Curb cuts

It’s hard to explain why this episode of 99 percent invisible resonated so much with me. Perhaps it’s the fact that I briefly was a wheelchair user in my youth. In any case, I find it intriguing that the fight for desegregation of abled as well as disabled people happened in parallel on different sides of the US.

Furthermore, I love the fact that I now have a word to describe “curb cuts” in design.

In universal design, there’s something called the curb cut effect. Basically, things intended to benefit people with disabilities wind up benefiting everyone. Curb cuts, which are intended for wheelchair users to be able to get on sidewalks, help bicyclists, parents with strollers, delivery people, and a dozen other nondisabled groups. Similarly, closed captioning, which was originally meant to benefit Deaf people, helps people who have trouble with auditory information processing (hi!), people who like talking during films, and people trying to watch TV in noisy bars. – ozymandias