Universal Design Principles in Practice: Beyond Barriers

About Access Living’s New Building

Conference Center
Rooms will be sized to allow convenient circulation for people using wheelchairs.State-of-the-art assistive listening systems will be provided in all meeting and conference rooms. Supplemental lighting will be provided to highlight sign language interpreters.
Elevator
Doors open on both sides to increase access. The elevator has a TTY(telephone typewriter) System to assist the hearing impaired during emergencies. Elevators in the four-story building have two points of exit and entry, duplicate controls and multiple floor signals, making them easy to use and understand.
Access Living
Access Livings New Universally and Green Designed Building
Rescue Areas
Each floor has two enlarged areas of rescue assistance, protected with fire resistive construction for up to one hour and equipped with two-way accessible communication, that are large enough to accommodate six to eight wheelchairs.
Launching the process of designing its new headquarters, Access Living and Chicago-based LCM Architects organized a meeting of the minds with input from the real experts – those who would actually be working in the space daily. The idea-finding session analyzed every aspect of the building with the broadest range of user options in mind.

The brainstorming revolved around seven Universal Design Principles developed in 1997 by the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. Examples of implementation follow each principle.

Equitable Use
The new building welcomes everyone as equals with no special accommodations. It is designed for all to use.
Flexibility in Use: All areas feature adjustable shelves, drawers, counters and cabinets at varying heights so people have options to use what is most comfortable.

Simple and Intuitive
Elevators in the four-story building have two points of exit and entry, duplicate controls and multiple floor signals, making them easy to use and understand.

Perceptible Information
Several levels of drop-off ramps at curbside and the outside sidewalk ease movement, and the well-lit straight path to the building’s entrance is marked with tactile cues, all the way through the automatic doors to the reception desk.

Tolerance for Errors
Rounded corners make for easier maneuvering of wheelchairs, other assistive devices and for easier movement by everyone.

Low Physical Effort
Lighting and restroom fixtures operate by motion sensors that require minimal physical effort. Occupancy sensors automatically turn lights on or off as people enter and exit.

Size and Space for Approach and Use

Ample but not excessive space, from workstations to elevators is designed by carefully considering the most user needs.

In case of an emergency
Each floor has two enlarged areas of rescue assistance, protected with fire resistive construction for up to one hour and equipped with two-way accessible communication, that are large enough to accommodate six to eight wheelchairs. Should the power fail, back-up generators support each elevator and evacuation chairs are installed to enable wheelchair users to be evacuated via the stair if necessary.