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Higher Education Trends: Designing Spaces for Diverse Populations

Higher education has often billed itself as a bastion of diversity and inclusion. One dimension of this spirit is the approach to students with disabilities, and the effort to make college faculty and staff conscious of the experiences of students with a wide array of abilities.

As more and more colleges and universities seek to increase diversity on their campuses, it’s more important than ever that the buildings and facilities of a campus reflect that spirit through accessible design that is intuitive, attractive, and seamless. With older buildings often being retrofitted with lifts and ramps in clunky, unattractive ways, the assistance of design firms is invaluable.

There are many ways to incorporate accessibility into designs. A guiding consideration in accessible design should always be in creating facilities and features that can be easily used without assistance by persons with a variety of disabilities. Such an approach can help to make designs more intuitive for all users. Focusing on intuitive use also increases simplicity, which can lead to beautiful and attractive design. Aesthetics can then be considered as a designer integrates the utility of accessible designs with their appearances.

In addition to fostering a spirit of diversity and inclusion, a major benefit to accessible design is that result of having optimized a space for all users. When buildings are intelligently designed to be made fully accessible, they become safer and more useful for all persons who use them. Accessible design, therefore, benefits an entire campus. Non-slip surfaces, gently sloping ramps, guide rails, conveniently placed fixtures, appropriate height tables, and widened corridors are all examples of designs features that are safer, more convenient, and more comfortable for all users.

Seamlessly incorporating accessible, barrier-free designs into extant facilities is a challenge, but one that reflects the commitment to honoring diverse populations of students and faculty. When designing new campus buildings, a focus on diverse users provides the opportunity to showcase the ability to make design at once both beautiful and useful.

To discuss making your spaces accessible for diverse users, contact us today.