Action Kit: Policy makers


Ensure that public facilities (buildings, streets, parks and recreational areas) are designed to be barrier-free for persons with HMD, including the ability to use cars in order to be mobile.

Main message:

Millions of people have functional limitations in the distance they can walk and the time they can stand unsupported. Legislation and regulations such as building codes or pedestrian-only designs create unnecessary barriers for persons with HMD. Focus on the importance of maneuverability for those with visible mobility disabilities has obscured the need for different types of accommodation for those with HMD:

  • Short distances to walk:  35-50 feet, but no more than 70 feet.
  • Brief periods to stand:  1-2 minutes, but no more than 5 minutes.

Types of accommodation needed:

  • Land use protocols and building codes modified to ensure that 70 feet is the longest distance a person needs to walk without being able to sit down and rest. See suggested accommodation guidelines.
  • Support the use of cars plus parking close to services protected.

“If not for my car, I would never be able to get out.”

Sample email:

Because of [the reasons for writing], I’m writing to share with you highlights of research on the lived experience of persons with hidden mobility disabilities – those who are able to walk but only a short distance and able to stand unsupported but only for a short time. The specific findings, which are detailed at are that:

  • Short distance = 35-50 feet, or at most 70 feet
  • Brief time = 1-2 minutes, or at most 5 minutes

Requirements to walk further or stand longer have serious health consequences and prevent persons with hidden mobility disabilities from engage in community activities.

Please share these findings with colleagues and other interested parties. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what changes you can effect to improve the ability of persons with HMD to participate fully and effectively in community life, particularly with regard to [the specific changes you are requesting].

Resources to use:

Examples of people to target:

  • Urban legislators
  • Federal and sub-federal policy makers
  • Individual political representatives