“I don’t want hospital gear, I want things that look like jewellery,” said Maayan Ziv last week at an event held at the World Urban Pavilion in Regent Park.
The celebrated Toronto-based entrepreneur and activist, who lives with muscular dystrophy, had this candid thought when recently introduced to a new accessibility product.
“When we talk about accessible design, the level of aspiration that I really want to see is a move away from this,” she continued. “There’s phases; you have to understand the needs of people and focus first on function. But once we understand function, how can we make it feel good? How do we get to the point where it’s not a reminder that you have a need that’s different than someone else, and it just melts into the environment; it doesn’t stick out like something you may see in a hospital?”
The sad reality, however, is that many spaces throughout Toronto lack even what Ziv calls the “clunky and awkward” accessibility features in the first place. And when 24% of Ontario’s population is currently living with some sort of a disability, it remains a head-scratcher why widespread inclusion and accessibility hasn’t made its way into the housing market — and everyday life for that matter.