Accessibility in Design is Essential
I’m teaching Barrier-Free Design at our local Junior College. This is an advanced class that is required for the certificate in interior design. I teach ADA, California Accessibility Code, and universal design. My students are very accomplished and anxious to graduate and work in their chosen field.
Our first day of class included a campus tour using wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. It was quite an experience for all these able-bodied students to navigate obstacles they had never noticed before. They had to make their way over cracked pathways, curbs with truncated domes that are useful to the sight-impaired but difficult to get through with a wheelchair or walking aids, cross slopes and steep ramps, compliant but hard-to-use restrooms, and groups of rushing students making their way around them. While our campus is mostly code compliant and very accessible, the reality is that being physically disabled presents a lot of challenges and can make life very difficult.
The reports the students wrote were amazingly insightful and compassionate and I found myself so looking forward to the next class because I knew that THEY GOT IT! They are now hungry for the knowledge that they can apply in their design work to the benefit of their clients. They understand that interior designers can greatly improve the quality of life of their clients. They get the meaning of
Good Design Today, Better Living Tomorrow