How The Americans With Disabilities Act Affects Interior Design
October 15, 2013
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Style, colors, lighting and organization are all things that interior designers consider when working on a project. But beyond aesthetics, interior designers think carefully about functionality. And that includes accessibility.
Besides studying building codes to ensure a design’s health and safety, interior design professionals become familiar with the design guidelines set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The act’s design standards ensure that public and commercial buildings meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Learn more about the ADA in design and how interior design professionals can create spaces that are both aesthetic and accessible.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was put into effect in 1990 to prevent discrimination toward those with disabilities. This includes not only building accessibility but also equal opportunity to find jobs, use transportation, and use government services.
After that, existing buildings were modified to include features such as wheelchair-accessible ramps, lifts or elevators. All new buildings since 1990 have been designed to meet ADA requirements.
The regulations for the ADA were last updated in 2010, and professionals who are involved in the design and construction of buildings can access the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design online.
How the ADA Affects Interior Design
How ADA design guidelines affect design professionals depends on the type of design they do. Interior designers who help to design and decorate homes, for example, don’t have to follow the guidelines because the buildings are private.
If designers have clients with disabilities, they have to take their clients’ specific needs into consideration. For example, a designer might have to design plans for ramps in a new home or decide how to modify the bathroom of an existing home to make it accessible. Those who design commercial or government buildings work more consistently with ADA guidelines.
The movement to make buildings accessible has evolved into the concept of universal design. This is the idea that spaces should be designed to fit everyone, young or old, able or disabled. Some recommended features include non-slip floors, rocker light switches, and no-step entry.
The ADA ultimately improves life for everyone, and accessibility is a concept that interior designers will continue to explore and innovate.