Abstract

Understandings of accessibility have evolved from focusing on wheelchair accessibility to more integrated notions like inclusive design, according to which everybody should be able to use space in an equitable and independent way. In addition, architectural practice witnessed the arrival of new professional actors in project design and delivery, including accessibility advisors. Given these evolutions, the study presented here examines how accessibility is understood and thought of in architectural practice today, what motivates architects to collaborate with accessibility advisors, and what they expect from this collaboration. Interviews with professional architects and accessibility advisors suggest that, in today’s architectural design practice, interpretations of accessibility stretch from strictly following accessibility legislation to a broader interest (displayed by architects) or more integrated forms of advice (offered by advisors). The wish to attend to the diversity of people’s abilities and conditions exists, but is not fulfilled by legislation, and the norms and procedures it imposes. The presence of professional accessibility advice holds potential to reconcile both, provided that a synergy with legal procedures is found and that advisors’ roles can be developed from checking whether design proposals meet accessibility legislation to informing architects about diverse situations of use and offering them best practice examples.

Keywords:

Accessibility; architecture; design practice; diversity; inclusive design; legislation

Share

COinS
 
Jun 16th, 12:00 AM

Reality Check: Notions of Accessibility in Today’s Architectural Design Practice

Understandings of accessibility have evolved from focusing on wheelchair accessibility to more integrated notions like inclusive design, according to which everybody should be able to use space in an equitable and independent way. In addition, architectural practice witnessed the arrival of new professional actors in project design and delivery, including accessibility advisors. Given these evolutions, the study presented here examines how accessibility is understood and thought of in architectural practice today, what motivates architects to collaborate with accessibility advisors, and what they expect from this collaboration. Interviews with professional architects and accessibility advisors suggest that, in today’s architectural design practice, interpretations of accessibility stretch from strictly following accessibility legislation to a broader interest (displayed by architects) or more integrated forms of advice (offered by advisors). The wish to attend to the diversity of people’s abilities and conditions exists, but is not fulfilled by legislation, and the norms and procedures it imposes. The presence of professional accessibility advice holds potential to reconcile both, provided that a synergy with legal procedures is found and that advisors’ roles can be developed from checking whether design proposals meet accessibility legislation to informing architects about diverse situations of use and offering them best practice examples.

 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.