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Guest Blogger



11/23/2011

Accessibility v. Universal Design

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"Architecture has been a powerful tool in history from politics to religion, I think it could be a powerful tool in the future for equality."

Archinect.com Forum Member erdawson

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to architecture and the disabled: Universal Design and Accessibility

The first is the most widely accepted: Accessibility. Accessible Architecture has handicap ramps and hydraulic lifts, it makes ways for the disabled occupants to be able to use the building. But it does this by making exceptions for them. While the non-disabled just walk up three stairs into the building, a person in a wheel chair must wheel themselves up a ramp that jets out away from the entrance and then angles back. It gives power to the non-disabled who the building is designed for, and the sad thing is they don't even see the injustice. These exceptions that are required by the ADA can be extremely expensive and they can also be skewed so far that in reality it isn't doing its original purpose of working for the disabled. 

The second school of thought is Universal Design. This is a relatively new way of dealing with this issue. Universal Design says that from the beginning the design of a building should be usable by all people. The way it is designed should not make exceptions but just inherently be able to accommodate all people, and in that way the lines of who is disabled and who is not are blurred and there is more equality. 

To follow the online debate, visit the website: http://archinect.com/forum/thread/28141674/accessibility-v-universal-design

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Related Blog:

The Design of Human-Powered Access Technology

Related Publication:

Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook

Related Event:

G3ict M-Enabling Summit in Washington, D.C.: Registration Open!