Accessibility aids were located and discussed in the local Mall, requiring only a little time and attention to available resources. Our young learners were able to identify almost a dozen aids available for physical and emotional handicapping conditions in various businesses and the mall facility itself.
Similarly, to find a location well designed for accessibility, we also visited the Texas A&M University campus where participants were able to locate more than 20 aids in the buildings and grounds of the campus.
Taking additional effort beyond the minimum requirements for the merit badges, our participants were encouraged to measure the ramp angles (maximum of 1″ rise pet 1′ of ramp) and the force needed to open doors (8 lbs maximum) using simple equipment such as a scale for measuring fish weights.
The boys had the opportunity to investigate disabilities accmodations and to discuss the quality of life experience with another boy whose family took their time to come and speak with the entire group about the young man’s issues with spinal muscular atrophy (a subset of muscular distrophy that affects gross motor control without cognitive involvement).
Our young men were able to learn about different types of disabling conditions, to explore locations and accomodations intended to enhance the experience of visitors with different levels of access, and to discuss these and other techniques that provide the best experience possible for all visitors. By measuring path and door widths and trying out moving around in a wheelchair, they learned some of the challenges that could be encountered in the world should an injury or illness convey a disability upon them; while the opportunity to speak openly with another of their number enjoying a good quality of life while similarly affected prepars them to deal with others who may have different requirements or needs for involvement and enjoyment. It was an excellent event and I thank all who took the time to attend or to bring their children to take part.