While designing spaces, architects often consider potential users of the building. The users of the spaces should also include people with disabilities. The aim of the building should not only be user friendly to a specific group of people but to all the groups of people.
In short, the design must be inclusive, accessible, informative, and flexible for every user.
While designing one should consider disabilities such as visual impairment which includes reduced or limited eyesight, color blindness, and blindness. Other disabilities one must consider while designing are mobility, auditory and cognitive disabilities which are physical impairments, distortion of auditory abilities, and disabilities like seizure, dyslexia, and sensitivity to light respectively.
To create a space accessible by every person solutions, need to take into account affordability, technology availability, knowledge, cultural differences, and the level of development.
The above-mentioned points need to be considered as the inaccessible infrastructure is created due to inadequate knowledge, inadequate understanding, lack of user input, missed opportunities such as tactile floor indicators to enhance visual impact as well as improve access for persons with visual impairment.
Universal design for inclusion of all classes and all people can be created by incorporating the following in the design:-
Functions like lifts, toilets, parking spaces, should be added. Accessible signages, evacuation plans should be provided in the building. Parking spaces should also be made accessible to the handicapped. The parking spaces and drop-off points are kept clear for people with disabilities.
The surface and lighting around the building and on the paths that customers use to get to the building. A minimum of one entrance should be made accessible for people with disabilities.
2. Services of the building.
Services like ramps, staircase, lift, corridors should be designed in order to make the building more accessible for the disabled.
In a public building, the slope of the ramps should have a slope of 1:20. The steps should be avoided numerous times on the floor. A ramp or a platform lift should be provided according to the number of staircases provided. Lifts should be provided in a building with more than one floor.
Circulation of a building should not be obstructed by deliveries, machinery, etc. Doors should be kept open wherever possible. Doors that are closed should be easy for a customer to open. The width of the door should be kept such that it is wide enough for all customers.
3. Signages in the building
Signages in a public building should be mandatory so as to give a direction to the customers. The signages that are there in the building should be designed according to the prescribed guidelines by the authorities, have a braille system or raised lettering whenever possible, have a writing that is large enough for the users to read, use appropriate symbols.
4. Reception areas and waiting rooms.
Public service reception areas and waiting rooms should be designed. The seating area should be provided accordingly. A mixture of types and sizes of seats should be taken care of. A proper arm-rest should be provided which is comfortable in nature.
5. Intercom, queuing systems, ticket offices, and information desks.
The location, language of intercoms, queuing systems, ticket offices, or information desks should be provided after considering the factors like.
- When customers are not able to read the visual information.
- Hear audio information or intercoms
- Reach tickets or intercoms that are very high or low to reach
- Understand the language.
Public toilets for people with disabilities should be provided. Providing an alarm system in the accessible toilets should be done and regular maintenance should be done. The toilets should not be used for storing cleaning equipment, deliveries, etc.
Sanitary bins in the accessible toilets should be provided and should not obstruct the wheelchair users.
The lighting in the public building should be distributed evenly. The large variation in lighting levels should be avoided and should not be too bright or too dark. Glossy, shiny, and polished surface finishes should be avoided. Reflections, shadows, and glare should be kept minimum.
8. Visual Contrast.
Differences in color and color intensity should be used to create visual contrast. This method will help people with visual impairment to:-
- Distinguish between walls and floors.
- Distinguish between door backgrounds and fittings.
- Avoid hazards
- Find their way around the building
Space which is disabled friendly should provide flooring which is as follows:-
- Hardwood flooring is useful in allowing ease of passage which should be considered for people using wheelchairs.
- Vinyl flooring is highly affordable and is slip-resistant. This feature allows for easy usage for people with disabilities.
10. Accessible countertops
Apart from the above factors mentioned, countertops should be placed at a comfortable height for the disabled. Appliances should be provided at a height where the people using the wheelchair can access the same.
In all, to create a space user-friendly, space should be flexible enough to be used by all kinds of people. Space should be comfortable and accessible to use by the ultimate user.