What is accessibility in Architecture?


The amount of impact the built environment has on us is immensely profound. In North America and Europe, Studies have found that we spend 90% of our time indoors. There might be significant deviations from the number, depending upon where you live and what you do, but this generally sums up the amount of interaction you have with buildings and the potential they hold to impact our emotional and physical health. That makes it very important for our building design to make it easier for us to use and navigate around them, thus making them more accessible.


But accessible design should not just be considerate of the average human without disabilities. How often have you been severely injured and unable to access places and do things? While this may be temporary for a bunch of us, a significant portion of the population cannot access particular locations and businesses just because of their design.  Accessible design is the most vital consideration in Architectural design since it makes it possible for people with a wide range of disabilities which could be physical, sensory or cognitive in Nature. The goal is to build places inclusive and welcoming for all people, regardless of their limitations and disabilities. It can include access to education, employment, healthcare, and recreational facilities. Accessible architecture also enables people with disabilities to live independently and with dignity, permitting them to move freely and safely within the built environment.


Why is it important?


The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disabilities. That makes it essential for public and commercial spaces to be designed to accommodate people with different kinds of disabilities. Even apart from the compulsion, there are many ways in which having accessible design can help businesses grow and be successful. 


Why is Accessible Architecture good for business?


1. It can help you avoid lawsuits. 


Having accessibility in your design can help meet legal requirements in several ways. It helps comply with the disability rights law, which requires places to be accessible to people with disabilities. It includes having ramps, elevators & handrails be a part of your design for wheelchair users and having visual and auditory signals for people with sensory impairments. It helps avoid the chances of the owners of the buildings and the businesses landing into lawsuits which can cause a significant amount of distress and financial trouble while also creating a bad image for the brand.


2. It is a great way to enhance your brand image.


People love a brand that provides good products and services but also cares for its customers. Having accessible architecture as a part of your design shows your brand's commitment to inclusivity. It welcomes customers to visit your place and employees to be a part of your brand regardless of their abilities. It also helps retain customers who value inclusivity and diversity. People with disabilities, their friends and their families are much more likely to return to a business which is accessible and welcoming. Having accessible architecture thus becomes pivotal in improving customer loyalty and increasing repeat business. 


If your business is committed to accessibility, this presents the image of it being socially responsible and forward-thinking. It can help your Business enhance its reputation and attract positive attention from social media. A Business which exhibits an understanding of inclusivity and accessibility also attracts top talents to work with them. It helps attract and retain good employees. Thus, accessible architecture becomes essential in building a dependable brand image, which in turn helps in attracting and retaining customers. It can be especially vital for businesses that rely on customer loyalty, such as restaurants, cafes, and retail stores.


3. It helps a business be more efficient.


An accessible space or building can require lesser staff to assist people with disabilities as it would allow them to navigate spaces freely, thus also making them feel more independent. It can help the employees save time and focus on other things. Accessible design features such as clear signages, well-lit corridors and wayfinding tools can help people with different kinds of disabilities access the building with ease and comfort, saving them time and energy. Having these features not only helps people with disabilities but also makes the place much more user-friendly for people without disabilities as well - such as people with heavy luggage and strollers. It helps improve efficiency in accessing spaces for all users. 


4. It helps save money 


There are several ways in which designing accessible architecture can help a business save money. Designing structures with accessibility as a part of the initial project consideration helps avoid the need for costly retrofits and renovations and renovation in the future. It thus helps save money and also avoids disruption caused due to construction work. Since lesser staff is required to help disabled people access and navigate a building or a space, it also helps save labour costs while also increasing efficiency. It also helps avoid your customers feeling helpless. Accessible design features such as self-opening doors and sensors also help with energy efficiency while allowing people to access places more easily. And if the building design considers the legal requirements, that saves the businesses an ample amount of money by avoiding potential legal action and thus the associated costs. 


We at Graniti Vicentia are committed to making the world a more inclusive place through our work while helping businesses grow through their architectural design infrastructure. Contact us to know more.