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Invisible barriers in everyday life and where to find them

A person sits in front of a laptop and grabs his forehead in despair.

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A person sits in front of a laptop and grabs his forehead in despair.

Invisible barriers in everyday life and where to find them

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A person sits in front of a laptop and grabs his forehead in despair.

In our daily lives, we often encounter obstacles that are not apparent at first glance. These invisible barriers can take many forms and affect people from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances.  


Invisible barriers can manifest themselves in different areas. From social interactions to professional challenges and personal stresses. For example, prejudices or stereotypes against certain groups of people can create invisible barriers that limit their options and influence their experiences. This can lead to people being treated unfairly based on characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, or social status. 


Other invisible barriers can be found in mental health issues that are often not obvious, but can still have a significant impact on a person's well-being and performance. Of course, they can also occur in conjunction with non-visible and visible disabilities. People who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses, for example, may encounter invisible barriers that make it difficult to engage or be productive. The possible invisible barriers to disability and mental health problems are numerous. 


Of course, such invisible obstacles can also occur in physical form. For example, in the form of architectural barriers for people with reduced mobility or environmental factors that affect well-being, such as noise or light exposure. 


Here are some examples of barriers that are often overlooked in everyday life: 

Non-barrier-free elections

Even if the physical buildings where voting takes place are accessible, the actual voting process is not automatically accessible. The polling booths themselves must be checked to ensure that they do not impose barriers on people with certain disabilities.

For people with visual impairments or cognitive impairments, for example, it can be difficult to get the necessary information about the elections (about the parties/politicians, their election program, accessibility of the polling stations, etc.). 

Digital Barriers

Many websites and applications (around 75 % of the largest webshops, according to a study by Aktion Mensch) are not designed to be barrier-free and thus exclude people with disabilities. Common problems include poor contrast, unlabeled images, or a lack of alternative text for visually impaired users.

In addition, complex navigation structures or lack of subtitles can make it difficult for the hearing impaired to use online resources. Creating accessible digital content is crucial to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to information and services. 

Sensory overload

Spaces with overwhelming noise or visual stimuli may be inaccessible to people with autism or sensory processing disorders. Business owners could consider offering sensory-conscious opening hours for shopping or, for example, in museums or the like, specialvisiting times. Specially marked quiet zones can offer relief to visitors with sensory processing disorders. 

Service Animal Restrictions

Some public and private spaces still unlawfully restrict access to service animals. These restrictions can take the form of a complete denial of access to an area or service, as well as less serious measures such as charging additional fees for cleaning for people using a service animal. 

Lack of tactile and auditory aids

The lack of tactile or auditory signals, for example at pedestrian crossings, can make it extremely difficult for people with disabilities to get around. The installation of detectable warnings and audible crossing signals can help here. 

Unevenness in the floor and surfaces

Many public spaces, especially outdoors and in older buildings, have uneven surfaces or sudden changes in flooring. Barriers that are often not noticed at all by people who are not affected, but which can be an enormous obstacle. The obstacles can be a major obstacle for wheelchair users or people with mobility problems. 

It's important to recognize that invisible barriers are often subtle and difficult to identify, but can still have serious implications. By becoming aware of these barriers and taking action to overcome them, we create a more inclusive and equitable society where everyone can reach their full potential. 

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