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A couple of weeks ago, I sprained my wrist. How I did it is rather silly - in an attempt to avoid my reactive dog interacting with an off leash dog, I opted to cut a corner and escape via a grassy slope. Unfortunately, morning dew caught me off guard, and I slipped, fell, and thanks to my lizard brain – put my hand out to help break my fall.

I say this not to gain sympathy, but rather to point out a truth, seemingly universally ignored: disabilities impact all of us at some point in our lives, regardless of who you are, how much money you have, or what your genetic makeup might be. It is nearly impossible to escape temporary or permanent disability, and it’s only when we’re affected that we realize how truly inhospitable the world is to people with accessibility needs.

As I one-handedly attempted to open a jar of peanut butter, for example, I couldn’t help but reflect on how exhausted I was once I figured out how to get my snack out of its container. Opening a jar with two hands, as a grown adult with muscle memory and decades of practice, is a non-issue. Taking five minutes to find an alternative approach (mine involved some clever usage of a non-slip mat, wrapping the elbow of my injured arm around the jar, and downward twisting force with my uninjured hand onto a table) took so much brain power that I almost didn’t want my snack anymore. (Fret not, dear reader, as I was too hungry to not reap the reward of my extraneous effort!)

In a similar vein, there’s been a lot of construction at the top of my block: crews were chopping up the corners and repaving them to include tactile paving and ramps to make the area more accessible. Yes, the construction noise and debris is super annoying. But those ramps are for more than just folks who happen to be blind - they’re helpful for caregivers pushing strollers, kids on bicycles, and folks moving furniture with dollies. In pursuit of helping make sidewalks more accessible to a small group of people, we’re ultimately making sidewalks more accessible to everyone.

The fact is, this is universally true: Making things better for those most in need makes things better for everyone. I learned this when I worked in tech, and I brought that same philosophy with me to Alpine Parrot. We inherently make clothes for bigger bodies - but we are also making the outdoors more accessible to folks who were traditionally excluded by lack of access to apparel that kept them safe and comfortable in nature. More folks with a relationship with the outdoors has a positive impact across the board (but I’ll get into that more in a future post). 

I’m feeling a lot better now, and though not fully healed, I am able to open the peanut butter jar with both hands again. But I’m making a promise to myself to be more aware of the ways in which I have taken seemingly mundane aspects of my life for granted, and to identify methods in which they can become more accessible.

Have you noticed things in your world that can be more accessible? What would it take to improve them for yourself and others?