Litvak and Enders (2001), provide an excellent example of how the physical environment changes to become “friendly” in a physical sense. This is the same kind of change that the social environment needs to undergo in order to also become, truly friendly, in a social sense. Social ramps change a social community, hopefully making it more friendly. “The more friendliness that can be built into the environment, the fewer specialized supports the person will need…”
“Environmental demands require different sets of support elements. There is a strong correlation between the friendliness of both the micro and macro of the environment and the need for specialized support systems elements. The more hostile the environment becomes, the more individualized supports will be needed to venture out into it successfully…The more ‘friendliness’ that can be built into the environment, the fewer specialized supports the person will need to carry along. While elevators are not likely to be installed on Everest, curb cuts on city streets and accessible buses reduce the ‘hostility’ of the environment. Continuing to see the problem as being in the individual (the medical model), as opposed to seeing the environment or society as being disabling (the interactive or environmental model), leads to design priorities for building stair-climbing wheelchairs rather than building ramps and curb cuts.”
From Litvak, S. & Enders, A. (2001). Support systems: The interface between individuals and environments (pp.711-733). In G. Albrecht, K. Seelman & M. Bury (eds.) Handbook of Disability Studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.