Mon 14 Aug, 2006 05:37 pm
Link for Design Class with wheelchairs
This is cool, but I'll admit I'm biased, the teacher is a pal of mine. I just ran across the article in my daily update from ArchNewsNow.com. Seems like a very smart idea to have designers experience access difficulties.
August 12, 2006
Landscape Class Cultivates Access
A UCLA Extension course puts able-bodied students in wheelchairs to teach them how to design for everyone.(end of quote)
I like the point O'Brien and Lassen make about integrating access into the whole design, not as a side shunt. I can see that this could have implications for selection of floor level when a new building is designed as well.
Way back when I was in interior design school, each of the graduating class had to spend a day in a wheelchair. It was exhausting. (And we all cheated, I'm sure, when we had to go to the bathroom. I know that I did, after the first try.) Since then, I have never begrudged the accessibility rules. Both Canada and the USA have very similar ones ~ ours are part of the building codes, while the American ones are codified in the ADA.
Recently a friend of mine, who is a polio victim, broke her hip and had to spend 6 weeks in a wheelchair. We met at her downtown office to go to lunch at the hotel across the street one day. Arrgh! Door activators that were on the far side of a row of doors, which meant she had to press it and then race to get to the open door. Ramps that were too steep, or had hairpin turns, or incoveniently placed. Uneven pavers. Sidewalk ramps, or dips or whatever they're called, that were cracked (danger of getting wheel stuck and then tipping) or had just enough of a lip on them that she couldn't get over them. This meant that the first time she tried, and failed, she was sitting motionless in the traffic lane when the light turned green for the cars. The raised pattern on certain grates. People who cut in front of her, or sometimes accidentally dropped things on her head if she was in a crowd waiting for the light to change. All of these dangers, frustrations and humiliations happened in the 100 metres from her 6th floor office to the restaurant across the street.
She was very, very happy when she could give up the chair and go back to her canes. We the ambulatory don't know how good we have it.
How true, how true.
I remember once I sprained my ankle. As it got better I went for walks. I remember the difficulty of pressing the button at a signal to make it change to Walk, and then getting back to the crosswalk with any time left on the quick timed signal... and I wasn't hurt all that severely. Your description of the travails of getting out of the building and across the street and into the restaurant is an eye-opener.