Millions of American pet owners have a disability, said Dr. Kate KuKanich, Associate Professor at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
She spoke at the session, Optimizing the Veterinary Community to Best Serve Clients and Staff with Disabilities, a session at the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges Annual Conference held March 4-6.
“We are a service-oriented profession, and these are our customers,” she says. “For us it makes financial and moral sense to accommodate and look after all people and pets.”
Dr. KuKanich gives the following advice to improve accessibility in veterinary rooms:
- Improve parking accessibility by increasing the space next to an accessible parking lot, adding labeled signage, and creating parking spaces near entrances.
- An entrance should ideally be paved and flat, have a ramp for level changes, and have a clear sign showing where the barrier-free entrance is.
- Provide customers who need assistance entering a building by posting a sign in the parking lot near an accessible parking lot that reads “Call this number for help with hospital entry” and consider doing so when confirming to use a similar message from appointments.
- Exterior doors should be automatic or lightweight and at least 32 inches wide with flat thresholds.
- Keep the floors dry and clean. Floor mats can be trip hazards or hurdles, so make sure they are textured and not too tall.
- Within a building, the reception desk should be less than 36 inches high or there should be a lower section to facilitate communication. The seating arrangement in a lobby should provide space for a wheelchair. TVs can be distracting by the sound – consider muting them and using closed captioning. Interior doors should be light; be at least 32 inches wide; have a handle that can be opened with a closed fist, e.g. B. a lever shape; and to be able to open from both directions.
- Ideally, toilets should have plenty of space for people who use mobility aids to enter, turn and close the door. Add grab bars and make sure toilet paper isn’t blocked. Also, toilet soap, paper towels, and hand dryers should be low and accessible. Consider remodeling a space by converting two booths into one more accessible.
“Keep the conversation going and watch out for barriers in the veterinary workplace and suggestions for improvement. Take action and teach your team, ”said Dr. KuKanich.