Elevators and ramps are just a small part of accessibility -- the rest is up to us.
Kevan Chandler is familiar with what most would call “accessibility” — ramps, elevators, automatic doors. But he and his friends are redefining the way we think about accessibility with their organization, We Carry Kevan.
It all began when a group of friends decided they wanted to backpack through Europe. But there was a problem: one of those friends has spinal muscular atrophy, which means he is confined to a wheelchair with limited use of his limbs. But they decided to find a way to make him not-so-confined. They adapted a backpack to carry Kevan on their backs, and, just like that, everywhere became accessible.
“Everything became accessible, because we did it differently,” Kevan Chandler says. And after news of their adventure spread, they saw an opportunity for an even greater impact and they founded their non-profit, We Carry Kevan, to challenge societal definitions of accessibility. Chandler explains that while ramps and parking spaces are helpful, our collective approach to accessibility can’t end there. “Ultimately, accessibility is people helping people,” he says. That is what makes the world accessible to all of us.
A quote on the group’s website quoting J.M. Barrie is super appropriate here: “Your God is watching to see whether you are adventurous.” That adventure might be a different experience for each of us, but it is not just an individual adventure to which we are called, it’s a communal adventure.
No one can make it through life alone, Kevan reminds us, whether we are disabled or not. Accessibility is about people, and people need each other. Or, as their website puts it, “There is no I in Kevan.”