The Housing Design Standards for Accessibility and Inclusion equip designers, builders, and developers with guidelines and frameworks for disability-forward housing creation. It highlights cross-disability accessibility and design decisions that are anchored in inclusion. Each month we feature one of our partners and the Element they’re most excited about.
Michelle Eastman / Summer Analyst, The Kelsey
In The Housing Design Standards for Accessibility and Inclusion elements are organized by design category, impact area, and additional benefits. Additional benefits include elements that, along with accessibility, increase beauty, safety, racial equity, sustainability, or affordability in the community. This month’s Element of the Month, from The Kelsey’s amazing Summer Analysts, Michelle Eastman, whose central access needs are mobility and height. Her element, Path Slopes, is an example of a design choice with additional benefits. An alternative to ramps or stairs, her element of choice creates comfort and ease of navigation in maneuvering spaces. Path Slopes don’t only support mobility and vision accessibility but also improve safety for all residents and guests.
Element: Path Slopes (2.6)
Description: Path slopes are an alternative to stairs or ramps which assist with movement and vision safety while including everyone.
Design Category: Site
Impact Area(s): Mobility and Height, Vision
Why is this element important to you, personally or for the project?
For many people with disabilities, it takes double the amount of energy to navigate the different barriers that exist in the built world. Even though I can use stairs if I need to, the path slopes make it possible for me to navigate safely and more comfortably without requiring an exorbitant amount of energy.
How did this accessibility element change (for the better) the overall project (optional)?
Path slopes benefit many people with disabilities, and it also benefits people who are using strollers, riding bikes, and or those who are carrying heavy things. Overall, the accessibility element of path slopes includes and welcomes everyone while being mindful of energy wanes and gains, making it a necessary element for The Kelsey building projects.
What recommendations would you make to someone designing a disability-forward housing project (related to the design standards)?
Disability is the only minority that you can “join” at any point in one’s life. I believe that designing disability-forward housing really benefits everyone disabled or not. Accounting for accessibility and inclusion is not only practical and very necessary, it should become a normal part of all new housing developments.