The concept of Gender Based Analysis Plus keeps in mind that different laws, policies, infrastructure and communication methods affect people in different ways. For products and services that are meant for the general public to use, it is sometimes easy to forget that what is easy for us, may not be easy for others. Beyond just gender, other factors are considered such as literacy level, age, access to technology, race, sexuality, and more.
As migrants to this country, I would say that we have experienced this in some way, the feeling that our circumstances are not fully considered. There is a desire to make the system just a bit simpler and easier to navigate and understand.
I volunteer for our city’s public transit advisory board, and I’m glad that in many ways, the members of board are diverse. We did an evaluation of one of the transit stations and realized pretty quickly that our fellow volunteer, who is visually impaired and can read only large print, immediately had difficulty with reading the directional signs. I pretended to be a mother and had a baby stroller to push around. Unfortunately, identifying entrances with elevators and ramps proved to be very difficult as well.
I attended a fundraising gala for an organization, and the lively emcee was working in sync with a sign language interpreter on stage, so that those who could not hear him could still understand what was being said. The State of the City Address by the mayor of the City of Edmonton, was accessible via Facebook live so that those who could not attend the event downtown could still watch. On top of that, there was live captioning of the video for those who are hearing impaired, or even just those who have a technical issues with their computer speakers. Talk about making this work for as many people as possible. It’s incredible!
Winter brings up a lot of discussions about Gender Based Analysis Plus as well. I feel like a party pooper by mentioning winter already. But let’s be honest, our first snowfall can happen anytime now. With limited resources, and different people or organizations being responsible for different things, the gaps and inconsistencies can make the most vulnerable in the community suffer. Snow and ice clearing are very important to make sure everyone is safe when traveling. I get really scared walking on sidewalks and crossing roads when I know that it could be dangerous for me. What should be prioritized? Should it be sidewalks, because people who really need to walk at any time of the year need to be safe? Or should it be residential roads, because the cost of accidents can be excessive if the roads are not safe?
Other terminologies come to mind, such as the concept of privilege and subtle discrimination.
It sounds like a lot to consider, but most things used by the general public definitely has to be disability-friendly, senior-friendly, child-friendly, gender-friendly, newcomer-friendly. Do our current laws on sexual assault make it easy for male victims to report and be supported? I don’t even think that it works well for women to begin with. Many fancy buildings, usually commercial buildings, have elevator buttons printed and also engraved in braille letters, which is great for the visually impaired. Is that part of the building code so that even smaller buildings should have them?
When people make comments such as “well, how about this other group of people, will this work for them?”, I encourage people to pause for a moment. It’s not necessarily about being difficult and petty. Whether it is a community service program, a government policy, or designing products for one’s business, being inclusive can demonstrate creativity and caring for everyone who may be impacted.