1972, Berkeley installed its first official “kerb cut”. Shortly afterwards, hundreds more kerb cuts followed, and the movement began to snowball across the country.

Kerb cuts changed the way we think about access and opportunity. We now take dropped kerbs, ramps and lifts for granted. They not only enrich the lives of the people that really need them, but also the lives of everyone. Mothers with pushchairs, business travellers wheeling luggage, employees pushing heavy goods, even cyclists. At some point, everyone has likely benefitted from this movement revolution.

Technology has advanced since the first kerb cuts were made, allowing people with mobility issues further independence. Mobility scooters and wheelchairs have become lighter and easier to manoeuvre, thus opening up more public spaces that were previously inaccessible.

With most public spaces in the UK providing access requirements today, it is sometimes easy to forget that the simple things we take for granted are the result of a few people challenging the status quo.

Although we can’t claim to have done anything on quite the same scale as a political movement, but here at A Mobility Shop, our goal is to provide access to great mobility products to as many people as possible, with affordably priced equipment and friendly service.

We also have the means to enhance your home with bathroom aids and building aids, making it work for you to make life as simple as possible.


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