Yesterday on the Danforth I saw a toddler with mini ponytails sprouting out of her head. She looked like she'd just learned to walk. She stopped in front of one of the StopGap ramps that dot the Toronto street, allowing those in wheelchairs or strollers to get up over the single-step storefronts (See our story on Luke Anderson, the man behind the StopGamp ramps).
She toddled up the apple-red ramp, got to the top, produced an enormous smile, then toddled down. Then she did it again. And again. And again. Her mother was several feet up the street, unlocking a bicycle. Every time the girl got to the top of the ramp, her tiny figure disappeared out of her mother's sight line. Just for a moment. Then reappeared.
For the next 10 minutes, this little miss continued to take small steps up the ramp, turn around, smile at her physical mastery, then come back down. People on the street began to stop to watch her.
While she probably wouldn't have tried the single step up to the door independently, the red ramp with the most gradual of inclines gave her confidence. It was the perfect example of universal design.