Barriers general

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A man and a woman are discussing in front of an accessible meeting venue. There are ramps and signage to the main building and to the washroom
© Julie Smith

Barriers are obstacles which prevent people from fully participating in society. They can be environmental, attitudinal or institutional:

  • Environmental barriers include physical barriers, for example the presence of stairs to enter school or a camp registration facility where ramps and handles have not been installed; but also, communication barrier that occurs when information is inaccessible for some people (for example blind or deaf people, people who cannot read or people with learning disabilities). 

  • Barriers linked to negative attitudes can result from stereotypes. For example assuming women with disabilities not needing reproductive health because they are considered to be 'asexual' or assuming that persons cannot participate to cash for work programmes because they have a disability or are older. 

  • Institutional barriers are policies, procedures, or situations that systematically disadvantage certain groups of people. 

Many barriers exist prior to disaster, while others might be created by the disaster or the humanitarian response.