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Accessible Design: The Latest Architecture and News

How African Cities Are Failing People with Disabilities (And What Architects Can Do About It)

09:30 - 27 December, 2017
How African Cities Are Failing People with Disabilities (And What Architects Can Do About It), A paraplegic man, entering the Nigerian House of Representatives, is forced to crawl down the steps. Image <a href='https://twitter.com/SaharaReporters/status/938102600817348609'>via Sahara Reporters on Twitter</a>
A paraplegic man, entering the Nigerian House of Representatives, is forced to crawl down the steps. Image via Sahara Reporters on Twitter

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Africa’s Undeclared War on the Disabled."

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.

A Simple Guide to Using the ADA Standards for Accessible Design Guidelines

08:30 - 6 June, 2017
A Simple Guide to Using the ADA Standards for Accessible Design Guidelines, Clear floor space. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice
Clear floor space. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice

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!

Golf facility standards. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice Accessible route clear width. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice Required door clearances. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice Signage standards. Image Courtesy of United States Department of Justice + 16