A friend of mine is an interior designer in Indianapolis, IN. She recently showed me her latest designs for a hotel she is working on and the many creative ways she is seamlessly incorporating ADA requirements into her designs. It was refreshing to see universal design being considered from the beginning. Her designs will allow all guests to experience and interact with the hotel in the same way.
Accessible environments impact more than just the community of people with disabilities. They provide an environment that is equitable whenever possible by avoiding designs that stigmatize users and accommodate a wide range of preferences and abilities. Universally designed environments cover everything from supporting seniors to age in the community of their choice to technology that adapts to the needs of the user. Simply put, universal design offers all people the same opportunity to thrive regardless of the environment.
I often get the question, “What does universal design look like?” If it is done well, you do not even notice it. If the only way to enter a building is by a ramp or flat surface, it no longer looks like an accessible entrance. It simply becomes the entrance. The moment you have to choose between taking the stairs or the ramp it spotlights the inequity of the space.
Imagine a playground where children of all abilities are able to interact and play together. Sadly, not many of these exist. Some playgrounds may have an adaptive swing or a slide but rarely is the entire playground accessible. Fortunately for Delaware County, we have several accessible playgrounds. We are excited to highlight the Every Kids’ Playground at Liberty Park in Powell during our Block Party on August 29. This playground was designed for all children to play together. The name itself is a perfect description of this community asset.
As you enjoy the environment around you, take a look. Is it accessible to everyone? If the answer is no, is there something you could do to help make it more accessible? If you are still not sure what universal design looks like, please consider joining us for our Block Party to see the Every Kids’ Playground in action. It is sure to be filled with smiles and laughter!