Contrary to what we might believe, hearing loss is not always congenital, but could sooner or later happen to any of us. According to the WHO, almost a third of people over 65 suffer from debilitating hearing loss. Yet from a certain perspective, hearing loss could be considered more of a 'difference' than a 'disability'. Although the spatial demands of people with hearing disabilities are not as noticeable as spaces for the blind or for those who experience reduced mobility, the reduction of hearing capacity does entail a particular way of experiencing the environment. Is it possible to enhance this experience through interior design?
Accessibility: The Latest Architecture and News
With a very bold and pioneering move, the UK for the first time is prioritizing cyclists and pedestrians. The city is making pressures on skyscrapers by issuing new rules on the design of the high-rises in order to prevent the creation of wind tunnels.
When famed architect Michael Graves contracted a mysterious virus in 2003, a new chapter in his life began. Paralyzed from the chest down, the pioneer of Postmodernism would be permanently required to use a wheelchair. Graves could have been forgiven for believing that having fought for his life, having been treated in eight hospitals and four rehab clinics, and needing permanent use of a wheelchair, that his most influential days as an architect were behind him. This was not the case. To the contrary, he would use this new circumstance to design trend-setting hospitals, rehab centers, and other typologies right up to his death in 2015, all with a new-found awareness of the everyday realities of those in wheelchairs, and what architects were, and were not doing, to aid their quality of life.
In architectural spheres, “accessibility” is often directed at the end-user, and the imperative act of designing spaces, buildings, and entire cities along the principles of “universal design.” An increasingly central aspect of architecture, spurred by legislation such as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ethos of accessible architecture was well captured by architect Ronald Mace, quoted in a 1997 New York Times editorial asking “if we’re not designing for human beings, who are we designing for? Let’s design all things, all the time, for everyone. It’s where we’re headed.”
Universal accessibility in architecture refers to the capacity that all people have to access and inhabit a space regardless of their cognitive and physical capacities, and it is a subject that cannot be dismissed. Although little modifications can make a difference, it is ideal for the spaces to be thought out according to universal design guidelines from the beginning.
In the case of the kitchens, a series of new technologies that increase the comfort and efficiency of our daily spaces have made an appearance. Thus, multiplying its functions and allowing better use of the available surface. Let's take a look at the latest innovations presented by Häfele.
Architects' general ignorance about the needs and requirements for people with special needs is worrisome. Beyond complying with mandatory regulations (different in each country), the quality of life for different-abled people depends on specific and daily factors that go beyond a railing or a ramp, and are often left in the hands of professionals who have never dealt with such issues.
This Ables, a project developed by IKEA and the non-profit organizations Milbat and Access Israel, provides an excellent resource for how to create an equitable design in the smallest and simplest of details. From door handles that are can be opened with a forearm to a couch lift that enables users to sit down and get up easily, these 13 products are available to the general public on ThisAbles.com. Some products can even be 3D-printed independently.
See the video below for more details of the project.
This article was originally published on Common Edge as " Why Architects Still Struggle With Disability Requirements 28 Years After Passage of the ADA".
The recent death of President George H.W. Bush occasioned assessments of his administration’s legislative achievements, one of which was the far-ranging Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights act signed into law in 1990. The law included accommodations for people with disabilities in buildings. In the ensuing decades the ADA has had a significant impact on the design and construction of the built environment in the U.S. To gauge the impact of ADA, how it has evolved, common misconceptions about ADA, and its role in promoting social equity in architecture, I spoke with Peter Stratton, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Accessibility Services at Steven Winter Associates, who works with architects and others in the construction industry on the application of the ADA design standards. (I worked at the Connecticut-based Winter firm between 1996 and 2006; Stratton was a colleague.)
As the profession becomes more aware of the variety of users who will use their architectural creations it is necessary to consider certain basic rules. In the end, the idea is that a building or space can be used comfortably, effectively and (if necessary) quickly by all users. Today the use of BIM technology encourages the incorporation of pre-modeled products in projects, which facilitates the processes. However, if pre-modeled products are not inclusively designed, there is an increased possibility of overlooking these accessible considerations–especially when their architects have no experience or are unaware of accessible design guidelines.
Bradley Corporation USA, a manufacturer of plumbing fixtures and bathroom accessories, has developed standard models of bathrooms for people with disabilities, delivering the basic requirements that must be incorporated according to the guidelines specified by organizations such as the ADA and the ANSI. Below we present an example of an accessible bathroom for a single person, incorporating, among other things, a touchless handwashing sink (all-in-one: soap, water, and hand dryer) and a series of safety bars. Before including it in your project, don't forget to check the local regulations of your country/region.
Last year we shared a guide to the United States' ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Given the article's success and the diversity of our audience, we're making available a collection of guideline documents from Latin America and Spain. Whether you're working on projects in these countries or you're looking to broaden your knowledge of universal design, these guides should come in handy.
These documents—published as PDFs—have been made available by institutions and organizations and refer to the requirements and laws of the indicated countries.
Recently I spent part of a week in the company of a multidisciplinary group of academics and researchers from Europe, the US, and Africa, at a workshop entitled “The Practice and Politics of DIY Urbanism in Africa.” Jonathan Makuwira, a professor from the Malawi University of Technology, delivered a compelling paper on “Disability and Urbanism in Malawi,” highlighting the many challenges of the continent’s disabled population, using that city as a case study.
The lecture reaffirmed my sentiments on the gross inadequacies of urban public spaces for the disabled. It’s an issue that formed the basis for my 2016 entry for the Richard Rogers Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), where I had proposed to use the fellowship to develop a prescriptive accessible design blueprint for public spaces in the city of Abuja.
Only a special few architects can truly say they enjoy reading building codes. There’s no doubt that it’s daunting and it can certainly pose challenges to your design. Over time you’ll likely become familiar with the types of things you need to look out for on a project, but even the most experienced architects may still need to double-check a code question or two during the design process (or have an intern check it for them.) Unfortunately, many code documents are unwieldy to say the least, and there are few cases in which this is more true than the 279-page ADA Standards for Accessible Design. However, once you understand the layout and how to use a code book or the ADA guidelines, they become more manageable.
This guide aims to describe each chapter in the ADA 2010 guidelines to give a foundation for navigating them. Luckily for designers in United States, the documentation for the ADA Standards for Accessible Design is available online. Keep reading for a quick summary (all information and diagrams are directly from the guidelines). Check out the whole document here if you need it—or for convenience, each subheading in this article links directly to the relevant section in the PDF!
The geometric design from Lab for Planning and Architecture for the Municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain is a morphological response that conditions Julio Navarro's and Roque Díaz's swimming pools allowing adequate movement of people with reduced mobility.
The project is a path of stairs and ramps with a triangular design that integrates with the surrounding landscape; the materiality and the constructive details are adapted to the different needs and natural conditions of the land.
Hard-Fought Fights for Civil Rights: Accessibility Expert Carl Lewis on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, had sweeping consequences for all persons with disabilities as well as all those in the building and construction industries, especially architects. In 2015, its 25th anniversary was commemorated with special events in cities and states across the USA.
Yet despite the ADA’s widespread impact on the built environment, few schools of architecture have full-time design studio faculty with disabilities to teach their students about accessibility first-hand. I am most fortunate to teach at one of those schools and to have had Carl Lewis as a longtime colleague at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We have known each other ever since he first enrolled in my graduate seminar, and our friendship spans well over a quarter century, just like the ADA.
The milestone anniversary of the ADA, my ongoing research on diversity, personal experiences with family members with disabilities, and numerous occasions reviewing students’ design studio projects alongside Carl prompted me to interview him and to share his expertise with ArchDaily readers.
The majority of our built environment is designed for people who hear, with little regard for how the hearing-impaired navigate a space. But what would a space look like if it were designed for the deaf? This video from Vox and Curbed focuses on Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts institution for the deaf, and the ways the campus is tailored to the needs of its students. By analyzing what they refer to as “Deaf Space,” the university has been able to pinpoint techniques that not only make communication and wayfinding simpler for the deaf, but to produce spaces that function more effectively and comfortably for everyone. For more on the university and how its members are impacting the architecture world, read the full article over at Curbed here.