With its passage in 1990, the American Disabilities Act changed medical building construction for the better. Since then, advocates for accessibility have identified numerous areas for improvement in the relationship between ADA compliance and real-world functionality in existing medical buildings. A recent Census Bureau report noted that more than 56 million individuals with disabilities represented 19 percent of the U.S. population in 2010. The report points out that nearly 1 in 5 people have a disability, and more than half of those are considered to be severely disabled. These figures draw a clear picture of a growing population that will need medical construction company improvements in existing ADA accessibility across all types of medical facilities.
Identifying Existing Problems In Medical Building Construction
Identifying accessibility problems during medical building planning takes more than the perspective of the designers. In fact, it’s crucial not to approach medical facility design from the perceived perspective of the disabled community. Representatives from the disabled community give the most important insight when it comes the tiniest details. For example, ADA ramps in entryways have become a standard for walkers or wheelchairs due to a common perception of the disabled. But designers often overlook the proper carpeting once disabled visitors enter a medical facility. Certain textures and grooves in carpets can make it frustrating to go in a straight line in walkers and wheelchairs. But this may not have been discovered without the perspective of a disabled representative. The direct disabled perspective is key to wide-target accessibility.
Implementing Mutual Value Design
A common misconception of prioritizing accessibility is that it only exists to accommodate the disabled community. There are many construction designs that make life easier for both the disabled and the non-disabled community. This mutual value design is the next level of accessibility design because it brings mutual value to both communities. For example, wide access entryways may seem catered to the disabled, but these designs also allow healthcare staff to move patients and navigate equipment. Similarly, while building structures with good sound acoustics may seem beneficial to keep rooms quiet for overnight patients to sleep they benefit the disabled with auditory sensitivities as well. The key to this type of design is making sure the disabled and non-disabled are consulted in each access and atmosphere design. A wise designer will find the mutual value from these testimonies by scraping the designs that limit either groups’ experiences and prioritizing the designs that would enhance both groups’ experiences.
Better Serving All Individuals
As different medical facilities become more competitive, they must look to upgrade services across the board. An emphasis on universal accessibility reaches out to entire communities. This means designing and building beyond current ADA standards and committing to structural changes in existing facilities. Widened entrances, ramped stairways, improved flooring, and better exterior navigation are just a few of the areas that present opportunities for making a lasting difference. Improving medical facility access for those with disabilities is a proactive approach that enhances the individual experience and adds unique value to a property that’s appreciated by all.