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Accessibility and health are inextricably linked

Accessibility and health are inextricably linked

GP Dr Danny Chapman talks about how our day to day lives are influenced by accessibility

Take a moment to consider what it is that keeps you healthy. Exercise, perhaps? The latest diet craze? Most of us try to eat well and stay active to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But consider how much we take for granted to achieve this. I am fortunate in that I have no accessibility issues, and the most difficult part of going to the gym for me is trying to find a parking space. Similarly, whilst I might be a lacklustre chef, I can nip into any supermarket to pick up a salad or easy-cook veg. 

Now consider what actually keeps you healthy. Exercise and a healthy diet are the dressing on the salad of what really keeps us grounded and living well. What matters more is the ability to go to work, see a friend, grab a coffee or watch a movie. Day to day activities stimulate our minds, soothe our psyche and move our muscles enough to give us the foundations from which we can live how we want to. 

Yet for people with accessibility issues, these simple tasks can become insurmountable. Popping into town for a coffee could present any number of challenges if the bus service and coffee shop haven’t considered how their services are accessible to wheelchair users, perhaps. A movie is going to provide no relaxation time to someone hard of hearing if there is no subtitled option. A fully accessibly, state-of-the art gym is no good on its own if the sportswear shop is inaccessible. How then, can we promote living well to those with disability and accessibility issues if they cannot even live simply? How can we expect people to become as active and able as they can if we do not include them when they cannot?

Health is so much more than your medication or what you weigh or what illnesses you do or don’t suffer with. Being healthy is first and foremost about fulfilling your basic psychological, spiritual and physical needs. The biggest barrier facing hundreds of thousands of people is accessibility. Businesses have a responsibility to provide accessibility in order to contribute towards their community’s health, not just to generate extra custom. People have a right to be freely able to carry out everyday activities without barriers. Accessibility and health are inextricably linked.