Attitude is perhaps the most difficult barrier to overcome because it’s hard to change the way people think or behave. Some people don’t know how to communicate with those who have visible or invisible disabilities – for example, assuming someone with a speech problem has intellectual limitations and speaking to them in a manner that would be used with a child; or forming ideas about the person because of stereotypes or a lack of understanding. Some people may feel that they could offend the individual with a disability by offering help, or they ignore or avoid people with disabilities altogether. Remember, attitude is a major barrier that’s within our power to change.
Architectural or structural barriers may result from design elements of a building such as stairs, doorways, the width of hallways and even room layout. Information and communication barriers can make it difficult for people to receive or convey information. For example, a person who is Deaf cannot communicate via standard telephone. Things like small print size, low colour contrast between text and background, confusing design of printed materials and the use of language that isn’t clear or easy to understand can all cause difficulty.
Technology, or lack of it, can prevent people from accessing information. Everyday tools like computers, telephones and other aids can all present barriers if they are not set up or designed with accessibility in mind.
Systemic barriers can result from an organization’s policies, practices and procedures if they restrict people with disabilities, often unintentionally – for example, a clothing store with a “no refund” policy and no way for someone in a scooter to enter the change room.