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Jack Nasar & 
Jennifer Evans-Cowley 





^• ! 




From Accessability 




John Glenn School of Public Affl 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries 

First published 2007 
Columbus, Ohio 

Printed in the United States of America 

Nasar, J. L. and Evans-Cowley, J 

Universal design and visitability: from accessibility to zoning / 

Edited by Jack L Nasar and Jennifer Evans-Cowley 

p. cm 

Includes bibliographic references and index. 
ISBN 978-1-4276-1895-5 (paper) 
1. Accessibility. 2. Architecture. 3. City Planning. 

4. Universal design. 5. Visitability. I. Nasar, Jack, L. 1947- 

II. Evans-Cowley, J. 1974 III. Title. 



Jack L. Nasar and Jennifer Evans-Cowley 


Deborah Kendrick 

Integrating the Seven Principles of Universal 
Design into Planning Practice 

Wolfgang F, E. Preiser 
Toward Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood 
Design: A Look at Visitability 

Jordana L. Maisel 
Universal Design, Architecture and Spatial 
Cognition without Sight 

Shohreh Rashtian 
Universal Design in Public Transportation: 
"Segway" to the Future 

Katharine Hunter-Zaworski 
As Your County Gets Older. . .Planning for Senior 
Housing Needs in Howard County, Maryland 

Stephen Lafferty 
Making universal design work in zoning and 
regional planning: A Scandinavian approach 

Olav Rand Bringa 
Research and Teaching Of Accessibility and 
Universal Design In Brazil: Hindrances and 
Challenges In a Developing Country 

Cristiane Rose Duarte and Regina Cohen 
Universal Design Guidelines to Accommodate 
Wheelchair Occupants in the Thai Context 

Antika Sawadsri 
Universal Design in the Institutional Setting: 
Weaving a Philosophy into Campus Planning 

L. Scott Lissner 



On June 13, 1998, Rosemarie Rossetti went for a bike ride 
that changed her life. An 80 foot tree fell on her, leaving her 
paralyzed from the waist down, unable to walk or get around 
her home. Many people have reduced abilities through birth, 
accident, or regular activities, such as carrying bags of grocer- 
ies and trying to unlock a door in the dark. 

In our routine movement through our communities, we 
may overlook the need for barrier-free design, until we experi- 
ence an injury, or have to negotiate an environment with a 
stroller, or with someone who uses a wheel-chair or has vision 
loss. Then, the simple act of entering a building and getting to 
the desired destination often becomes an unpleasant chore. Yet 
millions of people experience barriers to movement every day. 

The growing aging population in the United States and 
elsewhere have elevated the awareness of the need for homes 
and communities that accommodate various abilities. We need 
houses, neighborhoods, and whole communities designed to 
work for all abilities and across the lifespan. This means bet- 
ter planning of the arrangement of uses, streets, paths, public 
spaces, and transportation systems. 

Barriers to fully accessible environments result from ac- 
tions by many entities both public and private. Through regu- 
lations, and individual design decisions, humans shape their 
communities to be more or less accessible. Existing regulations 
do not accommodate all users, and sometimes, rather than fa- 
cilitating comfortable movement, create obstacles. 

In recognition of the importance of public awareness, the 
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) invited proposals for 
its annual Universal Design Leadership Initiative, calling for: "a 
project that will create greater public awareness of and demand 
for universal designed environments, by educating designers, 
consumers, educators, developers, city planners, and others . 


. . [and involved] collaboration with the targeted audiences, 
using innovative strategies in order to meet the broad social 
need, while bringing universal design into the mainstream." 

Universal design implies a process that goes beyond mini- 
mum access codes and standards, to design environments that 
are comfortably usable by people from childhood into their 
oldest years. Integrating the core principles of universal de- 
sign — equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and intuitive, 
perceptible information, tolerance for error, low physical ef- 
forts, and size and shape for approach and use — can improve 
livability and quality of life for everyone. 

The three of us (Jennifer Evans- Cowley, Jack L. Nasar, 
and Scott Lissner) recognized the importance of this project. 
We believed we could make a positive impact on the design 
community in providing outreach and education. We shared 
a commitment to building knowledge for decisions about the 
design, planning, and management of our surroundings; and 
we strongly believed in the value of bringing knowledge about 
design research (such as that on Universal Design) to planners 
who propose the policies that shapes urban form. 

Among many other things, our grant proposal to the NEA 
included an international conference on universal design and 
visitability, and an edited book derived from that conference. 
In December, 2005, the NEA informed us that our proposal 
had been selected for the Endowment's 2005 Universal Design 
Leadership Initiative. We assembled an international list of 
speakers, and invited seven as keynote speakers. With the first 
acceptances in hand, we broadened the scope of the conference 
to include peer reviewed presentations of papers and projects, 
and we developed a series of awards for the best student pa- 
pers and projects. We received more than 40 proposals from 
around the world. Further, Steven Jacobs, President of IDEAL 
Group, Inc., offered to put the full conference on-line for ac- 
tive distance participation. Two hundred people (125 on-site, 
and 75 on-line) from as far away as Finland and Japan took 
part in the conference. 

The book introduces the concepts of universal design and 
visitability. It presents: 

• a paradigm for the future 

• rationale for studying it 

• design examples 

Preface Xli 

• a discussion of design for individuals with vision loss, 

• planning barrier free transportation facilities 

• successful county-wide and national policy initiatives 

• the importance of education, and 

• considerations of certain cultural barriers to adoption of 

We hope it advances your interest and understanding of 
this exciting and ever-widening movement. Further, we hope 
that it provides the information needed to teach the concept 
of universal design, and to plan, design, and draft policy for 
making spaces comfortably accessible to everyone. Many 
groups have an interest in the creation of barrier-free environ- 
ments: citizens, planners, members of chambers of commerce, 
students and professionals in the fields of environmental de- 
sign and planning. We also hope that the information pro- 
vided here can help such groups think beyond basic access to 
make our communities more inclusive and thus agreeable for 
the broader public (all residents and visitors). 


The conference and this book would not have materialized 
without the support of the National Endowment for the Arts 
Universal Design Leadership Initiative, and the partnership 
that supported and planned the Universal Design and Visit- 
ability Conference: The Ohio State University, the Glenn 
School of Public Affairs, the Kirwin Institute for the Study 
of Race and Ethnicity, the Knowlton School of Architecture, 
and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator's 
Office. We thank all of them. 

We are grateful to Scott Lissner for his assistance in orga- 
nizing and publicizing the Universal Design and Visitability 
Conference (July 13-14, 2006 in Columbus, Ohio), to Wolf 
Preiser (co-editor of The Universal Design Handbook) and 
Dick Duncan (Senior Project Manager, The Center for Uni- 
versal Design at North Carolina State University), for their 
advise on keynote speakers, and to the contributing authors to 
this book. 

Many students helped in convening the conference: Corrin 
Hoegen, Andrea Cooper, Art Curley, Brandy Dunlap, Meghan 
Gough, Matt Lantow, Heide Martin, Goldie Ludovici, Laura 
Slocum, Anne Warjone, Brent Warren, and Shan Wu — helped 


us run the conference; and we thank them all. 

We thank Corrin Hoegen for designing the cover and lay- 
ing out the book. 

Lastly, we thank the more than 200 faculty, students and 
professionals and others who took part in the conference. We 
created this book for you and others who support the goals of 
making our world more accessible for everyone. 

Jack L. Nasar 
Jennifer Evans- Cowley 
The Ohio State University 
January 31, 2006 




There was a time not so very long ago when the concepts pre- 
sented in this book would have seemed futuristic or, at best, 
quaint but impractical. Our understanding of universal design 
and its younger sibling, visitability, have come a long way in 
a fairly short time, though, and there's hope that we will start 
more rapidly learning to recognize some significant patterns. 

The single most important of these "patterns" is the dem- 
onstrated truth that if a thing is good for what seems to be a 
small subset of the population, it will usually be better for and 
embraced by all. 

Here's one simple example. You go on a short business 
trip. For the 100-mile drive, you pop a recording of a new sus- 
pense novel or management tome into the car's CD player. At 
the hotel, you instinctively wheel your luggage up and down 
the curb cutouts and ramps. In your hotel room, an important 
phone call comes while you're watching an interesting docu- 
mentary, so you press the mute and closed-caption buttons on 
the remote and have a quiet conversation while monitoring 
your program in the background. 

Each of these conveniences — the audio book, the ramp, 
curb cutout, the closed-caption text appearing on the TV 
screen — was initially invented to assist people with disabilities. 
And every one of them has become a commonplace amenity 
enjoyed daily by the general population. 

With predictions that we will see 40 million Americans 
over the age of 65 by the year 2010 and 70 million by 2030, the 
need to ensure that public facilities and private homes alike are 
designed and built to be usable throughout the lifespan is more 
pressing than ever. We need communities in which crossing a 
street is not a death-defying adventure and where transporta- 
tion is readily accessible to everyone. We need multi-family 
and single-family homes where anyone — whether on foot or 


with a walker, scooter, or wheelchair — may enter, navigate, 
and live independently. 

As we catch on to the news, as a society, that universal 
design and visitability are concepts that must be implement- 
ed coast to coast, in communities rural and urban, large and 
small, the next step is figuring out how to accomplish this 

That's where this book comes in. Jack L. Nasar, Jennifer 
Evans- Cowley, and Scott Lissner hosted an international con- 
ference on universal design in July 2006 at The Ohio State 
University. Recognizing that the concepts presented at the 
conference warranted wider distribution, they have culled the 
proceedings, revised and edited the best, and gathered them 
into this single publication. 

You will find guiding principles, valuable statistics, and 
examples of the concepts of universal design and visitability 
at work in this book. Whether you happen to be a seasoned 
planner, designer, or policy maker or a student or advocate 
wanting to learn more, you will find new and useful informa- 
tion in these pages. Best of all, you may well absorb, as I did, 
the pervasive wisdom held by a growing number of leaders in 
this field that, far beyond the dry notions of legalities and re- 
quirements, universal design and visitability, when implement- 
ed properly, are principles that just plain make good sense, 
financially and morally, for all of us. 

Deborah Kendrick 
Cincinnati, OH 
December 4, 2006 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design 

Integrating the Seven Principles 
of Universal Design into Planning 

Wolfgang F. E. Preiser 


Universal design is about the power of lifting the human spirit 
beyond the minimum requirements legislated by the Americans 
with Disabilities Act. To ascertain the viability of the Seven 
Principles of Universal Design (Preiser and Ostroff, 2001), this 
chapter develops objective and explicit performance criteria 
that can be aligned with the traditional three levels of priori- 
ties: 1. Health, safety, security; 2. Function, efficiency, work 
processes; and 3. Social, psychological, cultural performance 
(Preiser, 2003). These can be related to control mechanisms 
common in planning, such as building codes, zoning regula- 
tions, design review, tax incentives, and guidance, which have 
emanated from environment/behavior research over the past 
35 years. Due to the paucity of systematic universal design 
evaluation research (Preiser, 2001), the author discusses case 
study examples at the planning and urban scale. The underly- 
ing theoretical framework is based on feedback and aiming 
at continuous quality improvements, in the expectation that 
universally designed environments will facilitate their use by a 
vast majority of people. The chapter makes recommendations 
for future explorations into the application of universal design 
at the urban scale, and to the field of planning in general. 


Universal design has the power to lift the human spirit, espe- 
cially when environments are designed to truly meet the needs 
of people who use them. Universal design ranges from inclu- 
sive and non-discriminatory design of products, cars, architec- 
ture, and urban environments and infrastructure, all the way 
to information technology/telecommunications. 

At the scale of very large facilities, such as airports and 
university campuses, significant changes occurred after the 
implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 
1991. The results were usually adaptations and quick fixes to 


make existing facilities accessible to (almost) all. The image 
that conjures up the antithesis of universal design is the former 
TWA Terminal at JFK Airport in New York, designed by the 
famous architect Eero Saarinen. Eventually, they had to cover 
the elegant stairs with ramps because everyone using the air- 
port had to be accommodated. Not just people who use wheel- 
chairs, but all sorts of other people with wheeled conveyances 
used the ramps: airline pilots with wheeled suitcases, families 
with strollers, and workers pushing hand trucks on the way 
to servicing vending machines. Post-facto modifications like 
these ramps compromise the idea of universal design because 
one should incorporate an inclusive way of thinking and in- 
tegrative design concepts into projects from the very begin- 
ning. The Master Plan for JFK provides for adaptive re-use: the 
TWA terminal is to be transformed into a conference center. 

At the planning and urban scale, the present fight against 
sprawl (Bruegmann, 2005) and "the war against suburbia" 
(Kotkin, 2006) seem to ignore the preferences of most Ameri- 
cans. Kotkin observes: "Across a broad spectrum of planning 
schools and practitioners, suburbs and single family neighbor- 
hoods are linked to everything from obesity, rampant con- 
sumerism, environmental degradation, the current energy 
crisis — and even the predominance of conservative political 
tendencies." Departing from the traditional subdivision pat- 
terns that lack sidewalks and amenities and services that can 
be reached without getting into the car, new concepts are 
emerging that integrate mixed-use commercial development 
with residential housing. These so-called life-style communi- 
ties have distinct universal design attributes: they permit ev- 
erybody, including older adults and persons with disabilities, 
to frequent the neighborhood center on their own without 
having to overcome great distances requiring transportation. 
There are historic precedents for this movement, albeit more 
all-encompassing new town concepts dating back to the 1960s 
like the pedestrian- and bicycle-oriented town of Tapiola just 
outside Helsinki, Finland. 

At the national scale of planning, Norway appears to have 
progressed the most in the world when it comes to the im- 
plementation of the concept of universal design throughout 
the entire country, all the way down to the community level 
(Bringa, 2001). This includes planning and design school cur- 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design 


ricula, which must embrace universal design. It indicates that 
Norway is taking the long-term perspective as far as the well 
being of its citizens is concerned. There is also great concern 
for the environment, green building, energy conservation (they 
have one of the world's highest gasoline prices, despite being 
a major oil producing country), and saving for the future in 

At the global level, a revolution in information technology, 
and telecommunications infrastructure in particular, has been 
occurring in the recent past. This is due to the most ubiqui- 
tous and perhaps most universally designed gadget, the mobile 
phone. Mobile phones have the promise of bridging the real 
digital divide between rich and poor countries (The Econo- 
mist, 2005): "Mobile phones are, in short, a classic example of 
technology that helps people help themselves." To that effect, a 
company plans to mass produce a $100 cell phone for markets 
in the developing world and, it is hoped, for the economically 
disadvantaged in the U.S. as well. 

Overcoming the real digital divide is one of the great bene- 
fits of cell phones already mentioned above. Think of the enor- 
mous cost of infrastructure investments if one had to build 
land phone lines in a continent such as Africa, or any poor 
country, for that matter. Instead, people in these countries are 
using cell phones, a realistic way for poor people to make pro- 
gress, to connect with the world, and to generate income. Cre- 
ating a policy of pooling limited resources will allow informal 
groups to form and share access to the resources the cell phone 
can reach. 

Similarly, in the United States cell phones are enabling so- 
cio-economically weaker segments of the population to com- 
municate, access services, and relocate jobs and housing (much 
more frequently than the average citizen) at a cost that has 
become much lower than the traditional land line hookups, 
especially with the multiple-phone family plans that are in- 
creasingly available. 

On the negative side, mobile phones increase the risk of car 
accidents fourfold due to distractions, regardless of whether the 
devices are hand held or hands free. Consequently, a number 
of states and municipalities have outlawed mobile phone use 
while driving a vehicle. The problem of distractions caused by 
cell phones also applies to pedestrians (Nasar, et al., 2004). 

"the new 



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well as feed- 
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Paradigms Lost ... and Gained 

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Table 1.1 Paradigm shift from mechanical to natural model 

Paradigm Shift: From Fixed to Living Systems 

A significant paradigm shift has taken place in the world of 
business in recent decades (Petzinger, 1999). For hundreds of 
years the Newtonian paradigm, with its mechanical, hierar- 
chical, and natural resource/capital driven system, prevailed. 
Supply side domination of the market place used to dictate 
and limit consumer choices: you can buy your Model-T Ford 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design 15 

in any color, as long as it is black. Similarly, in the post-World 
War II era monotonous housing in suburbs like Levittown, 
New York assumed that one size fits all. 

Einstein's Theory of Relativity led not only to the develop- 
ment of cybernetics (von Foerster and Poerksen, 1998) — the 
science of feedback, feed forward, and control — it ultimately 
evolved into the new paradigm for business: It is alive and it 
advocates self-regulating systems, as well as feedback-based 
continuous quality improvement. A military application re- 
sulted in the development of cruise missiles, which can read 
the terrain and use the feedback to adjust their course toward a 
target. Similarly, the new paradigm promotes consumer-driv- 
en, customized mass production of products, cars, and other 
commodities like housing. Information is the currency of the 
day, not extracted minerals or agricultural, industrial, and 
consumer products. In Silicon Valley and the film industry, 
and for high tech enterprises like Microsoft, creativity is the 
driving force. The "chaordic" systems approach, as described 
by Hock (2005), signifies order in a chaotic world based on 
non-hierarchical and adaptable principles and governance. The 
global expansion of the ubiquitous VISA card, the most suc- 
cessful business venture in history, exemplified this. It may well 
be an appropriate model for planning complex environments 
that are responsive to an increasingly diverse social, economic, 
and cultural world. 

Gilroy (2006) observed in his obituary of Jane Jacobs: 
"Modern planners have contorted Jacob's belief in hopes of 
imposing their static, end-state vision of a city." He describes 
this approach as counter to Jacobs' belief that cities, "thrive 
on private initiative, trial-and error, incremental change, and 
human and economic diversity," and her view that the best 
communities, "are diverse, messy and arise out of spontaneous 
order, not from a scheme [dictating] how people should live 
and how neighborhoods should look." 

Universal Design at the Planning and Urban Scale 

Multiple examples of applying universal design principles at 
the urban scale can be found in the Universal Design Hand- 
book (Preiser and Ostroff, 2001). For instance, it has a chap- 
ter by Weisman on creating a universally designed city; chap- 
ters by Manley and Vescovo on universal design in the urban 



realm; chapters by Goltsman, Miyake, and Robb on urban 
landscaping, parks, and national parks; a chapter by Beasley 
and Davies on sports and entertainment venues; a chapter by 
Fletcher on waterfront development; chapters by Grosbois and 
Steinfeld on transportation; and a chapter by Tappuni on the 
reconstruction of the Beirut CBD. 

In the following, this chapter attempts to address universal 
design by illustrating the "Seven Principles of Universal De- 
sign" developed by the Center for Universal Design at North 
Carolina State University (Story, 2001). The chapter explains 
the principles; highlights their system performance criteria, 
and describes their applications at the urban and building 
scale through select case study examples; outlines implications 
for control mechanisms; and presents ideas for further explor- 
ation of relevant issues in the future. 

Compared with traditional performance criteria (Preiser, 
2003) for planned and designed environments, some of which 
are codified in life safety and building codes, the principles are 
lofty ideals and guiding principles that need to become better 
operationalized so that planners and designers can use them in 
their projects. The following three-level hierarchy of priorities 
corresponds to degrees of codification as they exist today: 

1. Health/Safety/Security Performance: Addressed by 
"must adhere to" codes and regulations. 

2. Function/Efficiency/Process Performance: Covered by 
guidelines that may be internal to a community or organiza- 

3. Social/Psychological/Cultural Performance: Derived 
from years of research studies on the effect of the planned/ 
built environment on human well being. 

"provide the 

same means 

of use for all 






when not" 

Principle 1: Equitable Use 

"The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse 
abilities" (Story 2001). 

Provide equal access. This idea speaks to our democratic 
principle of equality. Everybody should have equal access to 
built and urban environments. "Provide the same means of use 
for all users, identical whenever possible, equivalent when not" 
(Story 2001) promotes equal access to streets and sidewalks, 
public (and privately owned) buildings, community centers, 
hospitals, schools and colleges, transportation facilities, urban 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design XL 

and national parks, and so on. 

System Performance Criteria 

Provide horizontal pathway systems which separate travel 
paths and surfaces from vehicular traffic, thus easing pedes- 
trian and wheelchair movement, either at ground level, above, 
or underground. 

For example, street level crossings of vehicular roadways 
and pedestrian sidewalks present a complex situation, especial- 
ly for travelers who are blind or have low vision. Drivers do not 
obey traffic lights in some cultures. For example, in Brazil the 
author found drivers racing through red lights at night, while 
drivers with green lights cautiously approached the intersec- 
tions and then checked cross traffic before proceeding. 

The National Federation of the Blind and the American 
Council of the Blind had considerable debate as to whether 
sound signals at pedestrian street crossings (e.g., buzzers, chirp- 
ing bird sounds) are effective. The National Federation rejects 
them and maintains that sound traffic signals are bad, since 
they are present in few places. Instead, it would prefer that 
people who are blind or have low vision to use white canes and 
seeing-eye dogs. In Japan, communities have installed both 
rubberized tiles in the pavement, and sound signals at street 

Different issues arise with skywalk systems. Minneapolis, 
where the severe climate forces people inside for much of the 
winter, has an extensive skywalk system that attracts heavy 
use. However, in Cincinnati and other U.S. cities with milder 
climates, skywalk systems have been all but abandoned and/or 
disrupted in various places, making them dysfunctional. Sky- 
walk systems can suck pedestrian life out of sidewalks at street 
level, while at the same time presenting passersby with empty 
store fronts at the skywalk level. Similarly, the underground 
passage and mall system works well for Montreal, but in balmy 
Albuquerque, New Mexico the underground shopping center 
next to Fountain Square sits mostly empty. 

In general, private shopping centers are by definition dis- 
criminatory: the owners often use security to remove "unde- 
sirables" such as teenagers or other persons just hanging out. 
This has included our students who were doing observational 
studies or were trying to conduct surveys of shoppers. 


An anecdote about an accessibility paradox: With tourism 
being a major driver of the economy in Edinburgh, Scotland, 
the cathedral dedicated to the Patron Saint of the Disabled, St. 
Giles, is a curious example of inaccessibility. Located on the 
Golden Mile, and converted into a tourist information center, 
the cathedral belies its name because its main entrance is not 
accessible to people with disabilities. 

When dealing with an historic structure like St. Giles Ca- 
thedral, one cannot cover the steps with a ramp, as was done in 
the TWA Terminal building referred to above. One will have 
to figure out equal access, perhaps with clear signage pointing 
to a side entrance where there is an elevator that can reach all 
critical levels of the building. 

Principle 2: Flexibility in Use 

"The design accommodates a wide range of individual prefer- 
ences and abilities." 

Provide choices and adaptability. This concept provides for 
adaptive re-use of existing facilities, such as converting lofts 
into housing or turning hardware stores into churches. At the 
community scale, it also aims at the creation of a variety of 
mixed, complementary uses, such as retail and recreation and 
entertainment in connection with housing (i.e., so-called life- 
style centers) or even more advanced and increasingly popular 
mixed-use suburban town centers. Langdon (2006) character- 
ized these as follows: 

"the ingredient missing from many suburbs is a 'town cen- 
ter', a place people head to for many different purposes — 
to shop, dine, visit a library, deliver a package to the post 
office, take in a movie or a concert, or just to enjoy being 
in an animated public place." 

System Performance Criteria 

Better meet increasing demand among people wishing to re- 
side in downtowns and/or in walking/biking distance from 
their employment locations. Similarly, recognize the growing 
trend to develop so-called life-style communities, with high 
density housing in walking distance from shopping and ser- 
vices, as well as entertainment and recreation. According to 
the New Urbanists, an acceptable walking distance range is 
from 600 feet to about Va mile. 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design 



Over the years, there have been many attempts at traffic 
calming in Europe and elsewhere, especially in older cities. 
Design solutions include roundabouts at street intersections, 
single lane automobile traffic with on-street parking, planters, 
and places to sit. The Village at The Streets of West Chester 
(Ohio) is a new town center being built. One of its design- 
ers, Jeff Raser (2006), characterizes this project as pedestrian- 
friendly for all pedestrians, whether a person without disabili- 
ties, a person who uses a wheelchair, a person who uses crutches, 
a person with a stroller, older adults or young adults. 

According to him, wheelchair ramps and handrails are 
not enough. A universally designed neighborhood should have 
narrow streets, easy to cross, bump-outs for "safe harbor for 
"planning for pedestrians to stand on when awaiting their chance to cross, 
choice and sidewalk ramps to crosswalks that are "well defined with a 
rectangle of contrastingly colored truncated domes along the 
back rail of the curb," and "crosswalks well-marked with tex- 
ture in the street, like stamped concrete or asphalt." 

An example of a "beyond the beltway community" is 
Burnsville, Minnesota, with its Excelsior & Grand town cen- 
ter. Ben Garvin of the New York Times (2006) noted: 

"The latest thing in suburban development is something 
very old: city living ... A handful of suburban areas 
around Minneapolis-St. Paul have begun ambitious plans 
to create town centers, with pedestrian friendly sidewalks, 
condos, restaurants and shops. If it looks like a city, well, 
it is supposed to." 

Another example of planning for choice and adaptation 
are sports arenas and stadiums. In recent years there have been 
federal lawsuits against some major sports arena and stadium 
design firms, who basically designed according to code. How- 
ever, they didn't understand that sight lines can be disrupted 
when spectators get excited and stand up, blocking the view of 
a person who uses a wheelchair. The spirit of universal design is 
exemplified by arrangements providing for flexible seating and 
choices in different locations and price categories. 

A good example of flexible arena design for spectators with 
disabilities may be the Nationwide Arena in downtown Colum- 
bus, Ohio in which hockey is played. It provides for choices in 
seating. It has fixed seating and mobile seating, next to which 
a wheelchair can be pulled up, in various price ranges and seat- 



ing locations. Meanwhile, in the Schottenstein Arena at The 
Ohio State University, and despite the good intentions of the 
arena planners, sight lines are still disrupted because spectators 
climb on top of their seats when the action gets wild. 

Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use 

"Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's 
experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentra- 
tion level." 

Make urban environments legible and attractive through 
their spatial qualities. 

System Performance Criteria 

Provide accurate and intuitively understandable directional 
guidance or markers for planned and designed environments, 
which in themselves need to be legible with a minimum of 
confusion at both pedestrian and automobile speeds. Further- 
more, devise criteria that apply to persons with different sen- 
sory disabilities. 

The qualities inherent in good urban design were defined 
by Kevin Lynch (1960) as focal points for orientation, edges or 
barriers, places of congregation, and so on. These were visual 
means to describe and define markers, boundaries, and other 
spatial features of the urban environment, primarily seen from 
the perspective of pedestrians. At the speed of automobiles, 
different mechanisms are at work, such as highly visible desti- 
nations like the Transamerica Tower and Golden Gate Bridge 
in San Francisco; the Opera House or Harbor Bridge in Syd- 
ney, Australia; the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake City; or 
the hugely successful harbor front in Baltimore. 

Making public parks, playgrounds, and spaces accessible 
is just as important as the free use of public facilities such as 
toilets that serve everybody, including people with disabilities 
and tourists. In Paris, 400 new and latest model automatic 
conveniences will be installed, with an exterior tap for drink- 
ing water. 

Principle 4: Perceptible Information 

"The design communicates necessary information effectively 
to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sen- 
sory abilities." 


accurate and 




guidance or 


The Seven Principles of Universal Design 


Offer redundancy of sensory modes in signage and way- 
finding systems. 

System Performance Criteria 

Provide for some degree of redundancy among the different 
senses, especially when one is dealing with emergency egress: 
signage and signals using sound, light, or even strobe lights. 
Employ different media, like pictograms, touch, or other 
means of presenting stimuli or information. Enhance the leg- 
ibility of essential information using hierarchies of letter sizes, 
different fonts, colors, and graphic systems. 

Japan uses tactile and visual clues on sidewalks and sub- 
way station platforms. Yellow, rubbery tiles with raised straight 
lines mean "proceed." Dots indicate "stop and re-orient" 

Distance markers and maps help create mental maps for 
drivers, setting up anticipation of what to expect in making 
driving decisions, such as turning off of a freeway. Amber alert 
signs are a form of universal design, since they alert all drivers 
to traffic conditions that lie ahead or vehicle information on 
missing persons' kidnappers. 

In transportation facilities such as airports, travelers must 
have clear signage systems and communication of information 
to find their way around. When the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport 
first opened, it was thought that automated trains and video 
displays of gate information could replace ground personnel. 
In reality, once passengers boarded a train, they received no 
more feedback on the train's location in relationship to their 
destination. The loop routes of the trains meant that with no 
reference to the outside many passengers felt disoriented and 
distressed, traveled in circles, and ultimately had to ask for as- 
sistance. Recently traveling through that airport, the author 
saw personnel at every corner asking, "Do you have a ques- 
tion?" In other words, overkill in technology can result in poor 
performance and experiences. Similarly, at the Atlanta airport 
MARTA (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) 
changed the toll system to tickets which are dispensed from a 
machine. This was so confusing that MARTA had to post a 
person at each machine to explain how to use it. This is self- 
defeating: can you imagine a person standing at every machine 
once it goes system-wide? 

Large hospitals, frequently accretions of building phas- 

"clarity in 

systems and 
tion of 
essential to 
the traveler's 

finding is of 



es and additions over time, are notorious for contusion and 
stressful wayhnding experiences. One such case is Children's 
Hospital in Cincinnati, which covers a huge area with no clear 
indication of where to enter, park, and proceed from there. 
Accordingly the hospital developed a color coded building di- 
rectory and synchronized si^na^e system. »«~%™«a 


Principle 5: Tolerance for Error 

"'The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences Sale 

ot accidental or unintended actions." for all 

"Make environments secure and sate to use bv all" (Story 
2001 . 

System Performance Criteria 

Kendrick 200} . who is blind, noted that accessible sidewalks 
are her most important criterion when selecting a place to live. 
They allow her to access any service, program, or product ev- 
en-body else uses. Ot course, many suburban communities 
have abandoned the idea >and cost ot building and maintain- 
ing sidewalks. ^ here they do exist in urban areas they need to 
be free or obstructions, cracked concrete, and other obstacles 
which might cause a person who has low vision to fall and get 
injured. As Kendrick put it. sidewalks are 

"ribbons ot concrete that, when smooth and unobstructed 
bv tree roots and utility lines, bring all citizens, with and 
without disabilities, into the same employment, education 
and recreational activities our communities offer . 
Special elevators for emergency evacuations from high- 
rise buildings are an example of progress being made. 
An article in The Wall Street Journal i Frangos. 2005 1 discussed 
elevator safety for all building users, including rescue person- 
nel. The article reflects on the commission that is investigat- 
ing 9 11. and the fall of the twin World Trade Center towers. 
Why is it that other countries building codes in Europe and 
most of Asia require these lifts, although the rules differ? In 
the L.S. we not only forbid people to go down in elevators, but 
nrefighters cannot use elevators to ^o up and help people to 
evacuate. In 1993 they had to walk up the World Trade Center 
stairs, which was utterly ineffective. In countries like Malaysia, 
wirh the Petronas Tower in Kuala Lumpur designed by Cesar 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design 


Pelli, such elevators are common. The new Freedom Tower in 
New York City, designed by SOM, will have such an elevator. 
June Kailes, a Los Angeles based disability consultant said: 
"Disability rights activists are strong supporters of the el- 
evators. What we learned from 9/11, and many events be- 
fore 9/11, is the ability to evacuate multi-story buildings, 
an issue for a broad spectrum of people who would never 
identify themselves as disabled, but who couldn't negotiate 
so many steps." 

This is true because there are many people who are not 
necessarily using wheelchairs but have all kinds of mobility 
problems, and who would find themselves stranded on the 
100th floor, where they would probably all perish. We have a 
lot to improve in the area of fire egress from tall buildings. 

Remembering the disastrous evacuation of New Orleans 
in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one could argue for 
universally designed disaster evacuation plans for cities and 
regions that are vulnerable and experience disasters on a recur- 
ring basis. 



of effort" 

Principle 6: Low Physical Effort 

"The design can be used efficiently and comfortably, and with 
a minimum of fatigue." 

This principle has to do with inclines and the surface char- 
acteristics (e.g., carpeting versus hard floor or gravel). 

System Performance Criteria 

"Find ways to reduce the expenditure of effort and to mini- 
mize repetitive actions at all scales of the environment" (Story, 

An example of affordable and accessible mass transpor- 
tation is a rapid transit system, which was developed using 
dedicated high speed lanes in Ecuador and Brazil. Bus stations 
have ramps on either side. After entering and paying, one is 
level with the floor of the buses — allowing for rapid loading 
and unloading. There is no delay for paying or using a wheel- 
chair. This is a universally designed rapid transport system that 
is appropriate for those countries that cannot afford subways. 

When it comes to individualized public transportation 
(i.e., taxis), London is considered the most accessible city in 
the world. All new taxis must have foldout ramps, which take 


a few seconds to put in place. All older model taxis must have 
one of these ramps in the trunk. In addition, the taxis are com- 
fortable, with high ceilings and multiple seat configurations. 
For example, one can put a seatbelt around one's wheelchair in 
order to secure it. However, the subways (called "the tube") are 
not accessible at all, except for the new Jubilee Line. 

At the building scale Zipf s (1949) famous "Human Behav- 
ior and the Principle of Least Effort" clearly applies. Festinger's 
(1950) classic socio-metric study, exploring post-W!W. II GI 
Bill MIT student housing, demonstrated that the amount of 
effort that was implied in overcoming distance and number 
of floors was critical in the establishment of acquaintance and 
friendship patterns among residents. Another multi-stairway 
investigation (Hanyu and Itsukushima, 2000) found that in- "access 
creased expenditure of effort resulted in reduced use. -p or a |i» 

Finally, as was noted for evacuation above, residential el- 
evators are essential for a variety of groups with disabilities, 
whether wheelchair-users or not. A new generation of more 
affordable elevators, using the suction principle that can ac- 
commodate wheelchairs, is coming on the market (Daytona, 

Principle 7: Size and Shape for Approach and Use 

This principle and category clearly does not apply to the urban 
and planning scale when interpreted in its original meaning: 
the limits the human body and dimensions place on the acces- 
sibility of counters, shelving, appliances, dispensers, controls, 
electrical outlets, door handles, and other critical items. There- 
fore, in considering the goal of "Access for All" at the urban 
scale, different concepts come into play. 

System Performance Implications 

The elements that are critical for a city to be livable refer to 
"accessibility" from the perspective of pedestrian distances in 
neighborhoods in high density cities like New York. In Man- 
hattan most necessary daily services — shopping, the library, 
churches, and entertainment — are within a mile's walking 
distance from one's apartment. Lewis Mumford testified to 
this in his 1979 film classic, "Toward a Humane Architec- 
ture" (Meehan, 1991). In short, in this type of community the 
operating principle is integration, not separation of uses, and, 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design 25 

implicitly, zoning approaches. Building "Livable Communi- 
ties" in the interest of maintaining independence for seniors 
is also strongly advocated by the American Association of Re- 
tired Persons (AARP). The common elements of this include: 
"affordable and appropriate housing, public transportation, 
community services, nearby shopping and medical services, 
job opportunities, and recreation" (Novell, 2006). 

An example of this are current inner-urban redevelopment 
schemes in the U.S. in which mixed-use zoning calls for high- 
rise buildings with residential floors at the top, a hotel un- 
derneath, office uses below that, retail at the street level, and, 
finally, parking underground. 

Many precedents exist in Japan at both Tokyo and Nagoya 
Stations. Mixed-use towers have been built with office zones, 
hotel zones, and restaurant zones, as well as retail shopping 

1 . The Marunouchi Building in Tokyo connects to the Ja- 
pan Rail Station and the city blocks being redeveloped around 
it via a system of underground shopping arcades and tunnels, 
which are fed by the traffic that is generated by hundreds of 
thousands of passengers passing through the station every day. 
Two remarkable features distinguish this building, which was 
fully leased only months after its opening in 2003, while there 
was a glut of office space in Tokyo. First, it has a huge atrium 
space, open to the public, which is used for exhibits and public 
gatherings. It is, in fact, a window to the community, wel- 
coming the public for lunchtime concerts and other events. 
Second, at the top level of the tower a viewing floor is open to 
the public at no charge. In short, the building has become a 
destination in Tokyo — a public place in private property. 

2. The JR (Japan Rail) Tower in Nagoya uses air rights 
above Nagoya Station and contains a mix of uses that is simi- 
lar to the Marunouchi Building, plus a Marriott Hotel. Most 
unusual compared to the U.S., it has a buzzing Sky Mall 13-15 
floors above street level. 

At a smaller scale, and in the suburban context of the 
U.S., many of the continuously growing communities outside 
the beltway are playing catch-up with the increasing need for 
community infrastructure and support facilities, like commu- 
nity centers. For example, the Lakota Schools in West Chester, 
Ohio planned high schools with the "Main Street " concept 


in mind — a large, long space primarily used as student break 
areas, but also for community events such as public fairs and 

Field Evaluations at the University of Cincinnati 

While the Seven Principles of Universal Design have been 
devised as ideals and general guidelines, almost like the Ten 
Commandments, they lack specificity and operational util- 
ity. For that, we need continuing field-based evaluations of all 
kinds of facilities. Field learning and universal design evalua- 
tion exercises are an important component (Preiser, 2001). In 
the "Universal Design" course in the School of Architecture 
and Interior Design at the University of Cincinnati, we have 
carried out evaluations of the university campus, the Interna- 
tional Airport, the public library system of 42 branches, super- 
markets, banks, hospitals, the Contemporary Art Center, and 
other facilities. Many of these facilities, despite meeting the 
ADA guidelines and regulations, are not accessible. 

Consider a new campus building, intended as a one-stop 
center where students register, pay, get assistance, and so on. 
We found that if one pushes the button to open the door, by 
the time one gets to the door it is already closing. Had some- 
one field test it first, they would have seen that it needs a post- 
mounted button that one can push and get through the door 
right away. When planning new buildings, one needs to use 
integrative thinking from the start, literally making the built 
environment a level playing field. 

Ideas for Future Exploration 

Future research will need to clarify advantages, disadvantages 
and cost implications of the following: 

1. Level versus underground and above-ground street 
crossings. This includes above-ground sky walk bridges versus 
underground concourse and connector tunnel systems, such 
as the one in Montreal, Canada referred to above, or under- 
ground arcades which fill the inside of city blocks with shop- 
ping, restaurants, and other people-intensive uses. 

2. Adaptable buildings and facilities, as well as mixed-use 
zoning, which combine commercial land use with commu- 
nity services, shopping, and residential housing. This includes 
downtown revitalization, such as the conversion of department 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design ^Z 

stores, office buildings, and lofts to residential use; upgrading 
centers of older suburbs like Hyde Park and Clifton in Cincin- 
nati; and the proliferating new town centers in today's suburbs 
in more than 60 locations in the country. 

3. Signage control ordinances that regulate permissible lo- 
cations, sizes, and other parameters of signs in public spaces. 

4. Special ordinances permitting tactile signage systems in 
sidewalks and platforms of stations. Developing globally us- 
able signage for sports venues like the Olympics using picto- 
grams, for example. 

5. The application of universal design principles to people 
movement in general, as well as the mitigation and aftermath 
of disasters in particular. 

6. Establishing realistic distances that pedestrians, the 
older adults, children, and wheelchair users can master under 
various conditions (e.g., weather, temperature, traffic density). 
This should also be extended to such venues as amusement 
parks, where covering great distances, waiting for rides, enter- 
ing rides, dealing with crowds, as well as accessibility of toilet 
rooms and eating establishments are important. Making po- 
tential experiences the same or similar for all is most desirable, 
like dipping one's feet into fountains. 


This chapter sought to demonstrate that universal design holds 
the potential for humanizing environments, both at the gen- 
eral planning and urban scales, and especially, if the political 
will exists to focus various aspects of urban planning on inclu- 
sive planning for all. To quote Kotkin (2006) again: 

"It is time politicians recognized how their constituents 
actually want to live. If not, they will only hurt their 
communities, and force aspiring middle-class families to 
migrate ever further out to the periphery for the privacy, 
personal space and ownership that constitutes the basis of 
their common dreams." 

Universal Design Handbook: A Resource 

Many questions about universal design can be answered by 
Preiser and OstrofFs (2001) Universal Design Handbook. It 
has chapters on conceptual frameworks and policies for uni- 
versal design at the building, community, and global scales, 


as well as case studies from around the world. Trie back cover 
has a CD with the Americans with Disabilities Act Guide- 
lines (ADAG), and other helpful materials. One can download 
these and use them to determine what provisions are relevant 
to specific design projects. However, remember that universal 
design is intended to transcend the ADA, which usually ad- 
dresses only minimum requirements and dimensions. 


For the conceptual basis of this paper (i.e., "Feedback, Feed 
Forward and Control") I am indebted to my mentor, the late 
Dr. Heinz von Foerster. A world renowned cyberneticist, he 
was Professor Emeritus and founding director of the Biological 
Computer Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Urbana, IL. 
Thanks are owed to Elaine Ostroff, without whose expertise 
and global network in the field of universal design the Univer- 
sal Design Handbook could not have been created. 


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and entertainment. In W. F. E. Preiser, & E. Ostroff 
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implement universal design. W. F. E. Preiser, & E. Os- 
troff (Eds.), Universal Design Handbook. New York: 

Bruegmann, R. (2005). Sprawl- A Compact History. Chi- 
cago: University of Chicago Press. 

Festinger, L. (1950). Social Pressures in Informal Groups. 
New York, Harper. 

Fletcher, V. (2001). A neighborhood fit for people: Uni- 
versal design on the South Boston waterfront. In W. 
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Handbook. New York: McGraw-Hill. 

Frangos, A. (2005). Panel may recommend firefighter 
elevators. The Wall Street Journal, April 20. 

Garvin, B. (2006). Suburbs want downtowns of their own. 
The New York Times, April 30. 

Gilroy, L. (2006). Urban planners are blind to what Jane 

The Seven Principles of Universal Design 29 

Jacobs really saw. The Wall Street Journal, May 2. 

Goltsman, S. (2001). Universal design in outdoor areas. In 
W. F. E. Preiser, & E. Ostroff (Eds.), Universal Design 
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Hanyu, K., & Itsukushima, Y. (2000). Cognitive distance 
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decent thing to do. The Cincinnati Enquirer, Sunday, 
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Modern Library. 

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Visitability: Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood Design 

Toward Inclusive Housing and 
Neighborhood Design: 
A Look at Visitability 

Jordana L. Maisel 


As a population ages and faces a greater number of physical 
disabilities, housing and community design must be re-exam- 
ined. This research explores the growing need for accessible 
housing in the United States and the recent emergence of visit- 
ability as an affordable and sustainable design strategy aimed 
at increasing the number of accessible single family homes and 
neighborhoods. The research uses both qualitative and quan- 
titative methods to study the evolution of accessible housing 
policy in the United States, the history and fundamental prin- 
ciples of visitability, and the number and diversity of visitabil- 
ity initiatives and programs. The research explores trends in 
the visitability movement, as well as the challenges and con- 
troversies currently surrounding the visitability movement and 
potentially threatening its future success. 

In the next twenty years, as millions of Americans reach their 
senior years, the nation will confront profound challenges in 
the domestic environment, including a lack of affordable and 
accessible housing. Although housing and neighborhood de- 
sign affect everyone, the complex relationship between people 
and the built environment has a more significant impact on 
people with disabilities and the older population. Housing can 
either inhibit or facilitate the ability of these individuals to 
live and age successfully with independence and with dignity. 
As the population ages and the number of people with physi- 
cal disabilities increases, existing paradigms of housing and 
neighborhood design must be given greater scrutiny from a 
lifespan perspective. Unfortunately, most of today's housing 
stock fails to meet the basic needs of these two population 
groups. Accessible residential arrangements that maximize in- 
dividual autonomy and empower older adults and people with 
disabilities are extremely rare, particularly in the single family 
housing market. 



Responding to the need for more accessible homes, chang- 
es in public policy and new design practices have emerged. 
Visitability, a concept that describes affordable, sustainable, 
and accessible design for single family housing, continues to 
gain popularity. This chapter discusses the origins of this new, 
inclusive design strategy, its components and goals, the rate of 
adoption by communities, and obstacles to its adoption. 

Conducted between December 2003 and June 2004, this 
study sought to obtain a comprehensive understanding of vis- 
itability 's history and document the most recent developments 
in its adoption. It builds on and updates research by Spegal 
and Liebig (2003) and Kochera (2002). The study included 
extensive Internet searches and postings on the visitability 
discussion list sponsored by the IDEA Center, and telephone 
interviews with federal, state, and local housing agencies, fi- 
nance departments, and disability advocates' offices. Unlike 
earlier work, this study analyzed both existing and proposed 
initiatives to track the diffusion of visitability and explore rea- 
sons for the observed patterns. Moreover, it attempts to explain 
recent challenges and controversies surrounding visitability. 

Because not all locations use the term "visitability," it is 
difficult to track the adoption of visitability across the coun- 
try. Other factors complicating the research include the lack 
of an organization assigned to monitor visitability ordinances 
and ordinances and laws that often do not specify the agency 
responsible for implementation (Spegal & Liebig, 2003). To 
capture as much information as possible on new accessible- 
housing initiatives, this research used a loose definition of vis- 
itability. Thus, the results include some programs that neither 
specifically identified the three architectural features associ- 
ated with visitability nor made visitability mandatory. As a 
result, this chapter uses the term "visitability initiatives and 
programs" rather than "visitability laws and ordinances." 





and accessi- 

ble design for 



The Need for Accessible Housing 

Most single family homes, duplexes, and town homes have for- 
midable barriers to people with disabilities. They often have 
steps at all entrances and hallways, and doorways too narrow 
for wheelchair use. Since most people in this country live in 
such housing, this lack of accessibility places seniors and neigh- 
bors with disabilities at a disadvantage in their social lives and 

Visitability: Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood Design 33 

the housing market. 

These accessibility problems negatively affect millions of 
Americans who have mobility impairments and, therefore, 
experience barriers within their own homes. This population 
includes, but is not limited to, people who use assistive devices. 
Approximately 6.8 million American residents use assistive de- 
vices to help them with mobility (Kaye, Kang, & LaPlante, 
2000). Research also suggests that the use of mobility devices 
will grow with the aging of the population (LaPlante, Hender- 
shot, & Moss, 1992). 

A study published by the Department of Housing and 
Urban Development (HUD) emphasized the discrepancy be- 
tween the need for and supply of accessible homes. Over one 
million aging homeowners have unmet housing needs. Many 
have serious home rehabilitation and modification needs that, 
if unmet, could force them to move or seriously reduce their 
quality of life (HUD, 1999). 

These housing problems will worsen in the next few de- 
cades as the country's population experiences a major demo- 
graphic transformation. Projections based on U.S. Census 
Bureau data indicate that the number of persons age 65 and 
older will grow to almost 40 million by the year 2010 (Jones & 
Sanford, 1996) and 70 million by 2030. In addition to living 
longer, people are now living longer with disabilities. The same 
advancements in medicine and technology that have increased 
the human lifespan now enable people to survive accidents and 
illnesses that were once fatal. 

Federal legislation does not encourage accessibility in 
housing in the private market. The Rehabilitation Act amend- 
ments of 1977 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 
only apply to housing constructed with government funding 
and only require five percent of the units in covered projects to 
be accessible. Although the Fair Housing Act Amendments of 
1988 require all newly constructed multifamily housing with 
four or more units in elevator-equipped buildings to be ac- 
cessible, since these regulations do not apply to single family 
homes they exclude the largest section of the housing supply. 

"the number 
of persons 
age 65 and 
older will 
grow to 
almost 40 
million by the 
year 2010" 

The Advent of Visitability 

Despite existing legislative limitations, new strategies to incor- 
porate accessibility in single family housing are emerging and 



gaining recognition. Recent legislation, advocacy movements, 
and shifting philosophies not only appeal to a greater segment 
of the population, they also strive to fill the current gap in 
housing accessibility by specifically targeting single family 

Unlike home modifications, where supportive features are 
incorporated to address residents' individual needs, visitability 
strives to provide a baseline level of accessibility in all new 
home construction in hopes of benefiting the entire population 
by creating accessible neighborhoods. Visitability is an afford- 
able, sustainable, and accessible design approach that targets 
single family homes. Originating in Europe, the visitability 
movement was initiated in the United States in 1986 by El- 
eanor Smith, a disability rights advocate, and her group Con- 
crete Change. She hopes to make all new homes not covered 
by current access regulations "accessible enough" for visitors 
with disabilities. A visitable home is intended to be a residence 
for anyone and to provide access to everyone. 

Many advocates and researchers view visitability as a ma- 
jor step towards achieving universal design on a neighborhood 
level. In acknowledging the valuable role of visitability in de- 
veloping active communities, Truesdale and Steinfeld (2002, 
pp. 8-9) contend, "Although less than the ideal of a univer- 
sally designed home, visitability is actually universal design 
practiced through community and neighborhood planning. 
It ensures that a basic level of accessibility will be provided 
in all housing, and, it opens opportunities for participation 
in community life." Data from the 2002 National Health 
Interview Survey (NHIS) confirm that building designs act 
as barriers to participation in community activities for many 
people. Among people with disabilities who reported that bar- 
riers limited or prevented their community participation, 43.1 
percent mentioned problems with building design, such as 
stairs, bathrooms, or narrow doors (Hendershot, 2004). The 
built environment greatly affects whether or not an individual 
engages in their community. 

Rather than force individuals to remain isolated and con- 
fined to their personal surroundings, visitability allows indi- 
viduals with a variety of abilities to interact with each other 
and engage in community activities. It also provides benefits 
to a wide range of users, including those without disabilities 


all new 



enough for 

visitors with 


Visitability: Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood Design 35 

who may, from time to time, become temporarily impaired by 
their circumstances or environment. 

Three Principles of Visitability 

Visitability has three fundamental tentes. First, the inclusion 
of basic architectural access features in all new homes is a civil 
right that improves every person's ability to live productively 
and comfortably (Concrete Change, n.d.). People with dis- 
abilities should be able to visit their neighbors for mutual assis- 
tance, friendship formation, and childcare. Visitability strives 
to create opportunities for all neighbors in a community to 
socialize, help each other, and interact more effectively. It at- 
tempts to break down attitudinal as well as physical barriers to 
social integration of people with disabilities. 

Second, visitability rests on the notion that through good 
design basic accessibility to single family housing can be pro- 
vided, in most cases with minimal financial cost (Concrete 
Change, n.d.; Truesdale & Steinfeld, 2002). Incorporating ac- 
cessible architecture features into housing designs during the 
Three principles early stages of development, before construction, remains af- 
of visitability: fordable. Studies confirm that introducing visitability through 

1. Inclusion retrofitting results in significantly higher costs. 

of basic archi- Third, simplicity promotes implementation. Prioritizing 

tectural access access features ensures that the supply of accessible homes will 

features in a increase more rapidly. Visitability advocates argue that a long 

home nst °^ demands can create the misconception that all access 

2 Good basic features have equal importance, and must all be included in 

accessibility at homes. A visitable home must meet only three conditions: 1) 

minimum cost zero-step entrance; 2) doorways that have 32 inches of clear- 

1 SimnliHrv anc e; and 3) basic access to at least a half bath on the main 

nromot ' 1 floor. These features allow a person with mobility impairments 

to visit or live in a home, at least temporarily (Truesdale & 
Steinfeld, 2002). 

The Visitability Movement 

Recognizing the benefits of and growing need for more acces- 
sible housing, many state and local jurisdictions have joined 
the visitability movement. Several municipalities and states 
across the country have already formalized and enacted visit- 
ability programs. Despite their common goal of increasing the 
supply of accessible housing, these visitability programs vary 



in the geographic regions they cover, the scope of features they 
include, and the strategy by which they are implemented and 
enforced. Some visitability initiatives are mandatory, requiring 
builders and homeowners to include visitable features during 
new construction. Others are voluntary or, perhaps, include 
additional architectural elements such as blocking for grab bars 
in bathroom walls and accessible environmental controls. 

Mandatory Visitability Initiatives and Programs 
In 1992, Atlanta, Georgia passed the first ordinance requiring 
basic visitability features in single family homes or duplexes 
built with any type of city subsidy, such as tax incentives, city 
loans or financial grants, land grants, or local dispositions of 
federal block grants (Kochera, 2002). The success of this or- 
dinance led to similar legislation across the country, in cities 
such as Austin, TX (1998), Urbana, IL(2000), and Scranton, 
PA (2005), and states such as Georgia (1998), Texas (1999), 
and Kansas (2002). 

Although most such legislation at the state or local level 
applies only to new publicly funded housing, some municipali- 
ties, such as Naperville, IL (2002), Pima County, AZ (2002), 
and Bolingbrook, IL(2003), have mandatory visitability legis- 
lation that applies to all new housing, including privately fi- 
nanced homes. 

Voluntary Visitability pitiatives and Programs 

In lieu of mandatory visitability initiatives, some states and 
municipalities have chosen to support voluntary programs for 
builders, developers, and consumers to promote the integra- 
tion of visitability principles in new housing. These programs 
include cash and tax incentives for builders and consumers, 
consumer awareness campaigns, and certification programs. 
In 1999, Irvine, CA established a Universal Design Program, 
which requires builders to provide consumers with a list of 33 
optional accessibility features. The builders then must include 
any of the elements that consumers request. Consumer aware- 
ness campaigns also exist in San Mateo County, CA (2001), 
Albuquerque, NM (2001), and Syracuse, NY (2003). 

Rather than approving a mandatory or incentive-based 
program, representatives in Visalia, California initiated a certi- 
fication program in 2001. The voluntary "Visitable Home Pro- 

Visitability: Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood Design 37 

gram" rewards builders with a certificate if they incorporate 
visitable features in their designs. The positive publicity often 
leads to additional clients and new projects. The EasyLiving 
Home program is another certification program designed to 
encourage builders of single family homes to incorporate sev- 
eral features that both increase the sellers' market and offer 
buyers a home easy for all to live in and visit (Concrete Change, 
n.d.). Established in Georgia in 2002, the EasyLiving Home 
(CM) program was developed by a group of public and pri- 
vate organizations to encourage the voluntary inclusion of key 
accessible features in single family homes. Extending beyond 
the three elements of visitability, the EasyLiving Home (CM) 
program also requires that homes have a bedroom on the main 
floor, some entertainment space and a kitchen to receive a seal 
of approval from the Easy Living Home Coalition. 

"as of June 
2006, 44 state 

and local 


had a 


program in 


Existing Visitability Initiatives and Programs 
As of June 2006, 44 state and local municipalities had a visit- 
ability program in place. Table 2.1 presents a distribution of 
both the mandatory and voluntary visitability initiatives cur- 
rently active in the United States. 

It shows that visitability programs are geographically dis- 
persed across the country, and although the most local pro- 
grams are in urban counties, which have higher populations 
and housing densities, visitability programs also exist in subur- 
ban and rural locales. Furthermore, initiatives are not limited 
to the states in the west that are expecting the largest surge in 
their aging population. States such as Pennsylvania, Kansas, 
and Illinois also have visitability efforts. 

Proposed Visitability Initiatives and Programs 
The research identified eleven states with visitability programs 
and sixteen visitability initiatives underway in other states, 
counties, and cities. They range from organized groups of in- 
dividuals who want to begin a visitability program to places in 
the final stages of developing a program. While the final out- 
comes of these initiatives remain uncertain, their emergence 
symbolizes a growing interest in incorporating more accessi- 
bility elements in both public and private housing. 











Tied to 

For All 







Consumer Incentives 


Atlanta. GA 

IL (2002) 


on. NY 


Freehold Borough. NJ (1997) 

Irvine, CA 

Austin. TX 

County, AZ 


TX (2004) 

Southampton. NY (2002) 

San Mateo 


Urbana, IL 

k. IL (2003) 

Escanaba. MI (2003) 

Visalia. CA 


Fort Worth. 
TX (2000) 

Pittsburgh. PA (2004) 

e, NM 

Beach. CA 


MD (2001) 


TX (2002) 



Iowa City, 
LA (2002) 


NY (2003) 

Chicago. IL 

. CA(2003) 

St. Louis 



Valley, AZ 



FL (2004) 

Toledo. OH 

NY (2005) 

PA (2005) 

Arvada. CO 


State Initiatives 




Georgia (1999) 






ia (2004) 

Virginia (1999) 

Easy Living 

Project in 











Table 2.1. Visitability initiatives and programs (Source: 
Maisel, 2006) 

Visitability: Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood Design 39 

Challenges and Controversies 

Visitability faces challenges. Critics question the legality of or- 
dinances, the cost effectiveness of programs, and the feasibility 
of implementation. Home builders argue that besides infring- 
ing on homeowners' "rights," inclusive design costs too much 
and negatively affects the aesthetic quality of homes (Lawlor, 
2004; Byzek, 1998). 

Visitability supporters also disagree over the best strategies 
to promote the construction of accessible single family housing. 
Some supporters argue for mandatory visitability legislation; 
others see voluntary efforts as more feasible yet still effective. 
Advocates also disagree over the limited amount of accessibil- 
ity included in visitability. Some believe that the basic access 
features typically required in visitability ordinances do not go 
far enough. Others see visitability as the best way to get some 
housing built now with at least a basic level of accessibility. 

Confusion and conflict exist between visitability and oth- 
er residential design philosophies. People incorrectly use the 
terms visitability and "aging in place" interchangeably. While 
the two share some characteristics, they have different goals. 
Whereas visitability strives to improve every person's ability 
to engage in social participation, aging in place targets older 
and middle-aged people by addressing their preference to stay 
in their own homes. Aging in place requires more accessibil- 
ity features than visitability. The differences can slow policy 

"New Urbanism" also has conflicts with visitability. New 
urbanists advocate the use of traditional neighborhood devel- 
opment (TND) to create pedestrian-oriented communities 
( While TNDs have many features ben- 
eficial to both older people and people with disabilities, such 
as narrow streets, a dense mixture of uses, and an emphasis on 
pedestrian life and public transportation, the housing designs 
often lack accessibility (Smith, 2005). For example, they often 
have steps at every entrance. Attempts to reconcile the two 
philosophies are underway. Representatives from the Congress 
for the New Urbanism and the visitability movement met in 
June 2004 at CNU XXII and in June 2006 at CNU XXIV to 
discuss the resolution of conflicts between the two approaches 
(New Urban News, 2004). 


Besides these broad policy issues, visitability advocates 
from many cities and states with proposed initiatives cite rea- 
sons for delays in adoption. In California and New York legal 
restrictions may impede adoption of local visitability ordi- 
nances. Californians hold the position that their state law pre- 
empts any attempts to regulate privately funded, single family 
construction. Similarly, many visitability efforts in New York 
State have stalled because of laws that limit local legislation 
from exceeding the requirements of the State Building Con- 
struction Code. Consequently, many cities within those states 
have turned to voluntary efforts to promote visitability. 

These potential barriers to the adoption of new visitability 
programs are compounded by the lack of visitable homes be- 
ing built in communities that have already adopted visitabil- 
ity. Because many locations place numerous restrictions on the 
homes that must comply with ordinances and other manda- 
tory programs, municipalities with established visitability pro- 
grams are failing to build large quantities of visitable homes. 
For example, in Oregon (2000) accessibility requirements 
only apply to new rental housing units and, consequently, they 
exclude the single family housing market. Visitability pro- 
grams in Minnesota (2001) and Kentucky (2003) only apply 
to homes financed with funds from the Minnesota Housing 
Finance Agency (MHFA) and the Kentucky Housing Corpo- 
ration (KHC), respectively. This, again, limits the number of 
homes covered by established visitability programs. 

Various broad and specific policy issues surrounding visit- 
ability may have to be reconciled to ensure the future success 
of this inclusive design strategy. Although interest in visitabil- 
ity has grown and the number of proposed initiatives has risen 
exponentially, the number of active initiatives appears to be 
leveling off (Figure 2.1). Because of the length and variability 
of time it takes to get an ordinance passed, many proposed ini- 
tiatives may appear in the next few years. Additional research 
that tracks the progress of these proposed initiatives will help 
document the impact of the challenges and policy issues. 

A Look to the Future 

Regardless of these challenges, the visitability move- 
ment continues to advance. One indication of its popular- 
ity and continued support is a relatively federal bill, H.R. 

Visitability: Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood Design 4l_ 

1441: The Inclusive Home Design Act. It was first intro- 
duced in the House of Representatives in 2002 by Rep- 
resentative Schakowsky (D-IL). A revised bill was rein- 
troduced on March 17, 2005, and it has approximately 36 

■ Adim tad 

* Isutiadiws m.'Fhc® 

^ N # ^ J> # <ff ^/ ^##### ## 

Figure 2.1 Total Number of Visitability Programs, 1989-2006 
(Source: Maisel, 2006). 

co-sponsors and the support of over 25 organizations. If passed 
in its current form, it would mandate that all federally financed 
housing include visitability features. This would help close the 
gap between the demand for and the supply of accessible hous- 
ing available in today's housing stock. 

Until federal legislation passes, the future adoption rate 
of visitability can be influenced by additional research as well 
as continued support from advocates, builders, and legislators. 
More definitive and comprehensive studies on the costs and 
benefits of visitability and research on the number of visitable 
homes built using each implementation strategy would help 
strengthen visitability supporters' efforts. Studies that demon- 
strate how visitability provides more accessible, safer, and more 
convenient homes would also demonstrate the effectiveness 
and general value of the concept. 

As the demographic shift begins to compound the current 
lack of accessible housing and neighborhoods, more people 
will confront challenges in the accessibility and usability of 
their dwellings. Visitability addresses the need for more acces- 
sible housing, and recognizes that this need extends beyond 


the multifamily housing market. Individuals who prefer to 
live in single family homes want accessible housing as well. 
Visitability provides an innovative, cost effective, and viable 
strategy for transforming and improving the nation's housing 
supply and meeting the needs of a changing population. 


Byzek, J. (1998, May/June). The National Association of 
Home Builders takes on all comers in its unrelenting 
fight against building homes all of us can enter. Ragged 
Edge Online. 

Concrete Change, (n.d.). Georgia's EasyLiving Home (CM) 
Program. Retrieved September 28, 2004, from http:// 

Hendershot, G. (2004). Building Design is Lead- 
ing Barrier to Community Participation. Washing- 
ton, D.C.: National Organization on Disability. 

Jones, M., & Sanford, J. (1996). People with mo- 
bility impairments in the United States to- 
day and in 2010. Assistive Technology, 8, 43-53. 

Kaye, S., Kang, T., & LaPlante, M. (2000). Mobility device 
use in the United States. Disability Statistics Report (14). 
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, Na- 
tional Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research. 

Kochera, A. (2002). Accessibility and visitability features in 
single-family homes: A review of state and local activity 
(Report #2002-03). Washington, D.C.: AARP Public 
Policy Institute. 

LaPlante, M., Hendershot, G., & Moss, A. (1992). Assistive 
technology devices and home accessibility features: Preva- 
lence, payment, need and trends. Advance Data from 
Vital and Health Statistics, 217. Hyattsville, Maryland: 
National Center for Health Statistics. 

Lawlor, J. (2004). Arizona court upholds wheelchair access 
regulations. American Planning Association, 70(3): 37. 

Search is underway for accord on Visitability'. (2004). New 
Urban News. October/November, 9, 7. 

Spegal, K., & Liebig, P. (2003). Visitability: Trends, ap- 
proaches, and outcomes. University of Southern Califor- 
nia: The National Resource Center on Supportive Hous- 
ing and Home Modification. 

Visitability: Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood Design ^3 

Smith, E. (2005). Activists call 'New Urbanism' to account 
over lack of visitability. Retrieved June 27, 2006, from 
http : //www. 

Truesdale, S., & Steinfeld, E. (2002). Visitability: An ap- 
proach to universal design in housing. Buffalo, NY: 
IDEA Center. 

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 
(1999). Housing our elders. Washington, DC: U.S. De- 
partment of Housing and Urban Development, Office of 
Policy Development and Research. 

End Notes 

1. This article is a reprint of Maisel, J. (2006). pp. 26-34 
.Toward Inclusive Housing and Neighborhood Design: A 
Look at Visitability. Community Development: Journal of 
the Community Development Society, 37, 3. 

2. Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access 
(IDEA Center), University at Buffalo, State University of 
New York ( 

3. Detailed spreadsheets of visitability initiatives and pro- 
posed programs and initiatives are regularly updated and 
available for download in multiple formats at http: //www. 

4. The group included members from AARP of Georgia, 
Atlanta Regional Commission, Concrete Change, Georgia 
Department of Community Affairs, the Governor's Council 
on Developmental Disabilities, Home Builders Association 
of Georgia, Shepherd Center, and the Statewide Independent 
Living Council of Georgia. 


Architecture and Spatial Cognition 

Universal Design, Architecture and 
Spatial Cognition without Sight 

Shohreh Rashtian 


The growing interest in Universal Design has produced many 
studies about modifying color, contrast, and glare to improve 
the accessibility of users with low vision and partial sight. 
However, spatial perception, spatial cognition, and navigation 
without sight need further study. Approximately 45 million 
people are blind worldwide; and the United States has more 
than 1.3 million people who are blind and 3.4 million people 
who are or have low vision (World Health Organization Pro- 
gram for the Prevention of Blindness and Deafness, 1997). 
This number will only grow as the population increases. 

Designers, managers, legislators, and decision makers need 
better information on the needs of people with visual impair- 
ment and blindness. This chapter addresses the importance of 
being aware of the design needs of people who are blind or 
have low vision. It presents background information about the 
differences among sensory systems in perceiving and learning 
the environment, discusses spatial learning and navigation aids 
for people who are blind or have low vision, and offers recom- 
mendations on how to improve designs for everyone. 

Differences Among Sensory Systems in Reporting Spatial 

To design environments and products usable for all people 
including people with severe visual impairment and blind- 
ness, designers should consider the fundamental differences 
among sensory systems in reporting spatial information. Vi- 
sion permits observation of a large area of space at one time 
from substantial distances. It enables an individual to com- 
prehend the image of an object and its location, distance, and 
direction Humans can identify color and brightness through 
vision. Through long experience in deriving information from 
auditory and tactual senses, people who are blind learn to re- 
late more effectively to non-visual aspects of their environment 



than do people who do not have vision loss. Thus, for people 
who have vision loss or sight impairments, the auditory and 
tactual system becomes an important source of perceptual in- 
put. Because hearing conveys the distant environment, it helps 
individuals to comprehend their surroundings and to recog- 
nize and locate some objects and events in their immediate sur- 
roundings. Using their auditory system, humans can estimate 
the distance and direction of sounds. The auditory system also 
provides echolocation. By using reflected sounds, echolocation 
helps one detect the presence or absence of a surface or object 
outside of one's path. The haptic (or touch) system provides in- 
formation only through proximal contact, but people cannot 
touch many things that they can see. They cannot reach some 
items, and other items are too delicate or dangerous to touch. 
The olfactory system detects the presence of odors, but it does 
not help much in locating the direction of the source. Also, 
few objects have distinctive odors. 

Challenges of Traveling and Spatial Learning without 

People who are blind code spatial relations through direct ex- 
perience by using a frame of reference, learning object to self 
and object-to-object spatial relationships while taking care to 
avoid hazards and overcome obstacles. 

Travelers without vision loss can overcome their disori- 
entation and resolve wayfinding problems by using multiple 
sources of information, such as signs, maps, street names, 
and directories. Lacking access to such information, travel- 
ers with vision loss face serious disadvantages and challenges, 
such as lacking the opportunity to preview information and to 
see distant landmarks and signage (Figure 3.1). 

Current Wayfinding and Navigational Supports for People 
with Severe Visual Impairment and Blindness 

Since the 1970s researchers have tried to create navigation and 
wayfinding supports for people with severe sight impairment. 
These supports include: 

• Mobility devices; 

• Accessible traffic signals; 

• Signage technologies; 

• Wayfinding technologies; 

"For the 
sight im- 
paired, the 
auditory andi 
tactual sys- 
tem becomes 
an important 
sources of 

Architecture and Spatial Cognition 


• Spatial learning supports; and 

• Tactile ground surfaces and environmental modifica- 


No Information on 
Tactile Reference 

Figure 3.1 Blind travelers need way finding cues 

Mobility devices, such as canes and electronic travel aids, 
seek to detect hazards and obstacles a few steps ahead of the 
individual using them. Accessible traffic signals inform users 
when they can cross safely at light-controlled intersections. 
U.S. communities have used various kinds of accessible traffic 
signals for years. 

Signage technologies include tactile and audible signs. Tac- 
tile signage, such as Braille signs, identify a particular space, 
but to read the sign the traveler must be near it, know where 
it is, find it, touch it, and read it. Only about 10 percent of 
people who are blind can read Braille. Furthermore, finding 
the room without having access to floor plan is very difficult. 
Researchers have developed new technologies for presenting 
text signs verbally. Remote, infrared, audible signage systems 
(trademarked as Talking Signs, TS, in the U.S.) are accepted 
by the ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. Developed by 
Eye Research Institute (William Crandall, Smith-Kettlewell 
original developers), this technology uses an infrared beam 
system. A portable receiver within range (variable) and aimed 
in the direction of a transmitter can pick up a speech message, 



transmitted directionally in a 56-degree cone. To receive the 
audible message, one must point the receiver toward the trans- 
mitter and be within the cone. 

For way finding technologies, several projects have explored 
global positioning system (GPS) applications to help people 
with visual impairments find their way around. 

Some researchers have worked on the development of 
GPS, MoBic system, Atlas Speak system; and Golledge and 
Klatzky created Personal Guidance System (PGS) to provide 
navigation assistance during outdoor travel. These systems de- 
termine the traveler's position and orientation in space, have a 
spatial database of the environment in which travel will occur, 
and have an interface which displays information to the user 
and allows the user to control the system. These systems sup- 
port outdoor and urban travel, but cannot help indoors. 

Moving through a building, one needs to have general lay- 
out information and a signage system to make appropriate spa- 
tial decisions, recognize choice points, use short cuts, survive 
in emergency situations, and resolve disorientation. People who 
are blind have to systematically search the perimeter of a room 
to learn a room's size and shape and to identify properties of 
features on the walls. Then, through a grid pattern search and 
right-angle turns, they locate objects and features in the room. 
This makes the direct exploration of a building very time con- 
suming. In many buildings, a person who is blind often does 
not have a chance to explore every room they enter, especially 
during a meeting in a public building; and unfamiliar areas 
present unknown hazards and obstacles that can make a di- 
rect search more difficult. Background noise and the lack of 
landmarks and cues add to the challenge of makes learning the 
layout of open and large areas. 

Communities use tactile warning surfaces on curb ramps 
and on the edges of rail platforms to assist blind persons in 
detecting hazards along their path. Tactile directional path 
surfaces assist and improve navigation in large open spaces; 
but once inside a building, users who have visual impairments 
need better access to information about its layout. 

Compared to printed information and maps, we have few 
tactile maps, and many of those available have problems: in- 
consistency with spatial cognition and wayfinding without 
sight, failure to recognize fundamental differences between 

any per- 
son mov- 
ing through 
a building 
needs to 
have general 
layout infor- 
mation and 
a signage 

Architecture and Spatial Cognition 1_ 

vision and touch, and the small percentage of the visually 
impaired population who can read Braille. The Nomad sys- 
tem (developed by Don Parkes at the University of Newcastle 
in Australia) eliminates the need for Braille labels or legends 
on tactile maps. Nomad Touch Blaster software and Nomad 
pressure sensitive pads and voice synthesizers run in conjunc- 
tion with IBM-compatible computers. The pad has a matrix 
of pressure sensitive addressable points, each of which relates 
to some information in spoken or digitized form. Points or 
groups of points representing features are programmed to gen- 
erate a tactile map that can appear in a pad that has 9600 ad- 
dressable points at a resolution of 5 mm. The pad can present 
the information for each point or area in synthesized speech 
or digitized sound. Tactile Audio Maps resolve the problem of 
reading Braille labels but still users need to use the tactile map 
on sensitive pads. As a result, static information about layout 
of the building on the tactile map is inconsistent with the way 
people learn the environment without the use of vision. 


To improve navigation for persons with visual impairments, 
we need a comprehensive knowledge of perception, cognition, 
and traveling behavior. Such knowledge, which has both theo- 
retical and practical value, can lead to improvements in the 
design of products and environments for use by everyone. Suc- 
cessful solutions will: 

• Have appropriate spatial representations for all, regard- 
less of degree of their vision, and 

• Incorporate tactile, audible, and feasible navigational 
reference points in buildings, and integrate tactile direc- 
tional guides in the flooring of large public places, such as 
lobbies, airports and metro stations. 


Universal Design in Public Transportation 

Universal Design in Public 
Transportation: "Segway" to the Future 
Sub theme: Safe, Seamless, and 
Dignified Community-based Public 

Katharine Hunter-Zaworski 


Universal design in public transportation is the basis for uni- 
versal access. In the U.S., accessible public transportation is a 
fundamental human right. This paper provides an overview of 
universal design principles as applied to public transportation. 
It introduces universal design issues for public transportation 
concepts, systems, and modes. Translink, the accessible multi- 
modal public transportation system in the city of Vancouver, 
B.C., illustrates the successful application of these concepts. 


Everyone needs accessible transportation for access to educa- 
tion, employment, and to live independently. As embodied 
in the U.S. Federal Civil Rights legislation (Americans with 
Disabilities Act, ADA, 1990), Americans have a fundamental 
right to accessible transportation. A fundamental challenge in 
the planning, design, and operation of accessible transporta- 
tion services is the accommodation of the diversity of human 
characteristics and abilities. Translink, an accessible, multi- 
modal transit system in Vancouver, B.C., illustrates a number 
of aspects of universal design in accessible transportation. 

All of us, the young, old, and in between, are users and 
beneficiaries of accessible transportation services. The added 
amenities associated with accessible transportation benefit all 
travelers. The National Center for Accessible Transportation 
(NCAT) has projects that are expanding the current under- 
standing of accessible transportation. Instead of considering 
stakeholders as people with disabilities, NCAT approaches 
problems from the perspective of abilities. In design solutions, 
NCAT does not merely satisfy the "customer requirements", in 
the common approach to design, such as the "house of qual- 
ity or quality functional deployment" but goes further to con- 



sider design for experience and emotion. (Ullman, 2003). This 
chapter reflects the holistic and broad approach to accessible 
transportation that is the central mission of the NCAT. 

Accessible transportation service has traditionally focused 
on providing transportation to individuals with obvious dis- 
abilities, such as people who use canes or wheelchairs. How- 
ever, many people who have hidden disabilities depend more 
on public transportation than those with visible disabilities. 
Some of these less visible disabilities include epilepsy, traumat- 
ic brain injury, or chronic fatigue syndrome. Also, people with 
sensory impairments such as low vision or blindness cannot 
drive their own vehicles. Individuals who are hard of hearing 
or deaf require travel information in visual rather than audible 
modes; and many people with disabilities travel with service 
animals that are essential to allow them to live and travel inde- 
pendently. Accessible transportation must accommodate these 

All people benefit from accessible transportation. Anyone 
who has traveled with a child in a stroller or with a bicycle 
or rolling luggage appreciates curb cuts, level boarding, and 
elevators. Absent-minded or distracted travelers benefit when 
travel information is presented in audible and visual formats. 

"All people 
benefit from 

Public Transportation 

All of the links on a trip chain (Figure 4.1) must be acces- 
sible for the total trip to be accessible. If any link is missing or 
broken, it is unlikely that an accessible trip can be completed 
successfully. The chain has twelve modules. Pre-trip informa- 
tion, reservations, and schedules must be available in acces- 
sible formats. The civil infrastructure for the total route and 
the transition to the vehicles must be accessible as well. Many 
modules are not related to infrastructure or vehicles, but are 
still important elements of an accessible trip. 

All accessible transportation systems have certain features 
that characterize the service and make it accessible. These fea- 
tures are discussed in terms of infrastructure, transport, and 
information systems. 


For any accessible transportation system the civil and 

Universal Design in Public Transportation 



Trip Planning t 

t'Kf-tnp information 

Trip Reservaiign 

Stop Station 

Real Time Travel 

Inform;! Unit 

Mode of Travel 
Vehicle type 

Hanr ftaylltgfi| 

"^Aicle Access 


Transfer to Whtde 

Scat/Mobility Aid 


On ftoattl Vehicle 

Real Time 

Transact from 
Vehldc Scat 

Deb* tit Vehicle 


Accessible H> 

Figure 4.1. Trip Chain Conceptual Model 

mechanical, or vehicle infrastructure must be barrier free. 
The civil infrastructure is often beyond the scope of public 
transportation providers because it is controlled by differ- 
ent agencies, such as a public works departments, airport 
authorities, or operating railroads. The infrastructure in- 
cludes interfaces and transition zones such as terminals, 
stops, stations, and the local areas around these facilities 
like side walks and right of way. Typically, public transpor- 
tation agencies are responsible for the design, procurement, 
and operation of the accessible vehicles that must interface 
with the civil infrastructure and facilities. The transition 
between the civil infrastructure and the vehicles presents 
a challenge. It is also the interface between a vehicle and 
a terminal; and it is often the broken "link" on the trip 
chain. Terminal designs must meet the Americans with 
Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for buildings, and 
many vehicles must meet similar guidelines for vehicles. 
The interface, or "gap", between a vehicle and a terminal is 
often a problem because it is a regulatory "black hole". The 
gaps between the infrastructure and vehicle are bridged by 
lifts, ramps, bridging plates, kneeling vehicles, gangways, 
or other devices specifically designed to "bridge the gap." 
The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guide- 
lines (ADAAG, US Access Board, 1998) for Transportation 
Vehicles provide specifications for this equipment. Howev- 


er, the operating environment of public transportation is harsh 
and these devices require regular and ongoing maintenance. 
Public transportation systems that have high ridership by peo- 
ple with disabilities usually have regular and intensive mainte- 
nance programs for their accessible transportation equipment. 
As a result, many of these transit agencies also have excellent 
maintenance and reliability records. 

Types of Accessible Transportation Systems 

This chapter discusses community-based surface modes of 
transportation in common use in North America. These in- 
clude urban public transportation provided by rubber-tired, 
steel-tired, or passenger ferry vehicles. Intercity public trans- 
portation modes include over the road bus (ORTB), passen- 
ger rail (e.g., Amtrak), and passenger ferry. Many large cities 
offer a variety of transportation modes, while others simply 
have one. The term "community" breaks down artificial silos 
of classification on public transportation. For example, New 
Jersey Transit provides statewide but community-based tran- 
sit. Senior center based dial-a-bus service in rural America also 
provides community-based public transit services. All of these 
systems provide public transportation to the communities that 
they serve. The community may be a large city or a rural coun- 
ty, but each public transportation system is characteristic of its 
community. Now consider the modes of service. 

Urban Public Transportation Modes 

Two basic types of service — fixed route-fixed schedule and de- 
mand responsive — define urban public transportation. Fixed 
route service is provided by rubber-tired vehicles such as buses 
or by steel-tired vehicles such as metro, light, or commuter rail. 
Demand responsive service is usually provided by rubber-tired 
vehicles that range from personal automobiles, accessible taxis, 
and vans to small and large buses. Several North American 
cities have passenger ferry services that fully integrate into ur- 
ban public transportation systems. They usually do not carry 
vehicles. Due to long-distance commutes in many regions, it is 
difficult to draw the line between urban public transportation 
and inter-city public transportation. In many places, urban 
public transportation modes provide service on route segments 
and trip lengths that inter-city public transportation modes 

Universal Design in Public Transportation 55 

provide in other parts of the world. 

Vehicle Accommodations 

Vehicle accommodations include design elements on the ve- 
hicles that insure the safety of all passengers, such as safe stair 
geometry, contrasting stair nosing, and strategically placed 
stanchions, hand rails, and grab bars. Good illumination is 
important as well, particularly in stairways. 

For vehicles with level boarding, design elements include 
wide aisles that permit transportable mobility aids to easily 
enter a vehicle and navigate the aisle to a securement location. 
Some vehicle design elements may increase the risks for semi- 
ambulatory passengers. For example, on transit buses the side- 
facing priority seats near the driver are dangerous for many 
older passengers because there are no stanchions for them to 
hold onto. Seats are often upholstered in easily maintained vi- 
nyl that can be slippery. Seat orientation is also important. 
Forward-facing or rear-facing seats provide more secure seat- 
ing for older passengers, but these seats may not be located 
near the operator, and passengers who are older or have a dis- 
ability may feel less secure. On rubber-tired vehicles, the in- 
terior should have hand holds and stanchions that provide a 
high level of contrast so that all passengers have something to 
grab onto in case of sudden speed changes. The floor surface 
and texture can also impact the ease of access to the vehicle. 
Slip-resistant, hard surfaces are recommended, and the use of 
carpet is strongly discouraged. Space should be provided for 
the safe accommodation of service animals. 

As for the safe securement, the type and level of securement 
depends on the size or mass of the vehicle and its operating 
environment. (Zaworski & Hunter-Zaworski, 2004). Smaller 
vehicles need more robust securement systems, due to the ac- 
celeration forces transmitted to and experienced by passengers. 
Large urban rail systems operating on an isolated guideway do 
not need any mobility aid securement systems. Mobility aid 
securement systems must accommodate a vast range of mo- 
bility aids, and also meet the needs of the particular vehicle 
and its operating environment. Smaller vehicles (particularly 
those with a gross weight of less than 15,000 pounds) should 
have passenger restraint systems for mobility aid occupants. 
Although personal restraints are recommended, certain physi- 


cal conditions may prevent their use, and some mobility aids 
cannot be safely secured by any commonly available secure- 
ment systems. However, most of these mobility aids can be 
accommodated by "docking type" securement systems, but 
these require a hardware interface that attaches permanently 
to the frame of a mobility aid. Mobility aid users who drive a 
vehicle while seated often use these docking systems. Anchor- 
age, Alaska is the only public transit system in the U.S. that 
uses docking type securement systems in regular fixed route 
operations. It has used it for ten years. With the advent of Bus 
Rapid Transit (BRT) in North America, rear-facing secure- 
ment compartments (Figure 4.2) are an option for mobility 
aids that cannot be secured by belts or straps. 

Figure 4.2. Rear-facing securement 

Rubber-Tire Vehicles 

Rubber-tire vehicles, used in public transportation range in 
size from small sedans providing demand responsive service 
to double-decked or articulated buses (long buses that bend 
in the middle) that can carry almost a hundred passengers. 
Several characteristics of rubber-tire vehicles pertain to acces- 
sible transportation. The vehicle mass affects the type and level 
of mobility aid securement and occupant restraint required. 
The smaller and lighter the vehicle the more robust the secure- 
ment and restraints system must be to offer adequate occupant 
protection. Massive transit buses, by virtue of their mass and 
power transmission systems, experience low acceleration forc- 
es. The operating environment also influences the level of mo- 
bility aid securement and occupant restraint required. Vehicles 
that operate on isolated guideways or in exclusive bus lanes 

Universal Design in Public Transportation 57 

have a more controlled operating environment than vehicles 
operating on congested urban streets, and thus do not face 
rapid accelerations or decelerations. Urban topography can 
also influence the options for mobility aid securement. 

Rubber-tire vehicles have high or low floors. Typically, 
an accessible rubber-tired vehicle is equipped with a lift or a 
ramp. Recently, there has been a trend towards the procure- 
ment of low-floor vehicles for their ease of use. However, in 
areas without sidewalks, the ramps deploy at angles that are 
often too steep for users of mobility aids to access the vehicles 
independently. Some low-floor vehicles also have difficulty on 
non-paved road surfaces, but this is rare in urban operating 
environments. Low-floor vehicles do not have steps, making 
boarding and deboarding faster and easier for everyone than 
with high-floor vehicles (King, 1998) Ramps on low-floor ve- 
hicles usually accommodate larger mobility aids than many 
lifts, but this can cause problems. Many of the larger mobility 
aids are wider as well as longer than the footprint of a "com- 
mon wheelchair." Even if these mobility aids can get up a 
ramp, many cannot get past a fare machine or maneuver to a 
securement station. In urban environments where the fleet in- 
cludes both high- and low-floor vehicles, passengers with large 
mobility aids are stranded because not all trip segments are 
served by the same type of accessible vehicle. 

Two disadvantages of accessible, high-floor vehicles are 
stairs at boarding and lifts. Many vehicles have a lift at the 
front of the bus that negates the use of stairs when it is de- 
ployed. The cycling of the lift and the time for securement 
and restraint add to the vehicle dwell time and detract from 
the on-time performance. Most lifts also limit the size of a 
mobility aid that can access a transit vehicle. Many high-floor 
and low-floor vehicles have a kneeling feature that reduces the 
height of the first step at boarding, but stairs present a bar- 
rier for many older passengers. High-floor vehicles are better 
equipped to operate in rural and unimproved areas where a lift 
may need to descend to the ground. 

The type of operating environment also influences the type 
of access to vehicles. Snowy part of Canada and Sweden have 
rear-door access to demand responsive vehicles. Unfortunately, 
this approach relegates mobility aid passengers to the "back 
of the bus," where they are further from the driver and ride 


behind the rear axle. The ride quality, particularly in small- 
er vehicles, is much better just over or behind the front axle. 
Since the enactment of the ADA in 1990, almost no research 
has been conducted on the dynamic characteristics of smaller 
vehicles (those less than 15,000 pounds GVW) in the United 

Demand-responsive public transportation can serve either 
the general public or only eligible individuals. While federal 
regulations deal with complementary paratransit service, most 
agencies have their own procedures for determining eligibility 
(Weiner, 1998). Many suburban and rural areas have demand- 
responsive service available to all, and some rural regions inte- 
grate it with a school bus service. Demand-responsive public 
transportation usually requires a user to plan ahead and reserve 
a trip. Many agencies still prioritize trips according to trip pur- 
pose, even though this is prohibited by the ADA. They do this 
to deal with their major supply and demand problems. 

Vanpools and carpools provide an option for many com- 
muters. In Washington and Oregon, vanpool organizations 
provide accessible vehicles when requested (King County 
Metro). Accessible taxis provide more spontaneous service, 
particularly after hours or for visitors and tourists. In Portland, 
Oregon the accessible taxi service is regulated to make sure 
that service is available and affordable. However, many large 
cities in the U.S. still do not have any accessible taxi service. 
In London, England the accessible taxis are purpose-built ve- 
hicles with ow floors, ramps, and securement systems. 

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is at the other end of the vehicle- 
size and operating spectrum. BRT includes rubber-tired vehi- 
cles, enhanced stations, and limited-use guideways or exclusive 
bus lanes, as well as the service amenities of light rail transit. 
There are a number of new vehicles that are being designed 
for BRT service, and they accommodate a variety of wheeled 
mobility aids, including segways, bikes, and strollers. Most 
of these new vehicles are articulated and have low floors that 
can accommodate three or more mobility aids. Rear facing se- 
curement compartments are being designed and procured for 
many of these vehicles These systems include a compartment 
that permits mobility aids users to travel facing the rear of the 
bus without being secured with belts or other devices. Rear- 
facing securement lets people travel independently and does 

Universal Design in Public Transportation 59 

not involve a vehicle operator (Rutenberg & Hemily, 2003). 
Many of the new BRT vehicles also include "cafe" type seating 
so other passengers can also travel in rear-facing seats. 

Steel-Tire Vehicles 

Steel-tire vehicles include streetcars, light rail, heavy rail, and 
commuter rail. Typically, electricity from an overhead wire 
powers a streetcar and light rail transit (LRT), both of which 
run on rails in the street. Their stations are on part of the side- 
walk area. Streetcars usually have a single car or unit, but are 
sometimes hitched into a "married" pair. LRT vehicles tend to 
be larger, and usually run in two-, four-, or six-car train sets. 
Many newer LRT systems have low-floor vehicles, while older 
systems run both high- and low-floor vehicles. The floor level 
influences the design of the stations. Some stations have mini- 
high platforms or wayside lifts to accommodate high-floor ve- 
hicles, but the trend is towards level boarding with low-floor 
vehicles. LRT systems run a mix of isolated guideway and on- 
street service, and the stations tend to have more amenities and 
nearly always include off-vehicle fare payment mechanisms. 

There are no clear distinctions between light and heavy 
rail. Sky train, which operates in Vancouver, B.C . uses light 
vehicles, but the system has all the features of a heavy rail sys- 
tem. A powered third rail provides the power, and the guide- 
way is completely isolated. Linear traction motors permit the 
system to operate on steeper slopes than traditional rail pro- 
pulsion systems because the motors "pull" the train along. In 
traditional rail systems the friction between the tire and rail is 
the limiting factor and restricts the grade or operating slope. 
Skytrain is similar to many systems that are completely com- 
puter controlled — there are no drivers on the vehicles. This 
type of control is only possible on systems that run on com- 
pletely separated guideways. Computer-controlled systems can 
operate with shorter headways and better energy efficiency 
than operator-controlled systems. Isolated guideways cost 
more to construct than on-street systems, but are more flexible 
and have fewer capacity constraints. There are also trade-offs 
between construction costs and long-term operational efficien- 
cies. Heavy rail urban systems run independently of street sys- 
tems. In cities with large underground networks, these systems 
can also run in bad weather or congested traffic conditions. 


Both LRT and heavy-rail, flxed-guideway systems also af- 
fect urban growth and development. Real estate values tend 
to increase within a quarter mile of stations, and decrease as 
the distance increases. In Toronto, Vancouver, and Portland, 
transit stations were catalysts for development and renewal. 

Commuter rail systems use electric or diesel engines and 
usually provide longer distance service than urban rail systems. 
These systems operate multiple-car trains with stations spaced 
miles apart. In the U.S. many of these systems share the rails 
with long-distance passenger rail and freight operations. Some 
of these vehicles are bi-level and provide a "business" class ser- 
vice with on-board amenities. The passenger rail section dis- 
cusses many of the similar features of commuter and inter-city 
rail. Stations that provide park-and-ride options for passengers 
are important for both urban rail and commuter rail service. 
Park-and-ride lots must provide accessible parking and acces- 
sible routes from parking to stations. Stations must be accessi- 
ble, and transition zones between platforms and vehicles must 
be bridged by ramps (Figure 4.3), lifts, or bridging plates. 

Figure 4.3. Bi-level vehicle with bridge ramp used by Sount 
Transit, Puget Sound, WA (Source: Paul Ryus). 

Information Systems for all Transport Modes 
The public information systems, fare machines, and safety 
and security amenities must be accessible to accommodate the 
needs of passengers with a spectrum of physical, sensory, and 
cognitive abilities (Figure 4.4). 

Universal Design in Public Transportation 


Passenger Ferry Service 

As many of the oldest and largest cities are major ports or har- 
bors or are located on waterways, many urban transportation 

Figure 4.4. Trimet's ticket machine is color coded for each 
step in the process (Source: Paul Ryus). 

systems include a passenger ferry service. For most commuter 
systems, ferry vessels only serve pedestrian traffic. Because 
many ferry vessels and docks were designed and built years 
ago, they are not particularly accessible. Newer systems are bet- 
ter (Figure 4.5), and many old systems have undergone major 
overhauls to become more accessible. Forces of nature, such as 
tides and weather, often affect the slope of gangways, making 
even the most accessible ferries a challenge, but most passenger 
vessels accommodate mobility aids. However, on older vessels 
with raised doorsills, many restrooms may not be accessible. 

Inter-city Public Transportation Modes 

Inter-city public transportation modes include over the road 
buses, passenger rail service, ferry service, and air transporta- 
tion. Typically, the vehicles and vessels are larger than those 
that provide urban public transportation, the stops are infre- 
quent, and the trip segments and trip lengths are much longer 
than those of urban public transportation. Inter-city public 
transportation includes amenities such as food service and 
on-board lavatories. The major issues for accessibility on these 
modes include boarding the vehicles, on-board circulation, ac- 
cessible on-board lavatories, access to amenities such as food 
service, on-board information and communication systems, 


Figure 4.5. Translink's Seabus, Vancouver, B.C. with high 
rise development surrounding the Seabus and Transit Ter- 
minal (Source: Paul Ryus). 

and safety and security procedures. 

Passenger Rail 

In the United States the accessibility of passenger rail de- 
pends on the vehicle and station design, and this varies re- 
gionally. The passenger rail vehicles that operate along the 
west coast differ from those in the northeast corridor. The 
rail vehicles on the west coast have newer stations, and most 
of them have low-level platforms. The "Cascades" service be- 
tween Eugene, OR and Vancouver, B.C. uses "Talgo" train 
technology developed in Spain. The train interiors are acces- 
sible, and the service works very well for many people with 
disabilities. Boarding ramps are mounted to the interior of the 
train vehicles; restrooms are spacious and meet the needs of 
many people with disabilities. Wayside lifts are used in west 
coast Amtrak stations to access the West Coast Starlight. On 
this bi-level train from southern California to Seattle, WA, ac- 
cessible accommodations are only available on the lower level, 
and many of the amenities, such as the dining car, are not 
available to passengers who use mobility aids. 

Long distance train service that has accessible overnight 
accommodation is available, but it must be booked in advance. 
People who use wheeled mobility aids tend to have limited ac- 
cess to amenities on trains. 

Universal Design in Public Transportation 


Over the Road Buses 

Over the road bus (OTRB) transport includes inter-city buses. 
For discussion purposes, the public transportation aspect of 
this industry includes only regularly scheduled service, not the 
large charter coach industry. Amtrak operates a thruway bus 
service across the country either directly or under contract. 
In Oregon and Washington, Amtrak operates a fleet of ac- 
cessible coaches, or thruway buses, that provide feeder service 
that interfaces directly with their mainline rail operations. The 
OTRB industry has adopted accessibility more slowly than 
many other modes. An accessible vehicle provides a lift at the 
front, middle, or rear (Figure 4.6). Most passengers prefer to 
transfer from their mobility aids to regular seats if they are 
able, but mobility aid securement is also provided. Passengers 
may also choose to travel in their own mobility aids. 

Figure 4.6. An over the road bus, with a lift deployed. 

Passenger Ferry 

Inter-city passenger ferries may or may not transport motor 
vehicles — it depends upon the size of the vessel, trip length, 
and destination. Passenger ferry service is essential for access- 
ing coastal communities. It should have accommodations for 
drivers and passengers who use wheeled mobility aids on ves- 
sels that carry motor vehicles and require or encourage passen- 
gers to leave their vehicles on board for the duration of their 
trips. This implies having accessible parking spaces that permit 
egress on either side of a vehicle and an accessible path to pas- 
senger amenities. Many older vessels have retrofitted elevators, 
and many newer vessels have accessibility features designed 



and built in. Many ships have raised door sills between exteri- 
or doors and interior space, and throughout the vessel. Raised 
door sills are being removed to make interior circulation spaces 
more accessible to all. Stairs and raised door sills are barriers 
for everyone. Passenger vessels are also being retrofitted or de- 
signed with accessible lavatories. New vessels often include ac- 
cessible unisex lavatories that meet the needs of families as well 
as individuals. Regulations for accessible accommodations on 
cruise ships and passenger ferries are still under development, 
so many vessels do not have ADA-compliant sleeping accom- 
modations. Individual agencies will try to accommodate pas- 
sengers with special needs, provided that passengers provide 
adequate advance notice. 

Community Public Transportation 

The term "community public transportation" crosses between 
the artificial silos and categorizations that are so prevalent in 
public transportation. Every community has characteristics 
that affect the type of public transportation that is available. 
Some result from local politics and attitudes, while others 
result from land use patterns, topography, and climate. The 
differences are important. Public transportation systems with 
strong community support often have high ridership or tax 
bond success. They also have strong and innovative programs 
for meeting the needs of transit- dependent passengers; and in- 
vest regularly in staff training and vehicle maintenance. The 
innovative agencies tend to try to go beyond what is required 
because "it is the right thing to do". 

All public transportation providers, whether they provide 
weekly senior bus service in a rural community or bus service 
in downtown New York, are facing ever-increasing challenges, 
including securing fuel for their vehicles; providing safe, se- 
cure, and affordable transportation; and operating within in 
the confines of local, state, and federal regulations. As fuel costs 
increase, the demand for public transportation will increase. 
For some agencies this will be the "tipping" point, while for 
others it will reaffirm their vital role in community life. 

New Design Paradigm 

The National Center for Accessible Transportation (NCAT) 
is the host of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center 

"Most of the 


agencies are 

those that 

try to go 

above and 

beyond what 

is required 

because 'it 

is the right 

thing to 


Universal Design in Public Transportation 65 

(RERC) for Accessible Public Transportation. RERC focuses 
on access challenges of inter-city public transportation. The 
NCAT team works on projects that influence the design of the 
next generation of vehicles. It moves beyond silos and catego- 
rizations in a number of aspects of design and looks at the ca- 
pabilities of the full human spectrum. This implies removing 
the "dis" from disability and developing new technologies that 
focus on capability and ability. The team also examines new 
design paradigms that go beyond merely satisfying customer 
or stakeholder needs to designs that also delight the user. 

Ideas into Action 

Good designs are a result of building consensus. Strong, re- 
spectful, and collaborative partnerships are essential to NCAT's 
design projects and most of its research activities. The design 
of accessible transportation vehicles and infrastructure re- 
quires finding solutions that may not be optimal but are based 
on consensus. Designs that favor one particular group of users 
may pose hazards for others. A prime example is a curb cut 
that does not include a detectable warning to provide informa- 
tion on the transition from a pedestrian to a vehicular environ- 
ment. There is general agreement that a detectable warning is 
necessary to help delineate the transition zone, but it should 
also be noted that the consensus that truncated domes provide 
the only solution does not exist. 

Case Study 

Vancouver, B.C. is a world class city that started planning, 
designing, and engineering a multi-modal accessible transpor- 
tation system in the early 1980s when the Provincial govern- 
ment mandated that the new urban rail system be barrier free. 
Sky train is one of the first systems designed and built to be 
barrier free. A coalition of stakeholders and politicians with 
disabilities decided to make Vancouver's new public buildings 
and transportation system accessible to all. The government 
made this decision before there were any national or interna- 
tional design guidelines or standards for accessible design, and 
the concept "barrier free" was not very well understood. The 
B.C. Building Code Part 10 for building accessibility was the 
one of the first and most progressive codes of its kind. The 
passenger ferry service called Seabus was updated to be more 



accessible. When Skytrain started revenue service in 1986, the 
City realigned a bus system that included both fixed-route and 
paratransit service to provide feeder service to Skytrain. In 
1986 the fixed-route bus system was not accessible, but the re- 
gion was served by an extensive network of paratransit opera- 
tors who provided feeder service to the stations when the use 
of Skytrain began to decrease travel time. As the fixed-route 
bus system also needed to be accessible, in 1990, the operat- 
ing company purchased new, large accessible buses. Initially 
this included lift-equipped, high-floor vehicles, but now all of 
the purchases are low-floor vehicles. Vancouver is one of the 
most accessible cities in the world as a result of progressive 
community attitudes. It did not become accessible because of 
regulations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or the 
Canadian Charter of Human Rights. It became accessible be- 
cause of the foresight of individuals with and without disabili- 
ties who required that new public buildings and the transit 
system be accessible. Interestingly, the mayor of Vancouver is 
a quadriplegic who uses a power wheelchair. In addition to 
the engineering aspects of the barrier-free system, the City 
developed public information and staff training programs to 
increase awareness and understanding of the needs of travelers 
with disabilities (Hunter-Zaworski, 1989). The consultant re- 
sponsible for the barrier-free design of Skytrain worked with a 
large team of engineers, architects, and planners who also sup- 
ported the mandate for a barrier-free system design. They of- 
ten had to make difficult decisions that were contrary to those 
of politicians, but the design team prevailed in favor of access 
for transit-dependent individuals and public safety. 

In 2005 Translink, the operating company of the multi- 
modal system, still strives for continuous improvement and has 
made a significant effort to identify and correct deficiencies to 
make a great system even better. Translink has engaged several 
consulting teams to evaluate the status of many aspects of the 
accessible transportation system. The teams reported (Nelson/ 
Nygaard. 2005) that the Vancouver's transportation system as 
still one of the most accessible in the world. The stakeholders 
and Translink staff are savvy, progressive, and working on ac- 
cessibility issues that most agencies do not even understand. 
Accessible transportation in Vancouver goes beyond transpor- 
tation facilities and vehicles. The Province of British Columbia 

"Vancouver \< 
system is still 
one of the 
most acces- 
sible in the 

Universal Design in Public Transportation 67 

has had a progressive building code for accessibility since the 
late 1970s. The public buildings built since the mid-1980s are 
designed to be accessible and barrier free. Twenty years after 
the start of service by Sky train, people with disabilities in Van- 
couver can live, travel, and work independently. Skytrain is so 
popular that the demand for mobility aid accommodation in 
the stations, elevators, and vehicles often exceeds capacity. No 
one imagined the opportunities that accessible transportation 
would provide for all of the residents and visitors in Vancouver, 
B.C. The integrated, multi-modal transportation system in the 
region is a showcase for universal design and access for all. 


Hunter-Zaworski, K. M. (1989, January). A Synopsis of 
Accessibility features of Skytrain - Vancouver's Rapid 
Transit System. ITE Journal, 23-27. 

King, R. D. (1998). TCRP Synthesis Report 41: New 
Designs and Operating Experiences with Low-Floor 
Buses, TRB, National Academies, Washington DC. 

Nelson/Nygaard. (2005, November). "Accessibility Status 
Report on Fleet and Facilities" prepared for Translink, 
Vancouver BC. 

Rutenberg, U., & Hemily, B. (2003). TCRP Synthesis 
Report 51: Use of Rear Facing Position for Common 
Wheelchairs on Transit Buses, A synthesis of transit 
practice, TRB, National Academies, Washington DC. 

Ullman, D. (2003). The Mechanical Design Process (3rd 
Edition), McGraw Hill. 

US Access-Board (1998). The American's with Disabilities 
Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Transportation 
Vehicles, Part 1192. 

Weiner, R. (1998). TCRP Synthesis Report 30 ADA Para- 
transit Eligibility Certification Practices, A synthesis of 
transit practice, TRB, National Academies, Washington 

Zaworski, J. R., & Hunter-Zaworski, K.M. (2004, Decem- 
ber) Assessment of Rear Facing Wheelchair Accom- 
modation on BRT Vehicles. IDEA Project T-38 Final 
Report, National Academies, Washington DC. 


Planning for Senior Housing Needs 


As Your County Gets Older. . .Planning 

for Senior Housing Needs 

in Howard County, Maryland 

Stephen Lafferty 


Howard County, Maryland, located between Washington, 
DC and Baltimore, has a median age of less than 35 years, but 
by 2030, 31 percent of the population will be over 55 years 
old. As a result, the county studied the needs for and provision 
of housing for older residents. In 2004, this yielded a Senior 
Housing Master Plan. Working with an advisory group of resi- 
dents, developers, and advocates, county officials crafted a re- 
port and a set of recommendations to create more units, assist 
older residents as they age in place, and address the need for af- 
fordable units. Two key concepts wove through the discussion: 
access to needed services and the principles of universal design. 
This chapter describes the issues, recommendations, and status 
of efforts to provide more senior housing in the county. 

Approximately 70 percent of older county residents express 
the desire to "age in place." New efforts are needed to support 
their desire and also to ensure a supportive community. Modi- 
fications, renovations, and assistance are needed to help seniors 
remain in their communities. 

While Howard County is a hot housing market for fami- 
lies, new, often smaller units are needed for aging residents. 
Fostering the development of senior housing units through 
new zoning regulations, attention to compatibility, and differ- 
ent types of units was examined. Howard County has also ad- 
opted universal design guidelines for the construction of new, 
age-restricted housing. 

The greatest challenge is to create affordable units in a 
county with an average unit price of $450,000. The county 
is reconsidering density, housing unit allocations, and the use 
of its zoning regulations and new financing mechanisms to 
underwrite the cost of affordable units. 


Good planning brings vision, experience, and the successes and 



failures of others together with the realities of the community, 
but good planning alone is not sufficient to address the needs 
of a changing jurisdiction such as Howard County, MD: afflu- 
ent, highly educated, dynamic, well located, and aging. 

How can a local government take on the challenge of 
meeting the housing needs of older adults? Howard County 
has many older residents who were tied to agriculture and a 
more rural life, as well as Columbia, Maryland "pioneers" who 
settled in that model community 35-40 years ago to join a 
more diverse, open, and creative community building. There 
are wealthy "active" adults, low-income seniors living in tax 
credit funded buildings, and thousands of older residents ag- 
ing in place. Much of this chapter uses 2004-2005 data. 

Howard County undertook its first Senior Housing Mas- 
ter Plan in 2004. It brought to the surface many critical issues, 
fostered discussions among groups that were not necessarily 
talking with each other, and led to important recommenda- 
tions. The master plan is not radical, yet it raised some serious 
concerns with the County Council. What seemed like a basic 
endorsement resolution led to a delay, further discussion, and, 
finally, modified language that said that the recommendations 
of the plan would be "considered." 

The master plan illustrates how the concepts and tools as- 
sociated with universal design are translated at the planning 
and implementation stages. Lessons and strategies can be tak- 
en from the development of this Senior Housing Master Plan. 

Howard County is a relatively small county that is located 
between the Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan ar- 
eas. It has a young population of approximately 275,000 peo- 
ple with a median age of less than 35 years old. It is the third 
wealthiest county in the nation, with an annual household 
median income of over $90,000. It has the highest performing 
school system in the state of Maryland, a major factor in at- 
tracting and retaining families. 

Geographically, the western and eastern parts of the coun- 
ty are divided by what is known as the Public Service Area 
boundary, with 40 percent of the land located in the rural west 
and 60 percent of the land in the east and serviced by sewer 
and water. However, approximately 84 percent of the residents 
live in the east. Columbia, the renowned planned community 
of the late James Rouse, has a population of approximately 

"The master 
plan illus- 
trates how 
the concepts 
and tools as- 
sociated with 
design are 
translated at 
the planning 
and imple- 
stages." • 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs Zi 

100,000 people and was the impetus, 40 years ago, for the 
transformation of the county from its rural, agricultural roots 
to a more suburban community. 

Howard County's population is aging. Over the next 25 
years the over-55 age group is predicted to increase by more 
than 46,000 people, rising from 19 percent to 31 percent of 
the total population. At the same time the number of County 
residents aged 20 to 54 is expected to remain relatively level, 
at about 140,000 persons, while decreasing from 52 percent 
to 44 percent of the County's population. This growth in the 
older population mirrors similar changes throughout the Bal- 
timore metropolitan region and the nation. 

The shift to an older population will affect both every area 
of life in the county and county government programs and 
policies. In late 2003, the Howard County government initi- 
ated a Senior Housing Master Plan to examine one of the most 
significant areas of concern — the provision of adequate and 
affordable housing for older adults. 

The need for a Senior Housing Master Plan was raised 
during public hearings on the county's 2004 Comprehensive 
Zoning Plan. As zoning amendments concerning senior hous- 
ing were discussed, it became evident that other planning tools 
were needed to address the demand for new housing for older 
adults while maintaining the county's existing stable commu- 
nities. Additionally, the County Office on Aging saw an in- 
creased need to support and assist seniors who wanted to age 
in place. 

The initial workgroup on Senior Housing included repre- 
sentatives from the Commission on Aging, the Office on Aging, 
the Department of Planning and Zoning, the Department of 
Housing and Community Development, and the Department 
of Inspections, Licenses, and Permits. The workgroup found 
that the issues went beyond the development regulations for 
new housing. The county's housing stock, existing and future, 
needed to be evaluated in light of major demographic changes 
and the scarcity of land available for new construction. 

The issues, questions, and data generated by the work- 
group were presented to an advisory committee of represen- 
tatives from the community and the development industry, 
advocates, organizations representing seniors, and county of- 
ficials. The advisory committee met in the spring and sum- 


mer of 2004 to study and discuss this difficult topic. Three 
subgroups developed recommendations related to existing 
housing, new construction, and affordability. The committee's 
recommendations were reported in the plan. In addition to the 
recommendations that will be described in this chapter, it is 
understood that the Howard County Senior Housing Master 
Plan will need to be revisited periodically. This periodic review 
will evaluate the effectiveness of the Plan's strategies in light of 
new market conditions and demographic data, the success in 
implementing the recommendations, and the ability to imple- 
ment the Universal Design criteria. 

Purpose of the Howard County Senior Housing Master 

The county's housing needs are changing due to the aging of 
its population and the serious challenge of affordability. Most 
of Howard County's housing has been built since 1970, and it 
is designed, primarily, for families with children. This reflects 
the market demands caused by the county's rapid growth as a 
suburban community. The older subdivisions have lots rang- 
ing from 8,000 square feet to an acre. Newer developments 
are being built with very large homes (i.e., an average of 3,500 
square feet) on these and smaller lots. Although many "empty 
nesters", or retirees, continue to live in the homes in which they 
raised their families, the changing demographics suggest the 
need for housing developments or individual units designed 
for older adults. 

The terms "older adults" and "seniors" are used inter- 
changeably in this chapter to refer to persons 55 years of age 
and older. This is not intended to imply that this is a homo- 
geneous population. The over-55 population includes persons 
still in the workforce, retirees, and adults in full health as well 
as frail elderly. Many prefer to remain in their homes, while 
others look for new housing with single-level living areas and 
lower maintenance requirements. Some seniors seek out "ac- 
tive adult" housing developments that are restricted to persons 
older than 55. Seniors with health or mobility limitations may 
seek out units accessible for wheelchairs and walkers such as 
assisted living or a nursing home, or they may decide to stay in 
place with in-home assistance. 

In developing the Senior Housing Master Plan, it was rec- 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs Zr. 

ognized that Howard County's housing stock must evolve to 
meet the needs of an older population or the county will lose 
more of its long-time residents as they age and are compelled 
to look for housing opportunities outside of the county. If this 
population is lost, the county will lose family and community 
ties and the energy that fuels many volunteer-based organiza- 
tions. It will also lose an important part of its tax base and 
other assets derived from the experience, diversity, and stabil- 
ity of older adults. 

The development industry has been responding to a chang- 
ing market demand for more housing choices. During the past 
ten years, the county has seen an increase in the number of ac- 
tive adult housing developments, senior apartment buildings, 
and assisted living facilities. However, county regulations and 
policies have not encouraged greater diversity in new housing 
products or modifications that make the existing housing stock 
suitable for older residents. The following sections describe the 
implementation challenges the county faced in meeting the 
needs of the county's aging population. 

Master Plan Goals 

The Senior Housing Master Plan sought to identify the prob- 
lem areas, set strategies, and develop recommendations to en- 
sure an adequate supply of safe, decent, and affordable housing 
for the older adults in Howard County. This grew from the 
Howard County's General Plan 2000, the county's blueprint 
for the future. The General Plan has three areas that estab- 
lish policies affecting the housing stock needed to serve older 
adults: 1) Provide housing for older adults within stable, at- 
tractive communities through maintenance, renovation, and 
modification of existing homes; 2) Produce new housing that 
meets the needs of older adults and enhances existing neigh- 
borhoods; and 3) Provide affordable and diverse housing to 
meet the needs of the senior population. 

Key Concepts 

The master plan work group determined that, additionally, 
there were two concepts of pervasive importance to each of 
the three areas identified above. These concepts, the provision 
of services and universal design, were incorporated into each 
section of the plan as goals. 


Provision of Services. Provide adequate and convenient access to 
services for all of the county's older adult residents. Appropri- 
ate housing cannot exist without needed services — retail and 
service businesses, medical and health care services, transpor- 
tation, recreation, cultural and religious activities, and others. 
Seniors with good health and adequate incomes will find the 
services they need, driving longer distances or paying higher 
costs if needed. However, seniors with limited mobility, health 
problems, or limited incomes will have greater difficulty ob- 
taining services and are more likely to experience declining 
health or diminished quality of life. The population growth 
will have a huge impact on hospital and other medical services, 
transportation, and community services. If essential services 
are not available within their communities, seniors may need 
to be uprooted. 

The Senior Housing Master Plan focused on housing, not 
the availability of services; however, it does point to the need 
for coordination of services and housing. The county acknowl- 
edges this need, in small part, by requiring the provision of a 
community center and recreational facilities in age-restricted 
communities and the location of transit routes. The State also 
recognizes the importance of this linkage when it rates and 
ranks applications for tax credits for developing senior hous- 

Universal Design. Create new housing using universal design 
principles and modify existing housing to incorporate as many 
elements of universal design as possible. Universal design is the 
design of products and environments so that they are usable by . 
all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for 
adaptation or specialized design. The intent of universal design 
is to simplify life for everyone by making products, commu- 
nications, and the built environment more usable by as many 
people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design 
benefits people of all ages and abilities. 

General Plan 2000 recognized the importance of universal 
design in housing constructed for older adults. Since 2001, 
the county zoning regulations have required that all new, age- 
restricted housing units incorporate elements of universal de- 
sign. Guidelines were adopted that identify required, desirable, 
and customized items to be included. 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs 


The plan does not directly propose strategies for enhanc- 
ing or increasing service linkage. Neither does it present a full 
discourse on or action plan for increasing the use of universal 
design. However, the plan and its implementation fully recog- 
nize the importance of both in addressing the housing needs 
in Howard County. 

"five types 
of senior 
ties are: age 
living, con- 
tinuing care 
ties, assisted 
living, and 
nursing fa- 

Existing Housing 

New homes designed and built for older adults will be only a 
small portion of the housing needed to meet the needs of the 
aging population. The existing housing stock, most of which 
was designed for younger families, will continue to provide the 
housing for most of the county's older residents. 

At the end of 2003, Howard County had 1,866 senior 
apartments or age-restricted (55+) active adult developments. 
In addition, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and a con- 
tinuing care community provided 2,248 beds. By contrast, 
the county's total housing stock was 97,782 units. 

According to the Maryland Department of Planning's 
Projections in 2000, Howard County is expected to have 
more than 63,800 persons who are 55 or older by 2010. Hous- 
ing construction in the county is limited by growth manage- 
ment regulations to about 1,750 units per year. This includes 
an annual set-aside allocation of 250 units for age-restricted 
housing. Even if a substantial portion of the new housing is 
designed for seniors, it will accommodate only a small portion 
of the senior population. Most seniors will continue to live in 
existing housing. 

Howard County has five types of senior housing commu- 

• Age-restricted Adult Housing: These are developments of 
independent dwelling units with full kitchens that are designed 
for and restricted to households having at least one member 
who is 55 years of age or older. Age-restricted adult housing 
may include related facilities or services for residents, such as 
social, recreational, or educational facilities and housekeeping, 
security, transportation, or personal services. 

• Independent Living: These are apartment buildings that 
provide housing for older adults and disabled individuals able 
to perform all of their own activities of daily living. Services 
are not provided within these buildings but may be brought 


into them to enable individuals to age in place. 

• Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC): Also 
known as Life Care Communities, these offer independent liv- 
ing facilities as well as assisted living units (see below) and 
skilled nursing care. 

• Assisted Living: This is a program that provides housing 
and supportive services, supervision, personalized assistance, 
health-related services, or a combination of these services to 
meet the needs of residents who are unable to perform, or who 
need assistance in performing the activities of daily living. 

• Nursing Facility: These are facilities that offer non-acute 
inpatient care to patients suffering from a disease, condition, 
disability or advanced age, or terminal disease that requires 
maximal nursing care without continuous hospital services 
and medical services and nursing services rendered by or under 
the supervision of a licensed nurse. 

Aging In Place 

"Aging in place" refers to the ability to remain in one's home or 
neighborhood as long as possible and to be in control of those 
decisions which impact one's life. Surveys consistently show 
that most seniors prefer to stay in their familiar homes and 
neighborhoods. Developing and supporting programs that al- 
low residents to age in place is good public policy for Howard 
County. Such programs enable more of the county's long-term 
residents to remain in the county, and provide for the contin- 
ued use and maintenance of the county's existing housing as 
the population grows older. The Office on Aging's 2001 study 
of aging in place affirmed this goal of assisting all who want to 
stay in their homes and/or neighborhoods. 

Most of the county's over-55 residents are homeowners, of- 
ten living in homes with multiple levels and large yards. When 
older homeowners have physical limitations, home modifica- 
tions and resources available in the community can make the 
difference between staying in a familiar home and neighbor- 
hood or moving. To help people age in places of their choice, 
the plan recommended strategies to address both the physical 
features of housing and the services needed in the commu- 

In 2001, the Office on Aging's Study of Demographics 
and Needs of the Senior and Middle Age Populations (REDA) 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs Z_ 

found that 70 percent of the county's older adults want to re- 
main in or near their homes and 49 percent of those 60 and 
over express a need for home repairs. As a result, the office 
launched an Aging in Place Initiative to find creative ways to 
enable seniors to stay in the environments that they choose, 
to obtain services in their homes, or to move to other homes 
that can be more accommodating. The program provides the 
following: 1) Home visits and assessments by an occupational 
therapist or retrofit specialist to help senior homeowners de- 
termine the modifications that can be made to their homes 
to ease living with physical limitations; 2) Assistance finding 
and contracting with a contractor for home repairs or modi- 
fications; 3) Grants to cover the cost of labor and materials 
for repairs and modifications (funded with Community De- 
velopment Block Grant funds) for low- or moderate-income 
homeowners, both seniors and those with disabilities; 4) A 
partnership between the Office on Aging and Rebuilding To- 
gether (previously Christmas in April), a community volunteer 
organization that does home repairs and modifications funded 
through the Community Development Block Grant program; 
and 5) Referrals to sources providing in-home health care and 
assistance, including a partnership with a service provider that 
uses sliding scale fees based on income. 

Neighborhoods have natural cycles that correspond to the 
age or stage in life of their homeowners. Most Howard County 
neighborhoods of single-family detached homes were origi- 
nally settled by young families. Many of Howard County's 
subdivisions are now neighborhoods with a high proportion 
of older residents. A term frequently used to describe simi- 
lar communities throughout the country is Naturally Occur- 
ring Retirement Communities, or NORCs, defined as "seniors 
living independently residing in a facility or geographic area 
where more than 50 percent of the residents are over age 65." 
The Maryland legistlature passed a bill to establish a commis- 
sion to look at NORCs. Nationally, 27 percent of seniors liv- 
ing independently reside in a facility or geographic area where 
more than 50 percent of the residents are over 65. Over time, 
these neighborhoods often cycle back to being home to young 

Although the senior population is distributed throughout 
the county, several areas show especially high concentrations. 



The 2000 Census indicates that the Ellicott City region in 
the east, older villages of Columbia, and the western commu- 
nities of West Friendship and Clarksville have relatively high 
concentrations of residents 65 or older. NORCs are likely to 
be found in these areas, as well as in communities in the east 
along the Route 1 corridor. These natural concentrations of se- 
niors suggest that services such as transportation, home repair 
and modifications, and in-home health services are needed. 
The county currently has senior centers that serve all of the 
areas except Clarksville. Understanding NORCs assists in 
implementing the recommendations for referrals and informa- 
tion to connect older residents with the resources available in 
their communities. 

Howard County 

2000 Population 
By Age 

C23 >(«•» numa carte 
H M nm HMMM 
gg| mmwtriiJBii 
la K»»M *ttiW*tt 
f*"l f s» » «» modem 

Howard County 

2000 Population 
By Age 


[ 1 ummwrn 

Figures 5.1 and 5.2. 2000 Population by age, 60 to 74 year 
old, and 75 and over (Source: Howard County, MD). 

Home Repairs, Renovation, and Modification 

The county's existing housing stock is aging. Older adults 
who have limited mobility will have increased prob- 

Plannin g for Senior Housing Needs 


lems performing home maintenance tasks themselves. 
As costs increase and seniors' incomes stay the same, 
many will have more difficulty paying for basic maintenance 
and repairs. The seniors who have limited incomes are most 
likely to remain in older homes that will need the most exten- 
sive repairs. Those who are able to move often seek communi- 
ties where they have little, if any, maintenance or responsibil- 

A 2001 survey, reported in the 2002 Study of Demograph- 
ics and Needs, found that older county residents had a need for 
assistance with home repairs and home or yard maintenance, 
particularly in finding and selecting contractors. However, it is 
very difficult to find professionals to take on small jobs needed 
for individual home maintenance. Some older homeowners 
need help with the process of contracting With a handyman or 
contractor. Older homeowners might be accustomed to doing 
these jobs themselves or may be faced with the need to take 
on tasks that a recently disabled or deceased spouse previously 

Much of the existing housing does not allow for safe and 
easy movement or access for those with physical limitations. In 
many cases, modifications are necessary. Some modifications 
are limited and relatively inexpensive, such as constructing 
sidewalks and ramps for access, widening doorways, replacing 
door handles, or adding grab bars to bathrooms. Other, more 
complex options could include creating complete living units 
on one level by adding rooms or installing bathrooms, install- 
ing elevators, or remodeling kitchens to be usable by those in 
wheelchairs. Modifications can be quite expensive. The Of- 
fice on Aging provides home visits, assessments, and, in some 
cases, financial assistance to modify houses to allow aging in 
place. In addition, the National Association of Homebuilders 
(NAHB) has begun to certify contractors as "Certified Aging 
in Place (CAP) Specialists". Contractors receive training and 
take continuing education courses to receive the certification. 
NAHB reports that the Maryland program is small, with just 
31 CAP Specialists. Its expansion holds promise for addressing 
the challenges of using the existing housing stock for an older 
population. There are five specialists in Howard County. 

Unfortunately, the county's Office on Aging has limited 
resources to help seniors get home repair work done or to help 

"Much of 
the existing 
housing does 
not allow for 
safe and easy 
or access for 
these physi- 
cal limita- 


finance the repairs. There is a small home modification pro- 
gram, and the county's non-profit Rebuilding Together pro- 
gram also provides some support. Fortunately, since Howard 
County has numerous resources, volunteers, service and faith 
organizations, homeowners, and community associations, the 
potential exists to multiply these services. 

Universal design principles provide valuable guidance in 
home renovation to allow one to age in place. Homeowners do 
not need to wait until they are elderly or have limited mobility 
before incorporating universal design features into their home 
renovations. Community education about the benefits of uni- 
versal design could encourage young, middle-aged, or active 
senior homeowners to use these principles when designing ad- 
ditions or undertaking renovations. A housing stock that has 
universal design features can increase options for many county 
residents or potential residents, especially older adults. 

Accessory Apartments 

Accessory apartments are one option for making existing 
single-family homes more usable for older residents. Acces- 
sory apartments can be created by converting part of a home 
into an apartment or by building an addition to a home to 
accommodate an apartment. Senior homeowners may create 
an accessory apartment for themselves, while younger family 
members live in the remainder of the house. Senior homeown- 
ers may also create an apartment and rent it for additional in- 
come or have a younger family member live in the apartment, 
providing support and companionship. Homeowners may also 
create an accessory apartment as a home for an aging parent 
or relative. 

The zoning regulations allow homeowners to create ac- 
cessory apartments in single-family detached homes in most 
residential districts, with approval of a building permit. The 
house must be owner-occupied and the accessory apartment 
no larger than 800 square feet in floor area, or no more than 
one-third of the floor area of the dwelling. An apartment larger 
than these limits can be approved as a conditional use. Given 
the county's need to diversify its housing stock for a changing 
population, and given the size of many of the county's single- 
family homes, the size limit of 800 square feet is no longer 
appropriate and needs to be increased. A proposal in the 2005 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs °I 

Comprehensive Zoning process would have increased the 
maximum square footage, but that change is held up due to a 
citizen's referendum. 

Assisted Living, Nursing Facilities, and Community-Based 

In 2004 Howard County had 88 assisted living facilities and 
two nursing homes that together provided 1,954 beds. One 
continuing care community provides independent living units, 
assisted living, nursing care and has an additional 294 beds. 

In early 2004 the large assisted living facilities in the coun- 
ty, ranging in size from about 50 to almost 300 beds, were 87 
percent occupied, while the small facilities, accommodating 
from four to 16 seniors, were at 73 percent of capacity. One of 
the nursing homes was at 92 percent of capacity. 

Based on the number of available beds, the supply of as- 
sisted living and nursing care beds appears to be sufficient. 
The State of Maryland has indicated this much, since it will 
not allocate any additional beds to Howard County. However, 
low- and moderate-income seniors who would benefit from an 
assisted-living arrangement are not always able to afford these 
facilities. The Office on Aging administers State and Coun- 
ty funds to help make assisted living facilities affordable for 
low-income seniors. In fact, Howard County is one of the few 
counties in Maryland that contributes county funds to supple- 
ment the State subsidy. Unfortunately, based on the number of 
applications made to the Office on Aging, the available funds 
do not meet the current need. The unmet need for assisted 
living placement among low- and moderate-income seniors is 
a concern that must be monitored as the senior population 

Maryland's Older Adult Medicaid Waiver provides an al- 
ternative to Medicaid-funded nursing home care for seniors. 
The Waiver allows funds to be used for home modifications 
and in-home care or for placement in an assisted-living facility 
for persons who would otherwise have no alternative to nursing 
home care. At this time, Maryland is not funding the program 
for new applicants. Expanded funding should be advocated to 
provide seniors with alternatives to nursing home care. 


Program and Policy Recommendations 

Based on the principles, concerns, and facts applicable to the 
county's existing housing, the master plan laid out specific rec- 
ommendations. The County Office on Aging has the primary 
responsibility for coordination and implementation of most of 
these recommendations. In a few areas, the Departments of 
Inspections, Licenses, and Permits or Planning and Zoning 
are the lead agencies. 

The Plan proposed short-, mid-, and long-term recom- 
mendations. The short-term recommendations included: 1) 
Expand the Office on Aging's capacity to provide consultation 
and guidance to older homeowners who need home repair, 
maintenance, renovation, or modification services; 2) Develop 
partnerships with community groups, local businesses, gov- 
ernment agencies, real estate specialists, contractors, service 
organizations, and faith organizations to educate about and 
provide maintenance needs; 3) Create, maintain, and dissemi- 
nate a list of individuals or businesses able to provide home 
maintenance and repair and lawn/landscape maintenance; 4) 
Educate consumers about universal design in home renova- 
tion, remodeling, and expansion projects, emphasizing the 
benefits for all; 5) Promote an increase in the number of local 
Certified Aging in Place Specialists; 6) Increase the size of ac- 
cessory apartments allowed, by right, within owner-occupied, 
single-family detached dwellings; and 7) Streamline proce- 
dures for approving building permits for renovations, repair, 
and modifications. 

In the next five years, it recommended incentives, such as 
property tax credits or abatements, for renovations that meet 
universal design standards. 

It also had the following specific long-term recommenda- 
tions related to the county's assisted living, nursing facilities, 
and community-based services: 1) Assess whether there are suf- 
ficient assisted-living facilities in the community, particularly 
those that are affordable to low and moderate income seniors 
and 2) Maintain advocacy for public funding for the Medic- 
aid Waiver for Older Adults program to support community- 
based living. 

New Housing 

Howard County has a limited supply of land remaining for 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs 2£_ 

new development. Based on the current zoning regulations, 
build out is expected by 2030. The demand for housing in 
the county is high, and most types of housing built will sell 
without difficulty. It is important that the remaining, limited 
land be used to provide housing that will meet the needs of the 
changing population and not detract from the county's exist- 
ing communities. 

Most housing being produced for older adults is built 
under the zoning provisions for active adult housing. Only a 
small amount of senior housing is being produced in zoning 
districts allowing multifamily development. At least two hous- 
ing developments in the county are "senior by design," having 
no legal restrictions to limit them to older adults, although the 
units are designed for and being purchased by seniors. 

Howard County remains a hot housing market for fami- 
lies. Most of the single-family detached and attached dwellings 
being built have two to three floors and are not designed to be 
easily accessible, except for the small proportion of attached 
dwellings in active adult communities. Most new apartment 
developments are garden apartments without elevators, and 
they provide few units accessible to persons with limited mobil- 
ity. Given the expected increase in the older population, what 
should the county do to encourage a greater percentage of new 
housing be designed for seniors? The master plan looked at 
current regulations and recommended a number of changes. 

Growth Management System 

Howard County has had an Adequate Public Facilities Ordi- 
nance (APFO) since 1992. This is a critical tool for directing 
growth to areas with adequate infrastructure and for pacing 
the rate of growth and development. Prior to adopting the 
APFO, the county was averaging more than 3,000 housing 
units per year. Under our current standards, 1,750 allocations 
are available annually, with build out expected by 2030. Hous- 
ing unit allocations are the first step towards construction of 
homes in the county. By limiting the number of allocations, 
the county has slowed "build out." Slowing the growth allows 
the county to better manage and provide the required infra- 
structure. However, it is also a significant factor in the rapidly 
escalating costs of housing. The cost of housing in Howard 
County has nearly doubled in the last five years, going from a 



toward County 

■i 3-9.»«C«S 
H 13 «»KM5 
■ ?• «J9*CR£S 




Pjpretstinii* £*n 

Figures 5.3 and 5.4. Uncommitted residential parcels in 
the West and the East. 

median sales price of $236,421 in 2000/01 to $417,627 in 
2005 (Development Monitoring System Report, Jan. 2006). 
Single-family attached and condominium units have increased 
the fastest. There were over 6,900 home sales in 2005. 

Housing for older residents is encouraged through a set- 
aside of 250 units per year out of the total allowed allocations 
in the eastern portion of the county. The requests are placed 
in line in the order they were approved to receive the available 
housing allocations. Senior housing plans, at a rate of up to 
250 units per year, are given immediate approval. After the 
250-unit set-aside is used, plans for senior housing must com- 

"Part of 
the boon in 
creating age- 
housing is 
the 'test' for 
school ca- 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs 2r_ 

pete for allocations with other submissions, although these 
plans still have an advantage in that they can be built in areas 
where the county schools are over capacity. The "schools test" 
has had a major impact on closing out non- age-restricted de- 
velopment in three Planning Areas. 

Part of the boon in creating age-restricted housing is avoid- 
ing the "test" for school capacity. Developers have been able to 
move ahead, providing an added benefit for older residents. 
In 2005 484 age-restricted units were built; over 700 units 
were approved from October 2004 to September 30, 2005; 
and as of September 2005 nearly 1200 units were proposed in 
development plans in process. However, while the number of 
units may seem impressive, it cannot meet the demands of the 
growing population. It should also be noted that age-restricted 
communities are, generally, being occupied by active adults 
between the age of 58 and 62. These communities are too new 
to determine the average length of stay. 

Zoning Regulations 

Since the 2000 General Plan was adopted, several provisions 
have been added to the zoning regulations to encourage the 
construction of age-restricted housing. This is housing for 
households with at least one member who is 55 years of age 
or older and no permanent household members who are less 
than 18 years of age. The new regulations recognize the lesser 
impacts of senior housing on a community due to the smaller 
average household size and the lack of school- age residents. 
These regulations replaced older ones dealing with senior hous- 
ing. The need for the new regulation was immediately evident 
as developers seized on the new opportunity in early 2001. 
Since the adoption of the regulations, nine active adult hous- 
ing developments have been built, with a total of 871 units. 
Nearly 2,000 more units in sixteen developments have been 
approved or in process since that time. 

All age-restricted development must incorporate universal 
design elements, provide at least ten percent of the units as 
Moderate Income Housing Units, provide an indoor commu- 
nity space, and have covenants that limit the units to sale or 
rental by older adults. Those plans submitted after March 2001 
for conditional uses and after April 2004 for the Planned Of- 
fice Research (POR) zoning district are also required to have 


universal design features. Under the Howard County Zoning 
Regulations, age-restricted housing is allowed in residential 
zoning districts as a conditional use. This use allows detached, 
attached, and apartment units at a greater density than the 
underlying zoning. 

In most districts the conditional use allows about twice ^u^lo li- 

the number of dwellings permitted without the conditional er S want 

use. Conditional use requirements include perimeter setbacks homes that 
and at least 35 percent open space. The Planned Senior Com- are j^ much 
munity (PSC) District allows age-restricted housing, assisted n tVmn 

living facilities, and nursing homes. It is a floating district that 

the ones 

allows moderate-density development (up to 12 units per net 

acre) on sites large enough to accommodate at least 50 dwell- ttiey nacl, but 

ing units (if it increases the number of affordable housing want more 

units). Three other districts also allow age-restricted housing amenities 

as a matter of right. In each, the permitted density is greater j rnmnletp 

than many other districts in order to encourage more compact t . . 

development. llVln § UnltS 

on one floor" 

Design Diversity 

Builders of "active adult" housing have found a ready market 
for their products in Howard County. They report that cus- 
tomers want homes that are not much smaller than the ones 
they had, but want more amenities and complete living units 
on one floor with non-essential living space on other levels. 
They want units with less maintenance and more services. 
Condominium communities that require no maintenance by 
the homeowners, even if the homes are detached, are most 

However, the active adult housing that is being built and 
successfully marketed in the county does not meet the needs 
of all of the county's seniors. These units appeal primarily to 
older adults who are still working. They are not affordable for 
most county residents. Developers and builders are not pro- 
viding homes that are on single-levels with low maintenance 
unless they are in age-restricted communities. The county also 
has limited housing suitable for older seniors who can live in- 
dependently but would prefer a much smaller unit than those 
currently being built. 

There has been a shift to the construction of attached 
units, but these are usually tract construction of villas and 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs ZL 

town homes. No builder has focused on small units, cottages, 
or ranch style units. In large part, this is due to the costs of 
land and development. Legislation was recently passed to pro- 
vide allocations, specifically for one- and two-bedroom units. 

Design Compatibility 

Many of the remaining undeveloped parcels with residential 
zoning are small and surrounded by established neighbor- 
hoods. Sites of five acres or less have the potential to provide 
an important resource for people to age in place. If used for 
age-restricted housing or small assisted living facilities, these 
sites would allow older residents to find new housing in or 
proximate to their own neighborhoods and provide options 
for older adults who would prefer not to live in communities 
limited to older adults. 

Redevelopment is becoming more economically attractive. 
Currently, an active adult housing development is being built 
on land that formerly had three single-family detached houses. 
In some neighborhoods older homes are being demolished to 
allow construction of larger new homes. The possibility of rede- 
velopment expands the potential for new development within 
established neighborhoods. At the same time, it is important 
that infill development and redevelopment of small parcels be 
compatible with existing, older neighborhoods. 

Sites of less than ten acres have proven to be the most diffi- 
cult to develop for age-restricted housing in a manner compat- 
ible with existing neighborhoods. Larger properties, when de- 
veloped either under the conditional use provision or the PSC 
(Planned Senior Community) zoning district, generally have 
their own character and identity and can be set apart from the 
surrounding community by open space, perimeter setbacks, 
roads, and other features. Although their design features are 
important, they are able to fit into the larger community in 
part because they are set apart from existing homes. 

Under the Zoning Regulations in place from 2001 until 
2003, R-20 (Residential — Single Detached) sites as small as 
four acres could be used for age-restricted housing under the 
conditional use provisions, at a density of five dwelling units 
per acre with a minimum of 20 units. However, as a result of 
a proposal to build an out-of-scale project of 28 age-restricted 
units as an in-fill development, the regulations were changed. 


Community residents successfully argued that the scale and 
massing of the project would be grossly incompatible and was 
out of character with existing homes. The County Council 
amended the regulations to require that the minimum devel- 
opment size be as few as 20 dwelling units in some single-fam- 
ily detached zoning districts (RC, RR, R-20, and R-12). Now 
at least ten acres are needed in R-20, where potential sites are 
the most likely to be found. The changes acknowledge the con- 
tinuing need while balancing the neighborhood concerns. 

Increasing the minimum development size solved the im- 
mediate problem by eliminating small sites for age-restricted 
housing. However, this is counter to the goals of increasing the 
diversity and the quantity of housing designed for older adults. 
The master plan committee that developed the Plan felt that 
there were design solutions that would allow senior housing to 
be built in character with the existing neighborhoods. 

One approach would be to build "multiplexes," or build- 
ings that look like large houses but actually contain three or 
four units that could be more affordable. These housing units 
would be visually compatible with the surrounding housing 
but would have smaller units for more older adults. Other 
regulatory requirements for age-restricted housing for smaller 
sites, such as the following, would also need to be addressed: 

• The landscape character of the sites must be designed 
carefully to ensure that small developments blend with ex- 
isting homes and yards; 

• The required 75 -foot perimeter setback takes up a great- 
er percentage of the land on smaller sites, making it harder 
to design homes that fit into the neighborhood; and 

• Generally, there is limited room on smaller sites for a 
transition along the perimeter to make the entire site rea- 
sonably compatible with neighboring properties. 

Universal Design Requirements 

Beginning in 2001, the zoning regulations required plans for 
age-restricted housing to show how universal design features 
would be incorporated. As a result, a task force comprised of 
members of the building industry, advocates, and county of- 
ficials developed a set of guidelines to be applied to all subse- 
quent development. Since cost was of utmost importance to 
the builders, the county's guidelines focused on the universal 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs 2_ 

design features with the highest potential benefit in relation 
to their cost. The guidelines have features that are "required", 
such as a no-step entrance, 36" doorways and hallways, block- 
ing for grab bars and adequate maneuvering, and turning ar- 
eas in kitchens and bathrooms. The "desirable" and "optional 
features" are features that a builder could provide or that a 
builder and purchaser could negotiate. Unfortunately, nego- 
tiation requires knowledge and education by both parties. This 
has been sorely lacking in Howard County, but is one area 
upon which the Office on Aging is focusing. 

The Department of Planning and Zoning's guidelines en- 
sure that housing can be easily modified for residents who find 
themselves in need of additional features to ease accessibility 
later in their lives. Developers report that homebuyers in ac- 
tive adult communities often do not perceive themselves as 
needing universal design features. This comports agrees with 
national findings that suggest that most who buy into active 
adult communities see themselves as healthy individuals who 
do not need these features. Nevertheless, these housing com- 
munities need to be designed to allow long-term independent 
living by seniors who may find that they need these features as 
they age in place. 

When the zoning regulations were changed, a number of 
projects were grandfathered. The projects that are subject to 
universal design are those applications for conditional uses and 
Planned Senior Communities filed after March 5, 2001 and 
the POR plans submitted after April 1, 2004. As of now, there 
are 16 developments with nearly 1,700 units where universal 
design features are required. The number of units reinforces 
the importance of using universal design features. 

Since the adoption of the master plan, the Departments 
of Planning and Zoning and Inspections, Licenses, and Per- 
mits and the Office on Aging have revised the guidelines and 
worked with advocates and developers on the challenges of the 
no-step entrance. The guidelines require one no-step entrance 
per unit. While it is highly preferable to have this be a front or 
external entrance, construction difficulties may require using 
an entrance through the garage as an alternative. 

The land where age-restricted housing is now being built 
or proposed has significant topographical and grade issues. 
The houses being built are generally tract or production houses 


with basements. Therefore, construction of houses with no- 
step entrances has presented significant challenges for build- 
ers, who tend to build the same housing type instead of cus- 
tom units. The county has been urging builders to be creative 
in design and engineering, but only a few have tried to find 
solutions. A local advocacy group recently presented awards 
to two builders for their efforts to use universal design. Since 
there is no waiver to any of these guidelines, county agencies 
have been able to push for solutions throughout the review and 
construction processes. 

Program and Policy Recommendations 

Changes in land use policy and regulations were deemed essen- 
tial for fostering new senior housing in the county. The rising 
cost of land and its diminishing availability requires more di- 
verse and creative design. To encourage more design and price 
diversity for 55+ housing while ensuring that infill senior hous- 
ing is a good neighbor to existing housing, various short-term 
recommendations for the zoning regulations were proposed. 
The Department of Planning and Zoning is the lead agency 
in researching and drafting land use regulations to implement 
many of the recommendations. The Departments of Housing 
and Community Development, and Inspections, Licenses, 
and Permits area also important collaborators. Some of the 
recommendations follow: 1) Allow conditional uses for smaller 
senior developments in RC, RR, R-20, and R-12 Districts in 
conjunction with revised and enhanced design requirements, 
enabling developments of 20 or more dwelling units rather 
than the current minimum of 50 units to be built; 2) Amend 
the conditional use for age-restricted housing and the PSC 
District to improve compatibility with the community, with 
special attention to sites smaller than ten acres, including: a) 
Create clearer criteria for the required landscaping; b) limit the 
total building area per acre while allowing a greater number of 
units if they are smaller; and c) Limit the total building length 
and size for attached units to be more architecturally compat- 
ible with surrounding neighborhoods; 3) Allow age-restricted 
housing in dwellings (multiplexes) that resemble single-fam- 
ily houses located in single-family detached neighborhoods; 4) 
Amend the conditional use for age-restricted adult housing in 
western Howard County to allow housing in business zones 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs 


where there is access to appropriate services; 5) Promote uni- 
versal design features in new, non-age-restricted housing and 
educate consumers and the construction and real estate indus- 
tries regarding the benefits of universal design; and 6) Create 
a Design Advisory Panel to review compatibility of new, age- 
restricted adult housing on sites in existing neighborhoods. 

To support an increase in the construction of more senior 
housing units, the following recommendations were made: 1) 
Amend Zoning Regulations to provide more opportunity to 
use small, infill sites in the RC, RR, R-20, and R-12 zoning 
districts for age-restricted housing and to encourage creation 
of smaller units; 2) Encourage accessory apartments in new or 
existing single-family detached homes; 3) Increase the annual 
allocation set-aside of 250 units for senior housing if linked to 
an increase in moderate income housing units. 

Mid-Term recommendations to be addressed over the next 
five years include: 1) A periodic review of the universal design 
guidelines to determine appropriateness and cost-effectiveness; 
2) A determination of whether there is flexibility in develop- 
ment requirements to promote creativity and innovation; 3) 
Research of culturally-appropriate design features or services 
for different segments of the senior population; 4) A determi- 
nation of whether the Howard County Housing Commission 
projects can use alternative designs such as multiplexes, cot- 
tages, zero lot line dwellings; and accessory apartments; and 5) 
Identification and evaluation of incentives to encourage build- 
ers to incorporate universal design features into new housing. 

"To provide 
housing ap- 
propriate for 
seniors, there 

must be 
provision of 
the services 
that will be 
needed by 


Housing affordability is one of the most difficult issues facing 
Howard County. Prices for all types of housing have escalated 
rapidly over the past five years for both new and existing units. 
Additionally, renovations and modifications to existing homes 
have become more expensive. 

Housing affordability is also a very significant issue for a 
substantial number of older residents. Over the last seven years, 
starting with survey data in 1999, approximately 30 percent of 
Howard County adults over 60 have had household incomes 
less than 40 percent of the median, or less than $29,000. An- 
other 29 percent have incomes between 40 percent and 80 
percent of the median. In its 2002 Study of Demographics 


and Needs, the Office on Aging also reported that: 1) Young- 
er seniors tend to have a larger income, with 62 percent of 
those 60-64 earn more than $50,000; 2) Adults over age 75 
are twice as likely as those between 60-74 to have incomes un- 
der S 20,0 00; 3) Senior females are more likely to have annual 
incomes under $20,000, with 36 percent of females reporting 
yearly income under S20,000; and 4) Males are twice as likely 
as females to have annual incomes of $50,000 or greater with 
over 50 percent ol senior men reporting incomes of at least 

To provide housing appropriate for seniors, there must be 
reasonable provision of the services that will be needed by resi- 
dents. The county's over- 60 age group reported that about 70 
percent had no limitation on their activities of dailv living, 12 
percent had a single limitation, and 18 percent had multiple 
limitations. On average, seniors with lower incomes reported 
higher numbers of ADL limitations. The relationship between 
housing and services cannot be ignored. 

The implication of these numbers is dramatic. How can 
the housing needs ol nearlv a third of the older residents be 
met? What about those with even moderate incomes? 

Standard measures lor determining housing affordability 
do not generallv apply to seniors since assets play a larger role 
than income. Aftordabilitv is influenced by the available down 
payment and other demands such as health care and rising 
utility costs. Equity from their prior homes and low debt en- 
able some seniors to purchase homes that would not be afford- 
able based onlv on income. 

For many seniors, owning; their home outright allows them 
to live on a modest income. The major source of affordable 
bousing will continue to be the existing housing in Howard 
Countv. As discussed previously, financial or practical assis- 
tance with repairs and modifications, which enable seniors to 
remain in their existing homes, can address more of the coun- 
ty's housing needs than new construction. 

Moderate Income Housing Units 

Since the adoption of the General Plan 2000, requirements to 
build Moderate Income Housing Units (MIHU) for seniors 
have been added to the zoning regulations. Generallv, in any 
housing development that is restricted to older adults, at least 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs if. 

ten percent of the units must be affordable for households with 
incomes between 50 and 80 percent of the median household 
income for the Baltimore region. In 2005 this meant a house- 
hold income range of $33,650-$53,840. These households are 
not eligible for low-income, subsidized housing and would, 
generally, be priced out of the vast majority of Howard Coun- 
ty's housing market. 

The MIHU program is administered by the Department 
of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which 
qualifies potential buyers and renters and retains enough con- 
trol over the housing units to ensure that they remain afford- 
able in successive sales or rentals. Through a shared equity 
program, DHCD assists first time homebuyers in purchasing 
units, and also ensures that there is a financial benefit to the 
buyer at time of sale. 

The MIHU regulations allow developers to build some 
moderately priced units off-site, rather than creating obliga- 
tion by building within the development. This has proven es- 
pecially useful for senior developments because the condomin- 
ium fees and taxes cause the monthly expenses to be too high 
for moderate-income purchasers. These condo fees are high 
because the buyers of these homes want amenities and main- 
tenance-free living. Ideally, units would be priced so that the 
combination of mortgage plus fees would be within the ability 
of moderate-income buyers to pay, but condominium fees can 
also rise based on maintenance and repair costs. The county is 
limited in its ability to adjust these fees by State law. 

The Department of Housing and Community Develop- 
ment has built two rental apartment buildings for moder- 
ate-income seniors using this off-site approach. The county is 
currently seeking to change its code to further increase the 
flexibility of developers, allowing more off-site transfer, a dif- 
ferent housing type to be built, or the payment of a fee-in-lieu 
in exchange for providing more MIHUs. 

Developers can also meet their MIHU obligations by 
repairing and renovating existing homes. Fifty thousand 
($50,000) dollars must be spent on an existing dwelling to 
meet the obligation. To be used for senior housing, an exist- 
ing home would need to be repaired and modified to meet 
universal design requirements, then sold to a moderate-income 
senior. As with new units, the Department of Housing and 


Community Development retains some ownership so that it 
can exercise control when the unit is sold to a moderate-in- 
come senior. 

Affordability for the 80-110 Percent Income Range 

The income eligibility requirements for potential purchasers of 
MIHUs limit the number of potential buyers and do not serve 
those with incomes between 80 and 110 percent of the median 
of $72,155. According to data from the Multiple List Service, 
the average house now sells for more than $450,000. As of 
May 3rd of 2006 realtors reported that only 50 of more than 
1,000 houses on the market cost less than $270,000. Because 
housing prices are so high in Howard County, even residents 
in this group have difficulty finding affordable housing. How- 
ever, since the definition of MIHUs is established by federal 
and state programs, people in this income range cannot utilize 
any federal funds to help them purchase or rent housing. 

This Senior Housing Master Plan focused on two ap- 
proaches with the best potential to provide the housing needs 
of middle-income seniors. One is to make use of the existing 
housing stock and assist those who wish to age in place. The 
second is to encourage production of more senior housing and 
a greater variety of housing for seniors by encouraging acces- 
sory apartments and smaller, new units. 

Program and Policy Recommendations 

The creation and retention of a sufficient number of affordable 
housing units remains the primary challenge. New approach- 
es must be considered. For most of these, the Department of 
Housing and Community Development will coordinate and 
implement the recommended actions, but the Department of 
Planning and Zoning will lead on some. 

The plan stresses the importance of providing zoning and 
regulatory incentives and standards to encourage the creation 
of more Moderate Income Housing Units (MIHUs). In the 
short term, it recommended that the county consider zoning 
incentives to increase the number of MIHUs in age-restricted 
housing, including the following: 1) Eliminate the indoor com- 
munity space requirement if a higher percentage of MIHUs is 
provided or if the site is within two miles of a senior center; 2) 
Allow higher density as an incentive for increased MIHU per- 

Planning for Senior Housing Needs 


"The master 
plan was 
by a broad- 
based group 
of county 

centage for larger age-restricted developments; and 3) Allow 
additional density in the PSC (Planned Senior Community) 
zoning district if a higher percentage of MIHUs is provided 
along with increased setbacks or buffering from surrounding 
properties; 4) Consider increasing the allocation set-aside for 
senior housing above 250 units per year with a higher percent- 
age of required MIHUs; 5) Continue to allow the MIHU ob- 
ligation associated with senior housing to be satisfied through 
renovation and modification of existing homes; 6) Revise the 
zoning regulations to encourage some of the new market-rate 
dwellings to be built as smaller units; and 7) Support acqui- 
sition of accessible housing units (such as ranch homes) that 
can be maintained as affordable units by the Howard County 
Housing Commission and nonprofit housing providers. 

With the cost of housing escalating, the plan recommends 
more financial incentives for the creation of more MIHUs to 
keep more senior housing affordable. For this, the short-term 
recommendations included: 1) Create a Housing Trust Fund 
to increase the supply of affordable senior housing through new 
construction or modification of existing homes using fees paid 
in lieu of providing required moderate income housing, bonds, 
transfer taxes, and county general funds as funding sources; 2) 
Acquire houses that can be renovated to incorporate universal 
design elements and selling or renting the homes to moderate- 
income seniors; 3) Establish a loan pool with private lenders to 
facilitate and help underwrite the acquisition of houses that are 
affordable to moderate-income seniors. 

The mid-term recommendations include considering: 1) 
Tax Increment Funding legislation for the construction of new, 
affordable units; 2) A tax abatement or credit for improvements 
where the dwelling is maintained as an affordable unit; 3) Tax 
relief to moderate-income renters of age-restricted units, par- 
allel to the real estate tax relief provided to homeowners with 
incomes below a certain threshold; and 4) A reevaluation of 
the schools' portion of the $1.80 excise tax obligation ($1.00 
per square foot) on MIHUs for seniors if more MIHUs are 
provided than are required for the particular development. 




The development of Howard County's Senior Housing Mas- 
ter Plan was important to understanding and addressing the 


housing needs of older adults. For the aging population to have 
adequate housing choices, the public and private sectors must 
get more creative and pro-active. 

As the master plan was developed by a broad-based group 
of county citizens, it reflects concerns about preserving exist- 
ing housing and enabling people to age in place; increasing 
the number of new for sale and rental housing units for older 
adults; making new construction more compatible with the 
surrounding community and more accessible and visitable for 
consumers; and finding more ways to make housing more af- 
fordable in a county with soaring housing costs. 

Since the Plan's adoption steps have been taken to change 
zoning regulations, expand needed services, alter the univer- 
sal design guidelines, and tackle the challenge of affordability. 
While the changes are only starting, Howard County has firm 
commitment to ensuring that as the county ages its diverse 
housing needs will be met. 


Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, 
(2000). Howard County General Plan 2000. 

Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, 

(2002). Research Report: 2000 Census: Age Characteris- 

Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, 
(2004). Research Report: Columbia. 

Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning, 

(2006). Development Monitoring System Report, How- 
ard County Maryland. 

Howard County Office on Aging, (2002). Study of De- 
mographics and Needs of the Seniors and Middle Age 
Population in Howard County. 

REDA International for Howard County, Office on Aging, 
(2001). Status of Seniors in Howard County and the 
Aging in Place Initiative. 

Zoning and Regional Planning 

Making universal design work in 
zoning and regional planning: 
A Scandinavian approach 

Olav Rand Bringa 


Universal design may well be the most innovative and signif- 
icant development to reach the planning sphere in the past 
several decades. It presents a holistic approach to how to deal 
with the interaction between humans and the environment. 
The core of this thinking revolves around the important issue 
of accessibility for people with reduced functionality based on 
equal opportunities and equal rights. 

The Norwegian Government is in the process of integrating 
universal design perspectives into various aspects of national 
planning policy. This is a direct result of advances achieved 
through preliminary policy development and pilot projects 
over the last years. County and municipal plans comprise the 
main targets for the new initiatives, which address a number 
of issues in strategic planning and zoning. The process of inte- 
grating universal design into planning policy includes revising 
the Planning Act, expanding government impact assessment 
regulations, developing and issuing national policy guidelines, 
and raising the overall levels of professional competence. 

This process opens new issues for discussion and clarifica- 
tion. What is the relationship between universal design, sus- 
tainable development, landscape development, and protection 
of the cultural heritage? Are the universal design principles 
consistent with the full scope of the definition of the concept? 


Activities in connection with the UN Convention on Disabili- 
ty Rights are now moving into their crucial final phases, and it 
is expected that the convention will be adopted by the General 
Assembly in the fall of 2006. If this is the case, then a lack of 
accessibility for individuals with disabilities will become offi- 
cially recognized as an act of discrimination. This hardly comes 
as a surprise; equality and full participation in society for peo- 
ple with disabilities has long figured on the international po- 



litical agenda. The United States Americans with Disabilities 
Act non-discrimination legislation transformed these political 
ideas into an effective policy tool. Many nations have followed 
this example, implementing efforts to further refine policies 
and instruments in an ever-growing number of spheres. 

The classification of accessibility for people with disabili- 
ties as a fundamental human right has wide-ranging ramifica- 
tions. Although principally aimed at strengthening the rights 
of people with disabilities as individuals, the responsibility for 
safeguarding these rights lies with a host of public authori- 
ties and private organizations. Ensuring that people with dis- 
abilities achieve equality and full participation in society is no 
longer a matter for the health and care services sector alone. 
Most other areas of society will need to be involved for such 
measures to be effectively and successfully implemented. 

The emergence of equality perspectives has forced us to 
think in new ways about how to achieve accessibility in prac- 
tice. A given accessibility problem will often have a myriad 
of potential solutions. Universal design thinking calls for so- 
lutions that, as far as possible, are available to everyone. It 
avoids specially adapted solutions devised only for people with 
reduced functionality, and argues that good solutions go be- 
yond accessibility. They must satisfy other requirements such 
as safety, sustainability, aesthetics, and affordability. Although 
many people with reduced functionality will still require spe- 
cial aids and solutions tailored to their specific needs, the prin- 
ciple of universal design provides a constructive basis for inte- 
grating accessibility thinking into ordinary societal processes. 
To solve the challenges, we must think beyond the design of 
individual products, buildings, and means of transport. We 
must see things in a bigger perspective, and work to establish 
universal design principles as a dynamic component of county 
and municipal planning procedures. This takes us into subject 
fields and aspects of government administration that are new 
in the context of accessibility. We must incorporate the new 
tool of universal design into the existing legislation, method- 
ology, and administrative entities for community planning. 
Norway is in the process of integrating it into national plan- 
ning policy. Before discussing those developments, I will offer 
some background on Norway and the Norwegian planning 

"We are 
currently in 
the process 
of integrat- 
ing univer- 
sal design 
into national 
policy in 

Zoning and Regional Planning ±L 

Norway, Denmark, and Sweden Together Comprise the 
Area of Northern Europe Known as Scandinavia. 

The countries of Scandinavia have much in common, includ- 
ing history and language. All three have constitutional mon- 
archies, similar social and administrative structures, and are 
typical welfare states with mixed economies. They share simi- 
lar planning legislation and planning administration systems. 
They differ as well, not least in terms of their geography. 

The renowned French Impressionist Claude Monet, who 
visited Norway in 1895, wrote in a letter to a friend: "Norway 
is a country far less awful than I had expected." 

Norway ^ 

4^W* r" \ 


Figure 6.1. Norway with county borders (Source: Norwe- 
gian Map Authority, Ministry of The Environment). 

The southern tip of Norway lies at the same latitude as 
Fort McMurray in Canada. The Northern Cap is as far north 
as the northernmost portion of Baffin Island. The name "Nor- 
way" — path to the North — is fitting. Yet, thanks to the Gulf 
Stream, which brings warm currents from the Gulf of Mexico 
northward, tempering the waters along our jagged coast, the 
country has a surprisingly moderate climate. That said, no part 
of Norway is without snow at some time during the winter. 

Mainland Norway, not including Svalbard, covers a total 
area of 324,000 sq km, or nearly three times the size of Ohio. 
Of this, 1.4 percent is cities and towns and 3.2 percent is cul- 
tivated as agricultural land. The rest is forest, mountains and 
plateaus, and lakes and glaciers. Twenty percent of Norway's 
land area is located at or above 900 meters above sea level. This 


poses a special set of challenges in the context of accessibility 
in land-use planning. Few developable areas outside of agricul- 
tural land have a low incline, and we have stringent restrictions 
limiting the use of agricultural land for purposes other than 

Figure 6.2. Rural landscape in Western Norway. 

City and town areas, some of which are up to 1,000 years 
old, long ago expanded beyond their original flatlands, mov- 
ing up the valleys and mountainsides. With just 4.6 million 
inhabitants, Norway is one of Europe's most sparsely populat- 
ed countries (population density, 15 people per sq. km. com- 
pared to Ohio at 97 people per sq. km.). Almost 80 percent 
of the Norwegian population lives in urban and town areas, 
which means we have constant pressure to develop new land 
areas. This applies in particular to Oslo, the country's capital 
and communications hub, as well as its administrative and fi- 
nancial center. Oslo is home to the Royal Family, the national 
assembly, the government administration, and a host of im- 
portant national institutions. 

The Planning System 

A key factor in land-use policy is the protection of land areas. 
The management of land areas must comply with national and 
international policies relating to conservation of the landscape 
and environment, protection of threatened species, and pres- 
ervation of cultural monuments. At the same time, a proper 
framework must be established for energy 

Zoning and Regional Planning 


Figure 6.3. The capitol Oslo in winter. 

making must 
be democrat- 
ic and decen- 

production, communications, and industrial activity, among 
other things. The government lays down principles for regional 
and local planning activity through government reports (white 
papers) and national policy guidelines. 

The Planning and Building Act is a key tool in the plan- 
ning and assessment of various considerations in land-use al- 
locations. It encompasses activities relating to planning as well 
as building, but since this chapter focuses on planning I will, 
for simplicity, refer to it as the Planning Act. The Planning 
Act, administered by the Ministry of the Environment, the 
national planning authority, applies at all government admin- 
istrative levels in Norway. Norway is divided into 19 counties, 
consisting of a total of 431 municipalities. The largest of these 
is Oslo, with 550,000 inhabitants, while the smallest has only 

This may sound rigid and overly centralized, as munici- 
palities obviously have different capabilities to deal with plan- 
ning tasks. Some may be tempted to invoke the words of the 
economist John Kenneth Galbraith, who said: "You will find 
that the State is the kind of organization which, though it does 
big things badly, does small things badly, too." However, the 
Planning Act rests on principles of democratic and decen- 
tralized decision-making. Publicly elected bodies at the vari- 
ous administrative levels make all planning decisions within a 
framework laid down by the relevant superior authority. Plan- 
ning processes are transparent. The Planning Act ensures that 
proceedings are public and open to participation from individ- 
uals and organizations. This gives special interest groups, such 


as one for persons with disabilities, every opportunity to take 
part in municipal planning processes. Of course, transparency 
does not prevent bad decisions, but it does increase the chances 
of decisions based on consideration of the greatest number of 
factors possible. In the event of conflicting considerations or 
questions regarding violations of the rules set out in the legis- 
lation, the final decision-making authority lies with the Min- 
istry of the Environment. The ministry also is responsible for 
implementing any adjustments to planning policy or planning 
legislation deemed necessary by the government. Major policy 
shifts and legislative amendments must be submitted to the 
Norwegian national assembly, the Storting, for approval. 

Norway's efforts to incorporate universal design and ac- 
cessibility into planning policy across the board center on the 
county and municipal levels. Each county administration (or 
municipality) draws up a county (or municipal) master devel- 
opment plan with a 10-12 year perspective. At least once ev- 
ery four years, these plans go through a political review, with 
revision if warranted. The annual administrative budgets de- 
vise action programs for plan implementation and follow-up. 
The master development plans have two parts: a community 
part that coordinates the physical, economic, social, aesthetic, 
and cultural development of the county or municipality; and a 
land-use part that establishes the use of land area and natural 
resources in the relevant area. The land-use part of a county 
master plan lays down guiding principles for the municipali- 
ties. It is a legally binding document. Before use of land areas 
commences, municipalities must prepare zoning plans that 
specify in more detail the exact use of each area, 

Community planning systems have different organiza- 
tions in different countries. In democratic countries, planning 
systems constitute a powerful instrument for developing re- 
gions and local communities and using resources and land to 
the benefit of society and the population in the short and long 
terms. The planning process is never free of conflict; conflict is 
at the very heart of the planning sector, which must deal with 
political agendas and ideologies. For accessibility to get proper 
attention systematically, and in the right contexts, the univer- 
sal design strategy must become an integral part of prevailing 
community and land-use planning processes. 

Zoning and Regional Planning jjjj 

Where Does Universal Design Come into Play in Regional 

The Norwegian government issued a circular identifying top- 
ics to incorporate into county and municipal plans, and it also 
designated a clear national policy in this sphere. County and 
municipal administrations are expected to integrate national 
policy into their planning processes and translate it into good, 
cohesive solutions at the regional and local levels. The gov- 
ernment circular offers a starting point for assessing the main 
approaches relating to the planning process and the role of 
universal design strategy. An abbreviated list of relevant top- 
ics includes: 

1. The regional planning system 

• Agenda 21. Follow-up of the Rio Declaration on Envi- 
ronment and Development 

• Considerations relating to security and emergency pre- 

• International cooperation 

2. Sustainable development and resource management 

• Planning for utilization and conservation 

• Biological diversity 

• Watercourses 

• Resources available to agriculture, forestry, fisheries 

• Daily life and local communities 

• Development policy and transport 

• Energy production and consumption 

• Waste management 

3. Quality of life and welfare 

• Children and youth policy 

• Living conditions and housing construction 

• Health promotion and preventative efforts 

• Hospitals 

• Mental health care 

• Rehabilitation, work, and activity 

• Care of older adults 

• Measures for substance abusers 

4. Culture, education, and research 

• Cultural, sports, and recreational activities 

• Education 

• Life-long learning 


• Research and studies 
5. Industrial sector and working life 

• Planning for industrial development 

• Information and communications technology 

• Innovation and restructuring 

• Agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and reindeer husbandry 

• Regional development programs 

Accessibility for individuals with reduced functionality 
fits under the social policy component of the plan. Point 3, 
Quality of life and welfare, is the natural candidate. It encom- 
passes plans for institutions, housing, and rehabilitation, and 
covers employment measures and activities for special groups. 
Although this component provides an important backdrop for 
accessibility thinking, it will not adequately reflect the realities 
of society, national targets, or international directives. People 
with disabilities live everywhere, work everywhere, and want 
to go where everybody else goes. National policy is directed 
at full participation and equality, and international directives 
such as those from the UN are moving in the same direction. 
Thus, all the topics on the list should be reviewed with an eye 
to equality and accessibility, with the goal that all areas of so- 
ciety function well for all inhabitants. Universal design is the 
relevant strategy for devising concrete measures. 

Before a closer look at the core universal design approach- 
es in land-use planning, consider some examples in planning 
where the strategy has relevance, and where one could incor- 
porate management and guidelines into municipal planning. 

Waste management planning involves finding waste de- 
posit sites, establishing facilities for recycling and energy pro- 
duction, organizing waste collection, and determining figur- 
ing out logistics. Consumers play an important role here. They 
should put their trash in places for collection. A home waste- 
sorting program should allow all consumers, including people 
who are blind or have low vision, to sort their waste efficiently 
into easily differentiated trash bins. Without such a program, 
one needs easily differentiated trash bins to enable all consum- 
ers, including those who are blind or have low vision, to sort 
their waste efficiently. Municipal guidelines stipulating the use 
of different colors and clear marking of trash bins can provide 
an efficient means of dealing with this issue. 

Zoning and Regional Planning 


Urban environments also often provide larger-scale waste 
receptacles for trash and waste deposits. They take up a lot of 
space, and often clash with their surroundings. They also pres- 
ent obstacles to use. The waste deposit opening is often high, 
hard to find, and has a heavy cover to lift (Figure 6.4). 

Figure 6.4. Typical waste receptacle with main container 
on the ground. 

Lowering receptacles into the ground can put the deposit 
openings at a more usable height (Figure 6.4). They fit the 
urban context better and are more hygienic. One can easily 
equip them with electronic systems that can transmit a signal 
to the transport center when they are full and need emptying. 

Figure 6.5. Accessible waste receptacles with main con- 
tainers in shafts 


This exemplifies universal design alternatives that exists, ready 
for use by municipal planners issuing guidelines. 

Information and communications technology (ICT) has 
become a critical factor in society, not least in the context of 
democratic participation. Public information such as plans and 
political decisions need to be made available to the entire pop- 
ulation. ICT can effectively convey information if its potential 
is properly used. One can incorporate tools such as artificial 
voices reading aloud the text of digital documents and the ap- 
plication of Web Accessibility Initiative ( WAI) standards into 
municipal communication strategies, thereby increasing pub- 
lic accessibility to important information. 

Cultural monuments are part of a common heritage, and 
need to be managed in a sound fashion. They need to be safe- 
guarded for future generations, and should also be used to 
provide insight and experience to us today. These are compli- 
cated issues. As one expert in the government cultural heritage 
administration put it when he was trying to explain the over- 
all lack of accessibility to cultural monuments for people with 
disabilities: "We don't believe that it is people with disabilities 
who pose a threat to cultural monuments; we believe that all 
people pose a threat to them." Nonetheless, it is necessary to 
work toward solutions that combine use and protection — uti- 
lization that includes people from all segments of society. Far 
to the north in Finnmark county, along the Alta Fjord border- 
ing on the Barents Sea, is one of Northern Europe's largest 
fields of rock drawings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 
5,000 petroglyphs ranging in age from 2,000 to 6,200 years 
old. Due to wear and tear from the many visitors, the authori- 
ties considered closing the field to safeguard it for the future. 
Instead, the situation was resolved by building wooden bridges 
across the entire area. Here, new thinking both protected this 
important cultural monument, and made it possible for per- 
sons with disabilities to experience this spectacular rock art. 

While this winning solution resulted more from coinci- 
dence than conscious analysis, similar success stories can be- 
come the norm, rather than the exception. To achieve this, we 
should base access to cultural monuments on universal design 
principles. One place to establish this as a necessary strategy is 
the community planning part of the municipal master plans. 

Zoning and Regional Planning 1£Z 

Figure 6.6. Wooden bridge across the fields of rock draw- 
ings in Alta protects this cultural monument and expand 

There are many more illustrations of important spheres of 
society in which one should analyze and incorporate consider- 
ations relating to people with disabilities into long-term, over- 
all, and strategic plans. In Norway, these considerations are 
integrated into the community planning parts of the county 
and municipal master plans, which lay down guiding princi- 
ples for the various sectors and determine the desired course of 
community development. Other realms also issue guidelines 
involving the application of universal design strategy to the 
various sectors. Various government regulations and political 
decisions, such as in ICT, protection of cultural monuments, 
education, building construction, specify this. The integra- 
tion of universal design thinking in planning processes and 
in plans themselves lends weight to the policy and enhances 
coordination and consistency. Moreover, it ensures that such 
thinking becomes a necessary part of the political and admin- 
istrative framework. 

In political circles, Norway has experienced little disagree- 
ment on this development. The political parties from left to 
right support the policy actively. The political orientation of 
the cabinet has changed several times over the last few years, 
and each change of government has resulted in more emphasis 
on universal design policy. 


Universal Design in Land-Use Policy 

Land-use policy attempts to determine how land area is to be 
used through due democratic process. Municipal planning ac- 
tivities culminate in a plan that is legally binding. In practice, 
this entails a map of a municipality in which various colors are 
employed to indicate specific types of use. Other legally bind- 
ing provisions may be issued regarding special considerations 
to be taken into account. These may involve requirements re- 
lating to the order of development activities, infrastructure, 
size and design of buildings and facilities, outdoor areas, and 
so on. Provisions may also be issued regarding the designation 
of a more detailed plan that stipulates other quality require- 
ments. The Planning Act lays down the capacity to make such 
decisions, and here we can discern the contours of a legal in- 
strument that one can use to deal with areas of importance in 
terms of accessibility for persons with reduced functionality. 
This applies to buildings, outdoor areas, and road systems. 
The land-use categories in the municipal master plan are: 

1. Built-up areas, 

2. Agricultural, natural, and outdoor recreational areas, 

3. Areas for resource extraction, 

4. Closed areas (e.g., areas for military training, security 
zones around fixed cultural monuments, and natural ar- 

5. Use and protection of watercourses and sea areas, and 

6. Important links in the communications system. 

Categories 1,2, and 6 have the most relevant in the discus- 
sion here. They can have a direct impact on accessibility for 
persons with reduced functionality. Built-up areas, natural and 
outdoor recreation areas, and important links in the commu- 
nications system have sub-categories that correspond to colors 
on the planning maps: Housing (yellow); industry, offices, and 
private businesses (blue); public activities (red); outdoor rec- 
reation areas and parks (green); water (light blue); and roads 
(grey). These maps, which decorate the walls of many planning 
agencies, document municipal development. Tfie saying that, 
"If you don't have a plan for yourself, you'll be part of someone 
else's," applies in land-use planning like everywhere else. There 
are many interests at stake, some of which validate the prin- 
ciples of universal design, other that diverges from them. 

Zoning and Regional Planning 


'The fun- 
factors for 
design at 
this level of 
planning are 
walking dis- 
tances, level 
of incline, 
and land- 
mark orien- 

Figure 6.7. Part of planning map 

To achieve universal design at this level of planning, one 
must consider walking distances, levels of incline, and land- 
mark orientation. Short distances are particularly important in 
residential areas. Long distances to grocery stores, post offices, 
and public services pose obstacles to daily life for many people, 
and these obstacles increase with age. Both urban structure 
and location of residential areas are important in this regard. 
If the main structure for development of a city or town is based 
on a division into zones — housing district in one area, business 
district in another, and, say, outdoor recreational areas in a 
third — this creates a structure without nuclei to offer a variety 
of services, increases the distance between areas of daily activity, 
and diminishes accessibility. Encouraging new development in 
existing nuclei, towns, and city areas strengthens the business 
base in existing centers and enhances available services. Cit- 
ies in many Western countries have lost residents, businesses 
and still have poor traffic accessibility. Some countries have 
implemented policies in response. For example, Norway intro- 
duced a ban on the establishment of shopping malls outside 
of established urban centers to counteract these developments. 
Such policies have also sought reduce dependency on private 
automobiles, thus decreasing resource consumption. Existing 
urban centers often offer good collective transport coverage, 
with a choice of bus and subway instead of car. 

Why, however, should we give such emphasis to the needs 
of persons with reduced functionality if other important soci- 
etal considerations also point in the direction of concentrated 
development? There are several reasons. The needs of persons 
with reduced functionality represent a social issue on par with 


other issues. Assessments should include universal design 
whether on its own or in conjunction with other social issues. 
Planning processes need to include universal design dimen- 
sions in plans that other societal considerations may overlook. 
This applies, among other things, to mandatory requirements 
for the design of buildings, facilities, and outdoor recreational 
areas used by the public at large on the basis of universal design 
principles. This may be formulated as a decision pursuant to the 
Norwegian Planning Act and manifested directly in the qual- 
ity of the design details. These details may receive more sub- 
stance in the more comprehensive zoning plan, which specify 
the height of curbstones, incline of pedestrian walkways, and 
guiding features for people who are blind and vision-impaired. 
It also specifies the quality of housing in a planning area and 
can stipulate any requirements that extend beyond the provi- 
sions of Norwegian building regulations. It may stipulate that 
all or part of the housing stock to be built in a given area must 
be accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. 

Most municipalities need to expand beyond the land avail- 
able in existing cities and urban centers. Many people prefer 
to live outside cities, which entails readying new land area for 
housing, services, and employment. New development areas 
should be chosen to provide the highest degree of accessibility 
possible. They should be planned as urban centers with nu- 
clei that can serve the local environment. In choosing between 
various development alternatives, one should select those that 
provide the best foundation for universal design solutions. This 
means avoiding areas with steep or hilly terrain that make road 
and pedestrian access difficult and inhibit accessibility to hous- 
ing and other buildings. Norway has extreme topographical 
variation. Most of the available flatlands are protected farm- 
land or are located high on mountain plateaus. This leaves lim- 
ited choices of terrain for building housing. In Western Nor- 
way, known for its deep valleys and impressive fjords, surveys 
of residents living in mountainside areas indicate the ramifica- 
tions of building along the steep inclines, away from the local 
urban centers. Many of the residents say that they could not 
live in these homes when they grow older. This is regrettable 
because it implies less choice for the individual. Herein lies a 
clear message to the public authorities. Home-based care is a 
key component of the Norwegian care service, and unneces- 

Zoning and Regional Planning ill 

sarily complicated housing conditions leads to greater demands 
on resources. Some cases have alternative development areas 
available and plans can use the terrain differently. The chal- 
lenge lies in making these areas function optimally through 
deliberate placement of roads and housing lots. One can make 
housing adequately accessible even in steep or hilly terrain. 

Figure 6.8. Residential area near the city of Drammen in 
Eastern Norway 

The Implementation of Universal Design Strategy In Nor- 
wegian National Planning Policy 

Elements of a planning policy including universal design prin- 
ciples were introduced in Norway in 1999 in circular T-5/99 
Accessibility for all. For the most part, the planning guidelines 
discussed here come from this circular. It provided a body of 
experience that now forms the basis for revising national plan- 
ning policy. The main conclusion is that accessibility in the 
form of universal design can be integrated into regional and 
local planning. Yet, the circular has not been granted the de- 
sired weight implied in national objectives. Efforts are under- 
way to launch a variety of instruments to rectify this. 

The Planning Act is being revised, and a political decision 
has already been taken to include the principle of universal 
design in the objects clause. Universal design strategy will thus 
become an objective on a par with sustainability and protec- 
tion of cultural monuments. The new act will also probably 
strengthen the participation of interest groups for disabled per- 
sons in planning processes, as well as the application of plan- 


ning provisions to achieve design for all. 

In 2006, national policy guidelines for universal design in 
planning will be issued. They will stress many of the same fac- 
tors described in the 1999 circular. National policy guidelines 
carry greater political authority than a government circular. 

Other aspects of the legislation have already been acti- 
vated. The government impact assessment regulations to the 
Planning Act have incorporated accessibility for individuals 
with reduced functionality into County master plans, the 
land-use part of the municipal master plans, and municipal 
master plans that specify areas for physical development. Zon- 
ing plans must have environmental impact assessment in rela- 
tion to accessibility criteria if, for instance, such plans involve 
office and public buildings for general use that exceed 5,000 
sq. m. The same goes for roads, railway lines, and public tram 
and underground lines for the carriage of persons, as well as in 
the context of relevant plans for the development of towns and 
urban centers. It assumes that an impact assessment will only 
be necessary if the effects of a plan will be significant. 

The amended regulations make the planning program a 
compulsory instrument for promoting early-stage user partici- 
pation in and clarification of key considerations affecting the 
planning efforts. Efforts to develop the planning program will 
comprise an arena in which important limits can be defined, 
thus making it possible to adapt planning activities to needs. 
In political discussions the planning program will provide a 
basis on which to define a political framework, thereby estab- 
lishing essential conditions for the planning activities. The 
regulations clearly stipulate that impact on accessibility is one 
of the topics to be assessed. 

The Next Steps 

In the course of the next year, Norway will have an improved 
legal framework for integrating universal design into the plan- 
ning of community and land-use master plans. It will be 
necessary to provide information on this to local planning 
authorities and private planning companies alike. The imple- 
mentation of new directives also implies a need to enhance 
competence. However, we are aware that we will also face new 
and even more demanding challenges. 

Norwegian legislation will employ the concept of universal 

Zoning and Regional Planning il£ 

design based on a definition that resembles the definition used 
by the Center for Universal Design at the University of North 
Carolina. This definition is fitting, but the accompanying prin- 
ciples and guidelines do not provide good associations with the 
qualities we are seeking in land-use planning. Moreover, the 
concept of universal design is somewhat difficult to use in a 
legal context. It requires something virtually without limits. 
Looking at these problems, we believe we can find solutions. 
Should these issues be discussed at the international level. The 
concept of universal design with principles and guidelines is 
gaining in international status, and it seems wise to ensure 
that potential adjustments are coordinated. 

The more we contemplate universal design, the clearer it 
becomes that this is both an independent ideology and a soci- 
etal component that meshes with other essential societal con- 
siderations. Sustainable development is a chief objective, but 
it is not fully isolated from universal design. Universal design 
is an important say to achieve social sustainability in that it 
creates a framework for human rights, equity, and democra- 
tization. At the same time, it is an instrument for economic 
sustainability because it allows more people to function inde- 
pendently in society, to pursue education, and to take part in 
the workforce. These issues need to be examined more closely. 

Landscape development and design stresses the importance 
of preserving and developing the natural and built landscape. 
In the context of the built landscape, this means developing a 
visual identity and aesthetic form. It means developing cities 
and towns in which people know where they are. We need 
more knowledge about what this implies for the ability of the 
orientation-impaired to find their way about. This is a field 
that is rooted in the visual world, but landscapes consist of 
sounds, smells, and other sensory input. We all lose out on 
something if assessments of how to design landscape overlook 
these elements. 

Many interesting academic and political development 
trends emerging in this field, and the planning authorities in 
Norway will be following these closely. Much of the work in- 
dicates that universal design is possibly the most innovative 
and significant element to reach the planning sphere in the 
past several decades. 


Universal Design In Brazil 

Research and Teaching Of Accessibility 
and Universal Design In Brazil: 
Hindrances and Challenges In a 
Developing Country 

Cristiane Rose Duarte and Regina Cohen 


This paper deals with accessibility and universal design in 
Brazil. Most Brazilian cities have physical barriers that restrict 
movement of people. Although eliminating these barriers can 
increase opportunities for every citizen, we must also eliminate 
attitudinal barriers, which because of their invisibility may be 
harder to fix. Until recently, Brazil has lacked information and 
awareness about the importance of these issues to urban plan- 
ning and public policies. Architects, engineers, urban planners, 
professionals, technicians and the public share responsibility. 
Facing the challenge of improving access to urban space, the 
architects and authors of this paper created the Nucleo Pro- 
acesso (Accessibility Research Bureau, ARB) in 1999, linking 
it to a line of research in the Post-graduate Studies Program 
in Architecture (PROARQ) in the Federal University of Rio 
de Janeiro (UFRJ). Through targeting design professionals, 
ARB research — coordinated by the authors — has produced 
reports aimed at creating more accessible spaces for everyone. 
This chapter discusses our educational experiences, research 
projects, and the Brazilian reality. The undergraduate curricu- 
lum uses dynamic methods covering theory, simulation and 
intense design activity to motivate students to consider human 
diversity, accessibility, and the "Other" as key design concerns. 
The Post-graduate curriculum adds evaluation techniques and 
analyses. The 'new minds' shaped by our program target the 
effective change in a developing country, such as Brazil. 

The 2000 Census in Brazil (Brazilian Institute of Geography 
and Statistics, IBGE, 2000) show that almost 24. 5 million 
people (14.5% percent of the population) have some kind of 
disability. These people have at least some difficulty related to 
seeing, hearing, moving around, or mentally understanding 
the world. Most of them do not receive support from urban 
spaces, which often block their free movement. Such barriers 



exist for many reasons. We need better information and aware- 
ness about access as a civil right for every citizen. 

The Federal Government of Brazil recently approved Edict 
n. 5.296 which regulates the implementation of architectural 
and urban accessibility to all means of transportation, public 
spaces, technical assistance, cultural heritage, information and 
communication. It affirms that the various documents of our 
urban legislation have to follow every standard and precept of 
accessibility (EDICT N. 5.296/2004). In Brazil, the deficiency 
usually relates to social and economical matters and the dif- 
ficulty of moving on physical spaces in the city. Nevertheless, 
the recent Constitution of Brazil (1989) is one of the most 
advanced documents in the world, in guaranteeing civil rights 
and national protective laws. However, this great accomplish- 
ment is seldom followed. 

Recently, the Brazilian Federation emphasized urban 
planning for those people considered "pattern" — the average 
ordinary person — Brazil started watching for a special treat- 
ment offered to People with Mobility Difficulty (PMD). Many 
charitable and philanthropic institutions appeared, but we 
would hardly ever see a global project towards the equalizing 
of opportunities for all. This attitude has enabled some social 
deviations such as the exploitation of deficiency as a tool for 
butting in, still common in our cities. 

Some quick changes have occurred, but for such a large 
country, these represent small changes. Slowly, other changes 
have occurred, starting to create a new urban reality, eliminat- 
ing inequalities in the fulfillment of accessibility. 

In 1994, the first greatest International Seminar on Ac- 
cessibility, in Rio de Janeiro, effectively started spreading the 
discussion of the theme, and a new version of the Brazilian Ac- 
cessibility Technical Rules, last edited in 1989, was published. 
2003 saw the creation of the Ministry of Cities and the Pro- 
gram "Accessible Brazil" in the Chancery of Transportation 
and Urban Mobility, aiming at enhancing with practical tools 
in accessibility and universal design. In 2004, the new version 
of the Technical Rules and the association of two federal laws 
became the most comprehensive document regarding acces- 

In 2004, Adaptive Environments, a North American insti- 
tution based in Boston, organized one of the biggest Confer- 

In Brazil, the 
deficiency usu 
ally relates to 
social and eco- 
nomical mat- 
ters as well as 
the difficulty 
of moving on 
physical spaces 
in the city. 

Universal Design In Brazil UZ 

ence on Accessibility and Universal Design, the event Design- 
ing for the 21st Century, which stimulated the discussion of 
this theme in our urban national scenario. The atmosphere 
enraptured Brazilian planners, who received much relevant in- 
formation for use in every sector of design and planning. 

Accessing places in a city presupposes an effort in urban 
design to reach everyone's spatial needs. With the aid of these 
conferences, Brazilian researchers found solid arguments to 
justify their plans, now strengthened by other countries which 
gave priority to the inclusion of PMD in their own cities. From 
this starting point, the concept of universal design started be- 
ing associated with some urban interventions. Yet, the sense of 
legality and technical rules cannot sustain themselves alone. 
We believe that undergraduate courses represented a way to 
put ideas into action. They can play a crucial role in creating 
new ways of thinking, which conferences can spread, 
architecture Thus, our Research Group, Nucleo Pro-acesso, sought the 

students in our improvement of academic skills in accessibility and universal 
university but design in architecture through a specific course created for un- 

• 11 i dergraduate students. Our projects and work have influenced 

lere is still a long & r } 

other universities. 

' o * This chapter describes the teaching approach. We invest in 

architecture students in our university but there is still a long 
way to go. As Brazilian architects, professors and researchers 
at UFRJ we decided to count on young students, open to new 
ideas and potential generators of opinion, as they can make 
the seeds of sustainability grow, searching for the promotion of 
quality of life, assuring future generations to reach the balance 
between society and environment and promoting the social- 
spatial integration of the differences. 

This chapter first discusses the inclusion of people with 
disability in undergraduate courses and the access to univer- 
sity physical spaces in one of the biggest federal institutions in 
Brazil: UFRJ. 

Disabled People in Brazilian Universities 

People with disabilities in Brazil have long been excluded from 
academic life. Until the beginning of the 80's, there were many 
reasons that have kept them apart. The Philosophy of Special 
Education had been generally associated with segregation. The 
International Year of Disabled People declared by United Na- 


tions in 1981 led to some changes in accessibility for Brazilian 
PMD in the undergraduate courses. Individual and collective 
efforts produced changes in university curricula, but students 
still had problems moving in spaces. In 1999, Decree n. 1679 
of the Ministry of Education established requirements for ac- 
cess of people with disability in academic institutions. In 2001, 
UFRJ with the aid of Nucleo Pro-acesso and the University of 
Rio (UNIRIO) organized the First Forum for Special Educa- 
tion and Universal Design. Five years after Decree n. 1679, 
most Brazilian universities still lack basic accessibility. 

Yet, some innovative attitudes toward spatial inclusion 
have occurred. For example, the National University of Brasil- 
ia (UnB) has implemented a program for supporting PMD 
and eliminating architectural barriers; the University of Sao 
Paulo (USP) started intervention proposals in their campy and 
a master plan for the implementation of accessible policies; and 
the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) inaugurated infor- 
mational accessible spaces and a Didactic Lab with equipment 
for people who are blind, attending the internal and external 

UFRJ with the work of its institutional Computer Bu- 
reau, Professor Antonio Borges developed a free software titled 
DOS VOX which works through a voice synthesizer to allow 
people with visual disability to access digital information. 
Borges has recently developed MOTRIX which allows people 
with motor difficulties to work with electronic devices. 

At UFRJ, the authors of this chapter started the Research 
Group on Accessibility and Universal Design, (Accessibility 
Research Bureau, ARB) linked to the Faculty of Architecture 
and Urbanism. We also teach in the area. 

Nucleo Pro-Acesso (Pro-Access Research Group) 

Taking into consideration the present social situation in Brazil 
and the lack of accessibility in universities and schools of archi- 
tecture, in 1999 we created a Research, Teaching and Design 
Bureau Group on Accessibility and Universal Design - Nucleo 
Pro-acesso - in UFRJ (Accessibility Research Bureau, ARB), 
linking itself to a field of research in the Post-grad Studies Pro- 
gram in Architecture (PROARQ). 

Through a specific approach in architecture and urban 
design, our group has produced strategies for the creation of 

Universal Design In Brazil \}9_ 

accessible spaces for all, and we have an effective participation 
in many different sectors through the work of architects coor- 
dinated by us. This group has been a pioneer in Rio de Janeiro 
and the country. As educators we emphasize the necessity of 
amplifying the didactic activities for a critical reflection, mak- 
ing students analyze, understand the construction of models 
and decide what to adapt. 

Based on this approach, the chapter discusses the ways we 
make future architects aware of sensitive to PMDs. Our activi- 
ties towards accessibility began with the first research in the 
circuit of post-grad courses considered "open" sectors in the 
development of quality of life ideas. The activities in the Bu- 
reau have diversified, gathering from the elaboration of read- 
justment plans to historical buildings to the representation of 
the university in permanent commissions of accessibility, and 
developing teaching, research and extension activities. 

We thought it most important to sensitize students at the 
School of Architecture to this matter, as they will become the 
planners of tomorrow cities. We involve them in developing 
plans and projects, closely followed by students in the post- 
grad courses. ARB had the following objectives: 

• Promote the reflection over the quality of life of the built 
space for all; 

• Sensitize undergraduate and post-grad students for the 
architectural and environmental implications of design studios 
headed for social groups with special necessities; 

• Produce and gather special material in this theme; 

• Support architecture plans for active participation of us- 
ers with disabilities in the city spaces; 

• Promote seminars and meetings for discussions over ac- 
cessibility and universal design; 

• Establish exchanges with national and international en- 
tities for specific public policies; 

• Spread the results of research and studies developed by 
ARB or other institutions; 

• Advise local community in topics related to accessibility 
and universal design; 

• Demonstrate that inclusion and exemplary design are 

ARB has acted on diverse academic activities, and has 
counseled on the elimination of accessible barriers in both 


public and private institutions (e.g. universities, banks, shop- 
ping centers); offering courses for professors, technicians and 
urban planners; guiding Final Studio Projects in undergradu- 
ate and post-grad courses related to accessibility. 

Products of ARB have received recognition in the inter- 
national scientific community, institutional and financial sup- 
port, and awards. Consider some of what ARB has accom- 
plished, and what challenges lay ahead. 

Research Activities 

ARB has worked to improve scientific methods and knowl- 
edge about accessibility and universal design. We conducted 
the first relevant and widest conceptual, physical and icono- 
graphic survey in Brazil. The dissemination of those results 
gained national attention and use by other universities, institu- 
tions and city, state and federal government bodies. 

Conceptual Bases 

Our research focuses on the environmental experience of us- 
ers and social sustainability. Toward this end, we based our 
research on seven concepts: 

Environmental experience 

Social sustainability 

Access and accessibility 

Universal design 

Accessible route 

Spatial exclusion 

Environmental Experience. This analysis centers on the 
multiple forms of perception one may have towards urban 
spaces, and to attributes that act on different kinds of affective 
experience in spaces. Space experience structures every person's 
identification standards with environment. For Tuan (1983, 
p. 10) "experiencing is learning, understanding; it means it is 
possible to act on space and create from it." We have verified 
that the impossibility of experiencing spaces in the same way 
as every day users is a barrier itself; and this experiential bar- 
rier is often larger than other physical barriers in urban spaces. 
Evaluative responses to places allow people to become identi- 
fied with spaces and this occurs through space experience. We 
have been working on this spatial notion of affording differ- 

Universal Design In Brazil |^1 

ent ways of apprehension and possibilities for PMD to identify 
themselves with the places they act on. 

Social Sustainability. This analysis deals with the possibility 
of access as an essential aspect of the quality of life of citizens. 
We consider Social Sustainability as an improvement on the 
quality of life of populations and promoter of Social Inclusion. 
We understand the importance of sponsoring the participation 
of spatially excluded groups in the use of public elements of 
cities. If self-sustainable development presupposes an integra- 
tion of economic and social development with environment, 
as many theoreticians advocate, then studies on sustainability 
should include the search for spatial inclusion strategies. 

Access and Accessibility. Lynch (1990) saw Access as one of 
the elements to achieve 'the good form of the city'; Francoise 
Choay and Pierre Merlin (1988) gives a wider and more holis- 
tic view of Accessibility in the 'Dictionary of Urbanism' as do 
the works of Mettetal-Dulard (1994) and Guimaraes (1991). 
The concept of Accessibility brings the idea of 'everybody's 
possibility to access.' In this way, we include people with any 
kind of difficulty: older adults; people with reduced mobility; 
people with low vision; people with neurological, sensorial or 
physical disability; people who are obese; people of short stat- 
ure; children; women who are pregnant, and so forth. 

Accessibility, according to Brazilian Technical Rules pre- 
supposes the "possibility and condition to safely and autono- 
mously use buildings, spaces and urban equipment" (NBR 
9050, ABNT, 2004). Thus, accessibility to built spaces is more 
than measures for people with any kind of disability, which 
may increase spatial exclusion and separate people. Instead, it 
should encompass social-technical standards to support every 
potential user (Duarte and Cohen, 2004). 

Universal Design. The concept of universal design, accord- 
ing to Preiser and Ostroff (2001), was first used by Ron Mace 
in 1985, and the term has become widespread. Now many en- 
vironmental design professionals and planners have adopted 
the concept of accessibility and terminologies such as "Inclu- 
sive Architecture" and "Inclusive Design." These terms have 
evolved into the broader concept and philosophy of "Universal 
Design." It brings the idea of products, spaces, furniture and 
equipment designed for a larger number of users and represents 
a positive view towards accessibility. It goes beyond architec- 


tural objects to physical, cultural, social or other exclusions. 
Thus, universal design requires more than simply eliminating 
urban barriers. We must think of inclusive space as that which 
allows people to fully experience spaces. 

Accessible Route. "Accessible Route" consists of a barrier- 
free route from origin to destination. It involves a continuity 
and includes accessibility measurements. Thus, for example, 
the existence of ramps or a public counter with appropriate 
height does not insure accessibility if a narrow door blocks the 
route. "Accessible Routes" are essential to the assessment and 
classification of spaces as Inclusive Spaces. 

Spatial Exclusion. The concept of "Spatial Exclusion" de- 
veloped by Duarte and Cohen (1995) considers space as an 
actor that deals with users in the sense of excluding or includ- 
ing them in spatial interfaces. Spatial Exclusion occurs when- 
ever spaces segregate actions or objects to lower importance. 
This becomes the materialization of social exclusion. Inacces- 
sible spaces then act as silencing apartheids that consequently 
generate the segregation of PMDs. As far as PMD are kept 
apart from places in the city, because they cannot use them, 
they face concrete and evident differences from others. This 
situation may lead some people to feel like part of a minority 
group, which may contribute to social exclusion and segrega- 
tion. Thus, even if society speaks of "social inclusion," spatial 
exclusion" may refute the words. Spatial exclusion becomes 
social exclusion. 

Many kinds of barriers may disrupt access and social con- 
tacts. The ability of developing affect for places depends on 
the level of receptiveness those places offer people. An example 
relates to older adults and the difficulty and exhaustion they 
find sometimes in getting around. Feeling tired interferes with 
their enjoyment of places, and can further exacerbate their so- 
cial and spatial exclusion and segregation. Some persons with 
visual disability may fear some urban equipment lacking sig- 
nalization and that fear may lead them to avoid places, thus 
socially excluding them. 

Disadvantage. We teach our students to dialectally explore 
disability. If we understand that every person should have the 
opportunity of experiencing the same places, then the con- 
cept of disability does not embrace whatever we want. Thus, 
we chose to use the concept "Disadvantage." Disadvantage re- 

Universal Design In Brazil 1^3 

suits from an incompatibility between the individual's physi- 
cal and intellectual characteristics and environmental condi- 
tions; something that places one in an unfavorable condition 
or circumstance. For example, if people live in a hilly place and 
want to get downtown faster, they live in an unfavorable condi- 
tion compared to those who live midtown. Hence, we must see 
disability as a contextual situation rather than an unsolvable 
problem. This concept helps us understand that space itself is 
disabled. Many limitations of PMD result from deficiencies of 
spaces rather than a lack of ability the potential user. 

Research Developed by Nucleo Pro-Acesso (Accessibility Research 
Bureau, ARB) 

Taking into consideration the knowledge acquired in many 
years of research, we have started to advise dissertations and 
thesis in the Post grad Studies Program at UFRJ and other 
universities gathering a larger group in the discussion of plan- 
ning 'for all.' From our work, we discovered the need for a 
specific methodology to investigate different spaces, and have 
developed studies and methodological resources to assess plac- 
es including: 

• Accessibility to Academic Spaces of Teaching and Re- 

• Accessibility to Public Spaces 

• Accessibility to Schools 

• Other Research and Post-grad thesis 

Although the studies identified an enormous number of 
barriers, this chapter highlights some common difficulties that 
the research projects discovered. With the results, we could 
develop audit charts to check the complete accessibility of an 
urban or architectural space and to allow plans to eliminate 
the barriers found. The absence of an accessible route suggest 
a fragmented awareness which leaves these spaces unusable by 
PMDs. Some of the adaptations done take into consideration 
parts of the building (such as a bathroom or a classroom), a 
sidewalk or the transport, but plans and designs lack a global 
accessibility project and universal design. 

Accessibility to Academic Spaces of Teaching and Research. 
One research project developed with the support of the State 
Government of Rio de Janeiro, aimed at assessing the acces- 
sibility of PMD to universities in Rio de Janeiro. We hoped 



to benefit the quality of academic life of those people in every 
teaching and research spaces. We focused on some spaces of 

Figure 7.1 School of Education 
with many accessibility barriers, 

Figure 7.2. School of 
Literature with bad 
pavement, UFRJ 

Our field research findings contributed to the perception 
and better evaluation of the situation in UFRJ related to ac- 
cessible spaces. They have also demonstrated the influence of 
physical environment in the construction of a specific social 
identity for PMD who are differentiated by the level of access 
each space offers. 

Two years after the research, our Accessibility Research 
Bureau with the support of the Rectory began to gradually 
eliminate the barriers (a Strategic Plan). This initiative influ- 
enced other universities in the country to follow suit. 

Accessibility to Public Spaces. This project sought to create 
strategies for the improving access to built spaces, contribut- 
ing to a change in Architecture and Urbanism posture - as 
fundamental to the construction of identities. Our survey on 
Accessibility in Public Spaces focused on the interaction of re- 
quirements given by differences. To analyze the structure of 
public spaces we sought Public buildings open to a diversified 
group of the population; buildings showing symbolic values 
according to many citizens; buildings located in areas of easy 
and successful study of the surroundings, public transporta- 
tion, parking areas and crossways-taking into consideration 
access ways and contemplation areas; and the absence of bu- 
reaucratic hindrances for our researchers. 

Universal Design In Brazil 


Based on that, we selected three public buildings for our 
field-research: (1) the Municipal Council of Assemblymen of 
Rio de Janeiro; (2) the School of Application of UFRJ (CApU- 
FRJ); and (3) the Ministry of Education building. We identi- 
fied the accessibility barriers found by PMD in the routes and 
everyday activities in these buildings and their surroundings. 
Considering movement from the interior to the nearest points 
of access to transport and the sidewalks of each place, we found 
that for each building people neede help to walk around. 

Figure 7.3. Route of great flow 
of people on the sidewalks fully 
supplied with garbage cans, ice- 
cream carts and street vendors 
in front of the Municipal 
Council of Assemblymen of RJ. 

Figure 7.4. Ministry of 
Education building: In- 
appropriate pavement 
for people on wheelchairs. 

The barriers should not be seen as local or only in some 
parts of the building. The research led us to see the importance 
of proposing a strong and effective global planning towards 
buildings and surroundings to accomplish the concept of "Ac- 
cessible Route." 

Accessibility to Schools. Sponsored by The State Govern- 
ment of Rio de Janeiro, this project searched for strategies to 
include children with disabilities in public educational spaces 
(called "fundamental schools" in Brazil). The choice of educa- 
tional places arose from our conviction that architecture must 
make spaces with free access to all educational sectors. 

The research showed the importance of a truly inclusive 
architecture for the realization of the social function of pub- 
lic schools. We developed a method for assessing educational 
spaces and indicators for use by all educational sectors in the 
State Government to improve future plans of schools. 







Figure 7.5. Map - Accessibility to the School of Applica- 
tion of UFRJ (CApUFRJ) - Surroundings 

Figure 7.6. Bad sidewalks with exposed tree roots in front 
of CapUFRJ building (left); parking blockers at bus stop 
used by kids of CapUFRJ (center); Narrow sidewalks width 
of 45 cm in some sections (right). 

With the findings we could develop tools for assessing 
accessibility. ARB has begun to work with architects to put 
ideas, theories and research into practice and to transform the 
discourse into the reality of public, academic and educational 
spaces accessible for all. 

Universal Design In Brazil 


Figure 7.7. Unevenness classroom doors and the existence 
of objects stuck to walls without any information on the 
floor (left); labs with fixed tables blocking wheelchairs 
(center); a ramp ending at a step (right). 

Other Research and Post-grad thesis. Our first research and 
the operational life of ARB has stimulated the interest from 
institutional groups linked to UFRJ as well as students in 
the undergraduate and post-grad courses. Now our Research 
Group works to attract interested researchers in developing 
work on accessibility issues. Some of these include: 

• "Environmental Accessibility: From legal disposals to 
the inclusion of PMD" (Fernandino, 2006). This dissertation 
analyses some buildings constructed under the regency of Bra- 
zilian accessibility laws and finds that these laws/rules are not 
enough to create spaces completely agreeable. 

"City, Body and Disability: Possible routes and speeches 
in urban experience" (Cohen, 2006). This thesis outlined 
the use and appropriation of spaces according to the loco- 
motion PMD perform. We sought to develop an interdisci- 
plinary approach of the perception in movement and to take 
into consideration the inter-sensorial dimension of the urban 
experience. For our investigation we have adopted Jean-Paul 
Thibaud's "method of annotated routes," in which local char- 
acteristics are analyzed, mostly, in terms of physical barriers 
to perception. He understands perceiving as an embodiment 
of sensorial elements affected by the type of perceptive mobi- 
lization. The analysis of the urban perception in movement of 
PMD was conducted in four Brazilian cities: Rio de Janeiro, 
Salvador, Juiz de Fora and Brasilia. The data revealed the ex- 
isting paradox between the perceived, experienced and imag- 
ined cities for people. The lack of identification PMD have 


with the places also showed that they cannot improve their 
sense of belonging and appropriation of the city. 

• "Socio-spatial Inclusions of children with Special Needs 
through Rides in Public Plazas" (Carvalho, 2005). This dis- 
sertation explored some ergonomics parameters for children 
between 5 and 12 years-old relating to the parameters with 
some difficulties generated by physical disability. The disserta- 
tion found that: play has the function of integrating children 
with cognitive disabilities; it allows the conquest of spatial- 
ity, enabling children with cognitive disabilities know their 
bodies better and develop notions of balance witch increase 
their self-esteem and emotional stability; and in public pla- 
zas it allows socio-cultural exchanges between families. This 
study opened ways for establishing guidelines for the project 
of "Children' Rides." The guidelines include: 

• Safety: handrail, bars, alert pavements, resistant materi- 
als, protection of the plays with signalization. 

• Accessibility: eliminate barriers, drops, compatible 
width for wheelchairs, and care with circulation. 

• Motors and Intellectuals Stimulus: climb, hang, run, 
dig, hide, feel different textures, live physical sensations, 
win defiance, respect the other, share, memory games. 
(See Rides for Children with Cognitive Disabilities). 

• "Architecture beyond Vision: A consideration over the ex- 
perience in built environment from the perception of con- 
genital blind people" (Paula, 2003). This dissertation started 
from posed the question "what is a good architecture for a 
person who is blind?" It answered by establishing, based on 
perceptual and cognitive processes, several properties desir- 
able for architectural spaces. The research hypothesized that 
architecture has ignored different characteristics for a ordi- 
nary users in the surrounding environment. With the analysis 
of environmental perceptions of people who are blind, the 
research also showed that the experience of the architectural 
space can become richer, more intense and connected to all 
of the senses, and that vision can deceive people leaving them 
with an ambiguous understanding of the environment. The 
dissertation showed that through an intentional plan, one can 
emphasize other senses, giving people a richer environmental 
experience of a space. The conclusions of this work confirmed 
Merleau-Ponty's (1989) statement that, "space is not object of 

Universal Design In Brazil 


vision but of thinking." 

Academic research developed by ARB itself: "Accessibility, 
Identity and Quotidian Life of Citizens with Mobility Dif- 
ficulty: case-study of Rio-Cidade" (Cohen, 1999) analyzed 
urban interventions promoted by selected urbanists in Rio de 
Janeiro during the administration of 1999 Municipal Govern- 
ment. This master dissertation on urbanism raised questions 
related to barriers of accessibility found in the city of Rio de 
Janeiro. Cohen sent questionnaires to 300 people with some 
mobility difficulty. The field research concentrated in the main 
axes of the districts remodeled by the "Rio-City Project." The 

Figure 7.8. Ramps in the main axe of the district of Ip- 
anema — Rio- City Project 

analysis allowed an evaluation of this urban intervention, the 
context in which the project was discussed, and the technical 
solutions. She found that the Program satisfied most of PMD 
who reported that everyday life became better, but some of 
them (16 percent) indicated some dissatisfaction with the de- 
gree to which it met their necessities. 

Tools for Assessing Accessibility 

ARB also developed and refined analysis tools including: 

• Analysis and Description of Routes Chart (Cohen and 
Duarte, 2006) 

• Accessibility Assessment Chart (based on Guimaraes 
and Fernandinho, 2001) 

• Video Registration and Field Notes of Routes (Cohen, 

• Analysis and Description of Route Chart 

We developed an efficient tool for surveying routes. In 


the 'Description of Routes Chart' we select some simple routes 
which are further described for the best verification of ac- 
cessible routes. We numbered the routes so they can be followed in 
schematic maps (buildingplans). One can use this to highlight the real 
situation of specific routes used by people. Sometimes 
we find places of easy access but not relevant if analyzed 
though the holistic concept of "Accessi- 

ble Route" described in the sections which follow. 

Accessibility Assessment Chart. Based on the criteria estab- 
lished for the Accessibility Assessment Chart (Guimaraes e 
Fernandino, 2001), we adapted this tool for the needs of the 
research. We have used these charts to our surveys in schools, 
academic institutions, tourist places and some others. 

The assessment charts indicate, in the first column, the 
number of the registered item in order to ease its identifica- 
tion in future references; in the second column, the specific 
legislation of the analyzed topic (rules, laws or recommenda- 
tions); in the fourth column, the "dimension" of the barrier 
(E=demands elimination-access is not possible; R= recom- 
mendations - only with help access is possible; P=access is pos- 
sible); in the fifth column, whether the item is accessible (yes 
I no); in the sixth column, space for a photographic reference 
to illustrate the space or the element selected; and in the last 
column, space for observers to write personal comments. 

Video Registration and Field Notes of Routes. Based on the 
ethnometodologie (Thibaud, 2001), we tried to improve tools 
for collecting fundamental data about the barriers found, what 
they represent to the PMD's quality of life and to understand 
accessibility matters in their everyday activities. Filming of 
routes through the analyzed spaces allowed us to study the ap- 
prehension, cognition, and behavior in relation to the environ- 
ment. We worked on the strengthening techniques that deal 
with ethnographic data collection (films and photographs). 
Filming proved to be an efficient tool for capturing the richness 
of individual and collective experience of humans in space as it 
preserves the original phenomena which is sometimes difficult 
to observe and record directly. We used digital video-cameras 
and a paper notebook for field notes and sketches. The pa- 
per notebook lets observers register graphic notations, relevant 
data and small schemes of the environment that caught their 
attention during observation period, composing what Cosnier 

Universal Design In Brazil 


(2001) qualifies as "descriptive study of site. 






Routes Description 

Descriptive Assessment Chart of internal routes aiming at assessing the level of accessibility i 

(developed by Nucleo P^a^sso_Bureaji_ with the support [of JfAPER J) 

1 signature 

1 Route 




Quality j 


i A1 

Parking lot 


Parking lot with special places for PMD. ample access-way. ramp with 3% 
of inclination and no indicatbn on floor; corridors with less than 15m of 
length, visible signals; turnstiles in the entrance hall; high shelves, absence 
of DOS-VOX Systems in computers; one of the employees understands 
UBRAS (Brazilian code for people with auditive restrictions). 



i B4 


Children's court 

Corridors with more than 25m of length; the ramp ends on a step, uneven 
floor in the access way to children's court; iron gates with no handles, seats 
have no indication of accessible places for the users. 

j C3 



Physical sports 


Quality of the route 

W = totally accessible 

= barriers are easy to be over 

= barriers ask for others' help 

= barriers are hard to be removed 
and over passed 

= worst conditions of accessibility 

= persons with reduced 

= persons with motor 

= persons with auditive 

= persons with multiple 

Figure 7.9. An example of Descriptive Routes Chart. It is 
usual to apply seven charts of this kind in a single build- 
ing, describing, at least, three selected routes. 

Outreach Activities 

In Nucleo Pro-acesso (Accessibility Research Bureau, ARB) 
we had the opportunity of working on many outreach or ser- 
vice-learning projects. This chapter presents two of them: 

• Accessibility Guide-book; 

• Games for All 

Accessibility Guidebook 

Our proposal towards a specific methodology for the making 
of an Accessibility Guidebook, aimed to offer key information 
on good quality of accessibility to the city and to include Rio 
de Janeiro in the context of world tourist accessible cities. This 
proposal came from our efforts on research and cataloguing 
since 1999 and aims to widen the information about acces- 
sibility. To analyze and estimate inclusive spaces in the city, we 
sought to understand the difficult interfaces between accessi- 
bility places in many cities. The steps of work include cata- 



Library / Media Centers 





O PRO-/ 


il ??«.*/ Accessibility Assessment chart - Libraries and Media Centers 

5SO (developed by Nucleo Pro-acesso Bureau based on Guimaraes & Fernandino's, 2001) 







Accessibility queries 















Is there a percentage of 10% adapted tables for PMD? 






Is there a minimum round area of 1 ,76m 2 in the library for a complete 
360° turn of a wheelchair? 





Is there a minimun width of 90cm for the passage of a person on a 
wheelchair between book shelves? 




Does the counter/reception desk have a maximum 90cm height and 
minimun 90cm length of surface? 




Does the counter/reception desk have a minimum open inferior height of 
73cm from the floor in order to ease frontal approximation? 







Is the height of shelves between 40cm and 120cm from the floor? 





Is there any information regarding alert-pavement next to shelves or 
other obstacles? 





Is there sufficient lillumination of surfaces (more than 200 lux) so as to 
allow labial-readings? 






Do computers have voice synthesizer systems? (Eg Dosvox - created 
by The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro). 






Are there digital samples of books and papers? 




Are indicated titles and themes on shelves written in caps or visible 




Are there Braille indications in bibliographic records? 





Is sound signalling associated to visual signs and signals? 






Do doors have minimum spans of 90cm? 


Figure 7.10. Demonstrative chart. In this example, for a 
better understanding, some assessment items were ignored 
(The original has up to 46 elements). 

loguing, analyzing and making the Guidebook, giving special 
attention to physical, historical and artistic/cultural heritage 
of the city, in the attempt of stimulating the participation of 
PMD in the cultural production of places. 

To guide their assessment of accessible places in the city, 
and to enable the making of similar Guidebook in many cities, 
we gave professionals an extensive set of lectures. 

The steps for making the Accessibility Guidebook in- 

• Recruitment of the team and job assignment; 

• Theoretical-conceptual equalizing on the matter of ac- 
cessibility and on the technical aspects; 

• Selection of the items to research and detail; 

• Contact with institutions that work with PMD to com- 
plement the selected research items; 

• Contact with institutions of culture, leisure, tourism 

Universal Design In Brazil jjg 

and services to complement the list; 

• Scanning and planning field research logbook; 

• Field research of the barriers found in the space and the 
level of accessibility of that place; 

• Data collection and analysis 

• Final layout. 

Moreover, the assessment of accessibility conditions of 
some places and tourist attractions will be done through a 
pre-established check-list, guided by a previous survey with 
items on specific issues related to the city of Rio de Janeiro to 
complement the information supplied by the Guidebook. This 
phase derives from the concept of Accessible Route that guides 
the classification of inclusive tourist spots. 

Other phases of the Guidebook refer to compiling col- 
lected field-data and transcription into text and symbol for- 
mat; elaborating maps and plans; preparation of a list of pho- 
tographs to include; photographing; selection of photographs, 
maps, plans and drawings to include; revising the whole texts; 
transcription into Braille; visual programming, formatting 
and final art; photolites; and preparation of useful data for 
future versions in English and Spanish, as well as into CD- 
ROM version. 

Figure 7.11. Photoshop handling of a desired situation (still 
impossible to come true): a PMD enjoying the wonderful 
scenery of the 'Sugar LoafVRJ (photo by Cristiane Duarte; 
source: Nucleo Pro-acesso) 

The information displayed on the Guide-book, with the aid 
of good layout, aims at easing the use of it by older people or 
people who have reduced mobility with hands. This approach 
supports the premise of creating a clear, updated guidebook 
easy for anyone to use. 



Figure 7.12. Older people have difficulty in going down- 
stairs Museu da Republica, Rio de Janeiro (Source: Nucleo 

In this way, we created the mock-up of a 4.2" x 8.27" 
format which allows the easy handling by people with motor 
disabilities and by people who wish (and need) to hold the 
guide-book in one hand and have a magnifying glass in the 
other. We concluded that these dimensions would benefit both 
size and illustrations lay out. 

Besides illustrations and photographs, the use of maps will 
be constant in order to indicate the accessible and partially- ac- 
cessible routes in the surroundings of the listed attractions. 

The legend is on the 
edge of the 
guidebook cover 


&• accessible for persons on wheelchair 
& accessible with help for persons 

t accessible for blind people 
/ accessible for deaf people 
f> inaccessible for people on wheelchair 
X inaccessible for bind people 
st, inaccessible for deaf people 

'( &# 


#*>y * 

- -" yyyx 



b. fe." * ' t 

no«v*goas5Lo C»pc**Cr*r«M»3. < 

Figure 7.13a (left). Experimental guide-book: The cover 
unfolds and shows an internal detachable flap where one 
may find the main captions with the adopted symbols 
(Source: Nucleo Pro-acesso) 

Figure 7.13b (right). Samples of informational pages clas- 
sified by accessibility levels (Source: Nucleo Pro-acesso) 

Universal Design In Brazil 



H^ammme *,/>/< 

tMau «t wcw» »».««"•*. 





»*»■■*»«» ; 


Figure 7.13. Samples of pages giving information about 
Catete (zoning area) and access to Museu da Republica 
(copyright Nucleo Pro-acesso) 

This will add extra relevance to information offered in the 
texts that refer to each attraction, tourist spot or service. The 
Guide-book will come with a CD ROM sample, followed by a 
DOS VOX software for computer downloading. 

Rides for Children with Cognitive Disabilities 

The study and elaboration of accessible rides prototypes for 
Children with Cognitive Disabilities (CCD) was another 
outreach project developed out of several such projects we 
did with the partnership of the Environment Municipal 
Office and the City Hall Department of Parks and Gardens 
in Rio de Janeiro. Although, due to political constraints, we 
could not complete this project as we had intended, we did 
gather much information and developed drawings and sketch- 
es to test these rides. 

CCD differ in their ability to develop the physical, mental 
and sensorial aptitudes. They have the same dream of using ar- 
eas of plazas and parks in the city, playing with the other kids, 
and feeling as if they are one of them. We observed that they 
usually have no prejudice against other children and naturally 
behave with differences. Then, we realized that the encourage- 
ment to socialize with various children's groups in public areas 
of the city can reduce the level of prejudice and culturally/so- 
cially including CCD in the process of socialization - usually 
common for those with no restrictions and/or limitations. 

This project arose from the three principles: 1) Children's 
games work as integration elements among children. 2) Rides 



allow spatial conquest and make children with cognitive dis- 
abilities understand their bodies and gain notions of balance 
and harmony, which enhances their self-esteem and emotional 
integrity. 3) Rides in public plazas allow children to interact 
with their families. 

The beneficiaries of this project are not only children with 
some physical, mental or sensorial disability and their families, 
but also society. We outline the importance of user participa- 
tion and interaction in the planning of design guidelines. In 
general, the experience of differences enables the enrichment 
of social interactions and generates new ways for experiencing 

We first contacted people of national and international in- 
stitutions that have already developed analogous works; then, 
we set out parameters for each area of disability, according 
to statements of those children with special needs. With the 
data we have collected we believe we can reach our goal of 
1) building a prototype ride that is to be used by every single 
child, and 2) conducting a pilot project of a totally accessible 

E scalar, escorregar, brincar... 

Figure 7.14. Samples of accessible rides prototypes for 
Children with Special Needs (CCD). 

plaza, which takes into consideration the different necessities, 
wishes and aptitudes developed by children according to the 
principles of diversity widely spread, but rather contemplated 
by society. 

The project "children's rides for those with special needs" 
may be considered pioneer in this thematic area, stimulating 
the diffusion and adoption of similar rules in other areas of the 
city of Rio de Janeiro and some other places in Brazil, showing 

Universal Design In Brazil jj7 

that "it is possible to shelter differences when playing." 

The Teaching of Accessibility and Universal Design in the 
Undergraduate Course of Architecture 

Our teaching experiences in the undergraduate course of Ar- 
chitecture and Urbanism started with workshops and techni- 
cal advice to the development of academic works in disciplines 
of design. We realized that these activities were not efficient 
for the students to understand the real dimension of the social, 
cultural and behavioral factors related to the design for people 
with disabilities. 

The students still considered accessibility as a mere ques- 
tion of technical dimensioning to respond for "another rule 
that inhibits freedom in design," as if it were a guidebook for 
construction. Thus, four years ago, we decided to institute a 
specific discipline "Inclusive Methods and Techniques for De- 
sign" related to Accessibility and Universal Design in the scope 
of the curriculum of Architecture course at UFRJ. The course 
lasts one-semester with one four-hour class every week. To 
avoid students' lack of motivation to finish the studies, main- 
tain the needed enthusiasm, and achieve a productive teach- 
ing-learning process we formulated a dynamic method which 
mixed theory and design practice. 

Typically during a regular class, the student is invited to 
make a draft of a students' refectory in half an hour. As they 
had been introduced to concepts of accessibility in the previ- 
ous classes they usually make their plans based on parameters 
that respond to the difficulties of PMD's locomotion. After 
that, students "try out" the physical and emotional aspects of 
disability in the space they have drawn. This exercise is an en- 
riching experience because, in spite of its apparent simplicity 
and ease, it succeeds in awakening students' minds to the 
many mistakes in design that create insurmountable obstacles 
for people; and it allows students to consolidate questions 
studied in the first module. 

The students wear a bandage over the eyes, as if they were 
blind. After some stumbles and falls, they get aware of "an- 
other" reality. Getting back to classroom they listen to some 
invited lecturers which describe their visual difficulties and 
disabilities. Then students are invited to reorganize their plans 
making use of high relief glue so they can discuss it with the 


blind lecturers. 

Based on the "surprise factor" and linking students' expe- 
riences to the teaching of architectural design, we could reach 
our objectives, which include: sensitizing architecture students 
to the architectural and environmental implications of design- 
ing for human diversity; searching for a humanistic view of the 
profession; supporting plans for city spaces that aim at the par- 
ticipation of users with mobility difficulty; and demonstrating 
that socio-spatial inclusion can be compatible with exemplary 

The distribution of this didactic content during the semes- 
ter follows a sequence that has a theoretical module, experi- 
ence module or spatial experience, conferences module, and 
design module. 

Theoretical module 

The student is introduced to the concepts of Accessibility and 
Universal Design. Notions of spatial segregation and stigma 
are discussed and it is suggested a reflection over the impor- 
tance of built spaces as agents that congregate differences. 

Experience module or spatial experience 

Some exercises are organized to make students experience 
physical, perceptive and emotional aspects of people with mo- 
bility difficulty. Students wear bandages over their eyes, use 
wheelchairs or canes and get surprised with the great difficulty 
they have in getting through or around architectural barriers 
they previously did not notice. 

For wheelchair use, we first had discussion to extract 
from our students the most crowded and the favorite places on 
campus. Groups of two or three students select a list of tasks 
they usually perform in those spaces. Each group received a 
wheelchair, a bandage for the eyes, an ear lid, and a cane. The 
exercise begins with an activity such as visiting the library, or 
having lunch at the university dining-hall. 

Afterwards, discussion of the experience revealed that each 
deficiency observed requires a specific architectural response. 
They also see the necessity of complementing one response 
with others, to avoid excluding other with a disability. 

Universal Design In Brazil 



is ' ^^1 



m m 

1 . ' 


L ^i 

Figures 7.15. Samples of the workshop with students. Spa- 
tial experience module: Students move on wheelchairs, 
wear bandages over the eyes or over the ears. They feel 
different because of architectural barriers. 

The experience awakens students to the psycho-social 
matters that inevitably follow the confrontation with the lack 
of accessibility. The students express feelings of frustration, 
shame, fear, insecurity, lack of independence and autonomy. 
For examples students reported feeling: powerless when un- 
able to go to specific academic spaces; shame when asking 
for help when it's necessary; confusion on getting lost in open 
and ample spaces because of visual disability; tiredness gener- 
ated by walking on ill-paved surfaces; constant fear of falling 
down; frustration of being on wheelchairs and not seeing ob- 
jects placed on higher shelves; fear of not hearing fire alarms 
and sensation of exclusion when not listening to what people 
talk; and indignation with some reactions-attitudes of pity- 
and sensation of being pointed as different. 



Figures 7.16a, b. The workshop in the School of Architec- 
ture and Urbanism - UFRJ. 

Conferences module 

We invite some lecturers, especially those with different kinds 
of mobility problems, to talk to students,. They make evident 
that spatial exclusion exists and explain their necessities in 
terms of architectural design, also giving personal suggestions 
on the accomplishment of students' plans and talk about ar- 
chitectural barriers that lead them to spatial segregation. 

Figure 7.17. Lecturer who is blind Figure 7.18. Person who 

speaks to students about the is blind testing the 

difficulties from inaccessible spaces in the architectural 

architecture. plan. 

Design module 

At the end of the semester the module of design is intensified 
in relation to the theoretical taught and experience exercises. 
That is the time when we ask for the development of an archi- 
tectural program to be followed in individual plans. First, the 
students produce a short biography for imaginary clients and 
are stimulated to choose clients with disability. Trie 'budget' 

Universal Design In Brazil 


Figure 7.19 a, b. Design Module — working with architecture 
and urban projects in the classroom. 

for this exercise is considered to be unlimited. Then, they must 
develop an architectural program to shape the form of the proj- 
ect. To improve skills for this exercise, we invite people with 
mobility difficulties to visit the classrooms and informally chat 
with the students. Students should be trained from the start to 
see their clients as a partner in the design process. 

Finally, they make a collective exhibition of projects, to 
spread the experiences to other students and faculty. The dis- 
cipline has a multiplying power. Many students enrolled in 
it also elected accessible plans, rehabilitation centers and resi- 
dences for older adults as their final design studios. 

The teaching method has shown some encouraging results 
in creating, with our students, a comprehension of the archi- 
tect's social function as partly responsible for the elimination 
of differences and for the quality of life of every citizen. 

For this experience we received, in 2002, an international 
award given by the European Association for Architecture 
Teaching-the EAAE Prize Competition, an extra special hon- 
or, as we were the only non-European laureate institution. This 
encouraged us to continue our methods for teaching inclu- 
sive design and keep up with developments. This international 
acknowledgement recognized us as being on a different level 
of excellence compared to other research groups in Brazil. It 
also noted that only through hard work could we construct 
a qualitative teaching method in the field of accessibility and 
universal design. 

Results and Conclusions 

Our work has found that the Brazilian planning situation lacks 
a wider view for the implementation of accessibility and uni- 
versal design. Most spaces in Brazilian cities cannot be used, 


experienced and inhabited by every citizen. We have verified 
the many barriers still found in places where PMD develop 
their quotidian activities. We still have social barriers and ex- 
clusion of these people from society. 

Brazil has some of the most advanced legislation and tech- 
nical rules to guarantee accessibility for PMD; and some uni- 
versities and schools have adopted new paradigms for the in- 
clusion of every person in their spaces. The acceptance of our 
Research Group represents an important achievement. 

The improvement, consolidation and outspreading of Nii- 
cleo Pro-acesso (Accessibility Research Bureau, ARB) has in- 
cited this process. Our work focuses on new perspectives that, 
one can transform into sources of diffusion of a new material- 
ized culture. We aim to do it through academic activities we 
have been developing, practicing and seeding throughout Bra- 
zil. An important evaluations regards the evidence of the ne- 
cessity of this approach in faculties of architecture all around 
the world. Our teaching method at UFRJ demonstrates these 
changes. Some students have incorporated solutions for spatial 
inclusion in their professional lives. In Post-grad studies it is 
also greater the interest for research, dissertations and doctor- 
ate thesis related to accessibility, universal design, perception 
and environmental experience of PMD. 

We have also stimulated the accomplishment of interdis- 
ciplinary research. For example, the National Seminar Acces- 
sibilidade no Cotidiano (Accessibility in Quotidian Life) held 
in 2004 in Rio de Janeiro showed the state-of-art of the re- 
search in accessibility in Brazil and produced a list of goals for 
getting it implemented. We plan to support extensive courses 
for design professionals— from the second semester of 2006, 
on-contributing to the construction of a new vision in spatial 
planning. Although we still face extensive challenges in Brazil, 
the changes derived from our activities leads us to believe that 
we will continue to make progress. 

We have witnessed many great scientific, technological 
and cultural improvements which arise-directly or indirectly- 
from academic inventiveness and competence, a foundation of 
cultural diffusion and opinion-making in Brazil. Universities 
should create informed citizens and qualified professionals. 
They should rethink their missions to respond to the needs of 
their time, and pursue alternatives based on equality, liberty 

Universal Design In Brazil Izj 

and fellowship. 

We hope our work will be an agent of spreading informa- 
tion on accessible facilities for people with disabilities and to 
allow the whole urban population to live with human diversity 
in the spaces, be it a building or the city. To avoid spatial exclu- 
sion we ought to design for all according to universal design. 

Once people considered it enough to install a ramp for per- 
sons who use wheelchairs, to enable them to get into a build- 
ing, and enough to provide special elevators for those who use 
wheelchairs, or separate restrooms. Now, it is common to have 
a comfortable single restroom for any kind of person. Using 
universal design can create pleasant experiences for everyone 
with or without a disability in public and private places in our 

Research in the field can provide fundamental tools in 
the generation of new directions that aim at a profitable and 
comfortable improvement for every human being. Starting to 
eliminate barriers, foreseeing new facilities and finding solu- 
tions for built environment can enable us to integrate PMD 
into society. If these actions are neglected, public spaces will 
represent the crystallization of disability itself. 

This research also complements a line of investigation 
turned to the inclusion of the theme into Architecture and 
Urbanism courses. The concreteness of the acts that have been 
developed by ARB seeks to build new minds in the planners 
of future cities. We hope these future architects and urban de- 
signers will work for the elimination of physical barriers as well 
as social, cultural, political and bureaucratic. 

In this context, we believe that inclusive spaces can provide 
PMD with the sense of safety, workability and freedom in mo- 
bility to guide his or her actions and find a balanced relation 
with the outside world. We hope this chapter and the tools we 
created can help professionals in Brazil and in other countries 
in this process to create integrated places with a positive social 
impact in our cities. 


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Home Remodeling in the Thai Context 

Universal Design Guidelines to 
Accommodate Wheelchair Occupants 
in the Thai Context 

Antika Sawadsri 


Universal design has been adopted by many environmental de- 
sign researchers. How well do the guidelines fit the distinct 
socio-cultural contexts. This research considered how west- 
ern universal design guidelines on space, form, and function 
fit in with the distinct socio-cultural context of a developing 
country, Thailand. The present study found a distinctive issues 
in applying western universal design guidelines to the Thai 
context. This chapter suggests that implications of residential 
modification according to universal design concepts need to 
be carefully considered on distinctive socio-cultural factors, 
including the nature of behavior of people with disabilities and 
the research method in built-environment discipline. 

This chapter seeks to understand if the way Thai people with 
disabilities live at home differs from the way people in the west 
do and how that may affect universal design guidelines. Envi- 
ronmental design for people with disabilities in Thailand has 
focused on solutions for physical impairment. It deals more 
with how to overcome the limitations of physical impairment 
than on how to modify the physical environment to serve peo- 
ple with different abilities. 

Design for people with disabilities has focused on elimi- 
nating physical barriers, yielding solutions that have trans- 
formed living spaces into nursing homes. This type of solution 
does not answer co-residents' views on accessible homes. Dob- 
kin and Peterson's (1999) example of the critical attitude of 
non-disabled family members highlights the tension, in which 
the daughter whose aging mother has a physical impairment 
asked when confronted with unpleasant home modification 
"Why couldn't she try harder?' I wondered. 'Did she want 
me to change my home to a nursing facility?'" Thus, designs 
aiming to create accessible homes need to consider whether 
changes are acceptable to people with the disabilities and their 


co -residents. 

The universal design concepts studied here aims to cre- 
ate accessible places, especially in homes. It underpins Thai 
legislation on disabilities and accessibility. Implementation 
requires careful consideration of the distinct human size and 
shape, as well as the socio-cultural aspect, of people with dis- 
abilities and their co-residents. On all counts, these differ from 
western models. 

This study explored two questions: 

1) To what extent can Thailand implement the universal 
design concept in the distinct Thai cultural context? 

2) What behavior, spatial needs, and optimal spatial size 
and shape should the design have to accommodate Thai people 
with disabilities? 

Why the Universal Design Concept? 

"Universal design is the design of products and environments 
to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, with- 
out the need for adaptation or specialized design" (Mace, 

This idea gives the impetus to this study, focusing on the 
new paradigm that questions the importance of built environ- 
ment itself as the crucial factor that supports or impedes users 
(Steinfield and Danford, 1999). Previously, design for barrier- 
free environments and accessible places for people with disabil- 
ities concentrated on legal, economic, and social forces, mostly 
based on the needs of the person with a disability. Design ad- 
vocates sought to renovate buildings by providing accessible 
features, such as providing at least one toilet with wider space, 
grab bars on all sides, and special features to assist an older 
adult or person with a disability in each restroom. However, 
these alternative and new fittings may have overlooked aes- 
thetics and not fit into the building. Fears of market declines 
associated with such modifications have led to the avoidance 
of installing too much assistive technology. Instead, the mar- 
ket has turned to design that focuses on meeting the needs of 
a broader range of abilities where less special technology or 
modification is needed. 

Universal design is not a design style, but an orientation 
to any design process that starts with a responsibility to the 
experience of the users. 

Home Remodeling in the Thai Context 111. 

Universal design emphasizes accessibility and seeks to ac- 
commodate a wide range of people. Unlike in the West, in 
the Thai socio-cultural context people commonly live in the 
extended rather than nuclear family. A Thai family may have 
family members from a grandmother to a new born baby, with 
a range of sizes, shapes, and abilities. To what extent do Uni- 
versal design guidelines meet the needs of the full family? 


This study had three stages, each using different methods: 

1) A Post- Occupancy Evaluation (POE) of the fit of the 
environment with the behavior of people with disabilities; 

2) An experiment to evaluate the optimal spatial size and 
shape of people with disabilities; and 

3) Structured, closed-end questionnaires to determine the 
level of satisfaction among co-residents for housing modifica- 
tion in accordance with existing universal design guidelines. 

The POE assessed the area and user satisfaction to identify 
the need for spatial modification. It focused on the character- 
istics of space that affected the living behaviors of persons with 
a disability. It used in-depth interviews, open-ended questions, 
and photographs of existing conditions to uncover problems, 
difficulties, barriers, and spatial needs encountered by the sub- 
jects in their daily domestic lives. The analysis showed the type 
of spatial behavior that affects the spatial sizes and needs. 

The experiment on optimal spatial size and shape adopted 
Lantrip's (1999) Body Motion Envelope (BME) to measure 
movements in living areas of people with a disability. It used 
anthropometric measurements and biomechanical methods to 
assess the needed spatial size for a human body performing 
tasks. It examined different human body sizes and shapes to 
ameliorate the fit between the human body and space in the 
built environment. For example, body size impacts the width 
of entrance doors as well as the height of counter tops. Biome- 
chanical measurement determines the power-use level needed 
to control equipment, such as the range of reach needed to 
open a door, the level of energy used while accessing a ramp by 
wheelchair, and so on (Steinfield, 1999). 

Following the work of Sanford and Megrew (1999), this re- 
search created mock-up environments to investigate the actual 
spatial needs of people with disabilities. One must measure 



both objective and subjective points of view. This meant that 
experiments with mock-up spaces involved video recording 
the movements of people doing tasks from above, observing 
constraints, and using questionnaires to find their perceptions 
of safety and difficulty while performing tasks. The question- 
naire, adapted from Lantrip's (1999) Enviro-FIM (Environ- 
ment Functional Independence Measurement) used a five- 
point Likert scales to define the users' comfort levels (i.e., from 
very easy to very difficult). This stage also obtained measures 
of the area that people with disabilities occupied and needed 
to perform their activities. The BME method assessed charac- 
teristics from the video recording and traced the area around 
human bodies when moving while they did activities such as 
shifting from wheelchair to furniture, washing hands in a ba- 
sin, and moving objects between two opposite sides of fur- 
niture. The BME encompasses an area that provides enough 
space to finish an activity. Figure 8.1 shows an example of the 
BME measurement. It shows the envelope drawn around the 
occupied space of each person with a disability's body while 
performing a given task. 

wk n ii 



i m.u. 

1 eif-Jf tflM 



1 m.u. 

i m.u. 

$ m.u. 

i m.u. ' 


i m.u. 

1 m.u. 

1 M.U. 

1 m.u. 

i m.u. 

Figure 8.1. The contour of envelope around the space in 
the BME experiment, a volunteer shifting himself from 
his wheelchair to a bed (Source: Experiment, December, 

A final stage used quantitative measures. Questionnaires 
explored in depth the attitude toward home modification of 
co-residents who live with people with disabilities. The ques- 
tions used semantic differential scales, with choices referring 
to the satisfactory level of acceptance of the proposed home 
modification guidelines derived from the experiment. Figure 
8.2 shows the sequence of the BME method. Figures 8.2 (top 

Home Remodeling in the Thai Context 


right and bottom left) show the optimal space required by a 
person who uses a wheelchair, and Figures 8.2 (bottom left 
and bottom right) show the optimal kitchen space proposed to 
co-residents to ask for their acceptance of home modification. 
Respondents indicated their acceptance of the modification. 

rtTTt-rm-* 1 •' i " 1 " ! t 


1 til ill 

I H*rrTT 


iiU J44i U 444UUU4|i-Uli44|U4lJ4J444-i 
ittt±X.:inUitt : iti: 4tn:d :, l::ij.u4. ::::;:;.: 


Figure 8.2. Four-stage sequence of the BME method 
(Source: experiment, December, 2002). 


This study selected people with disabilities who have mobil- 
ity impairments and use wheelchairs to live their daily lives. 
They make up forty-seven percent of the population with dis- 
abilities in Thailand (National Statistics Office, 2001, Report 
of Disabled Persons Survey, Thailand). Thirty-one households 
in Bangkok and surrounding areas took part in both the field 
survey and the opened-end questionnaires. 

A second group included wheelchair users who were will- 
ing to volunteer for an experiment investigating the optimal 


spatial characteristics in residential areas. This experiment had 
three groups of activities: circulating wheelchairs around living 
spaces, shifting from wheelchairs to other pieces of furniture, 
and doing daily activities while sitting in wheelchairs. The in- 
vestigator studied the optimal sizes and shapes for fifteen dif- 
ferent tasks found in existing households in the field survey. 

To analyze attitudes toward the acceptance of housing 
modifications, a final sample group involved co-residents liv- 
ing with wheelchair users. The investigator distributed closed- 
end questionnaires to 563 people. 44.8 percent responded. 

Environmental- behavior of Thai People with Disabilities 
in Domestic Spaces 

The field observation (n = 31) found that 54.8 percent of the 
people with disabilities lived in extended families and 61.0 
percent lived in detached houses, with 84 percent of these 
households having arranged sleeping areas on the ground 
floor for the disabled member. The POE revealed that resi- 
dents had modified significant areas, particularly for ramps at 
entrances, and widening interior circulation routes. The field 
survey found that most households faced financial problems 
and problems due to limitations of existing home plans. Fur- 
thermore, contractors (not architects) designed and built 90 
percent of the houses in the study. This suggests that hom- 
eowners need special knowledge. These issues, therefore, have 
resulted in struggles for home modification. Figure 8.3 shows 
a practical solution in the existing conditions, an easy-made 
ramp at the entrance door (left) and a widened interior circula- 
tion route (right) for a wheelchair user. 

90 percent of the thirty-one households said that they 
preferred to adapt the available features or furniture in their 
homes to assist them in completing daily activities, for exam- 
ple, relocating a metal chair (Figure 8.4) from the garden to 
the bathroom because it works well in a wet area and is more 
stable than a plastic chair. 

Non-structured interviews revealed that residents, and in 
particular wheelchair users, preferred to adapt their existing 
furniture and use assistive equipment rather than paying for 
a specially designed piece of furniture which may cost more. 
New features designed specifically for persons with disabil- 

Home Remodeling in the Thai Context 


Figure 8.3. Existing home modification of residential areas 
of wheelchair users (left: ramp; right: widened circulation) 
(Source: Field survey, September 2002). 

Figure 8.4. A shower chair, reused from the garden chair 
(Source: Feld survey, September 2002). 

ities seemed like a stigma to them. Furthermore, they wished 
to maintain the traditional appearance of their homes. 

The characteristics of spatial size and shape, affected by 
spatial behavior, emerged in three different sets: the interior 
route the wheelchair users followed around their living spac- 
es, the space required by wheelchair users to shift from their 
wheelchairs to furniture, and the clearance spaces around fur- 
niture needed to perform daily activities in wheelchairs. 



Type of Spatial Behavior Physical Barriers 
Circulating wheelchair 

- Direct route 

- Turning point areas 

- Clearance for turning back 

Approach to furniture 

- Steps over two 

- Width of interior 
routes less than 80 

- Limited space at 
corners around furniture 

- Steepness of 

Factors that Impact Home 

- Limitations of housing 

- Financial difficulties 

- Degree and time of 

- Skill in using wheelchairs 

Shifting from wheelchair to - Clearance around 
furniture (e.g., to bathing furniture 
chair, bed, toilet, or car (in a 

- Height differences 
between wheelchairs 
and furniture (e.g., 
wheelchair and seating, 
wheelchair and 

- Limitations of housing 

Financial difficulties 

Doing activities while 
sitting in wheelchair 

- Moving objects on tables 

- Clearance and height 
of furniture tops 

- Distance between 
pieces of furniture 

- Degree and time of 

- Skill in using wheelchairs 

- Reaching ranges of 
wheelchair users 

- Financial difficulties 

- Using wash basins, sinks, or - Width of cabinet doors - Types and configurations of 
stoves the houses that affect interior 

furniture layout 

- Opening cabinet doors 

- Transferring objects 
between pieces of furniture 

Table 8.1. The physical barriers and factors of home mod- 
ification according to the spatial behaviors found in the 

When asked what characteristic of behavior would most 
affect the spatial configuration and spatial needs in residential 
areas, respondents mentioned three sets of items: 1) activities 
about shifting the person with a disability from wheelchair to 

Home Remodeling in the Thai Context ]^_ 

furniture, such as a toilet, bathing chair, bed, or car; 2) char- 
acteristics of the circulation route connecting each area, such 
as width, clearance around a door, turning point, and, most 
importantly, steepness of ramp and slope; and 3) spatial behav- 
ior with regard to daily activities while sitting in a wheelchair, 
such as moving an object between two positions of furniture 
and reaching range while doing an activity on top of a table, 
on cabinets in a kitchen, sink, and wash basin. Table 8.1 shows 
the detail of each characteristic, describes the relationship be- 
tween the behavior of wheelchair users, and the physical bar- 
riers in residential areas, all of which affect home modification 
from the factors that were uncovered in this study. 

The in-depth interviews also revealed the importance of 
considering less typical factors that affect the necessity of home 
modification. These include the level and time of impairment, 
an individual's skill in using a wheelchair, the physical barriers 
that resulted from housing configuration (i.e., the house lay- 
out that affects the arrangement of the furniture), the income 
rate of each household, the status of the wheelchair user in the 
family, and the need of housing adaptation of the person with 
a disability him or herself. 

Although the issue of the status of the wheelchair user 
was unexpected, it revealed that in cases in which the wheel- 
chair user owned the house, the house experienced consider- 
able modification. For example, in thirteen of the thirty-one 
households the homeowner had the disability. These residents 
renovated and modified their homes in many areas (e.g., ramps 
at main entrances, lifts, no steps in interior routes, and adapted 
heights of furniture, such as the level of toilets ( Figure 8.5). 

The example of the status of a wheelchair user discussed 
above was one of several hidden dimensions. The solution of 
accessibility, therefore, cannot solely consider the physical as- 
pect. In addition, an individual needs play a significant factor 
in the extent of residential modification. 


This investigation found a distinctive result that differs from 
western universal design guidelines. The closed-end questions 
about factors affecting home modification decisions showed 
that many respondents consider housing modification that 



Figure 8.5. Existing housing adaptation where the wheel- 
chair users are homeowners (Source: Field survey, Septem- 
ber 2002). 

should meet the need of a family member with a disability 
even if it may lessen the aesthetic of their house. Few expressed 
concern about aesthetic aspect. This contrasts with the western 
view, in which the appearances of residential spaces and their 
accessibility is important, as well as the need to ameliorate and 
fit the environment (Mace, 1999) or to do it invisibly. 

This study also found that the human sizes and shapes 
of wheelchair users differ from those suggested by the west- 
ern universal design guidelines. For example, an experiment 
testing the steepness of ramps found that wheelchair users in 
Thailand prefer the ramp at 1:8 rather than the recommended 
1:12 because 1:8 is shorter and requires less energy. 

The data also revealed that the reported intimacy between 
a co-resident without a disability with a wheelchair user and 
a wheelchair user oneself had an affect on the level of accep- 
tance of housing modification. For example, a co-resident who 
married to a person with a disability felt that a modification 
was more necessary than did a cousin. The restriction of home 
plans also affected the approval of home modifications. Co- 
residents who lived in the detached houses accepted ramp 
modifications, whereas co-residents who lived in townhouses 
found it is more difficult to do so. 

Home Remodeling in the Thai Context j_±_ 


In the Thai context, people without disabilities who are in- 
volved with disability view the need of people with disabilities 
as important as the expense of housing modification. This dif- 
fers from the western context, which considers that the built 
environment should serve all people while also considering 

The findings also suggest that design must consider hidden 
socio-cultural dimensions. For example, many people did not 
modify their areas because they expected to recover and they 
wanted to keep their houses looking "normal." Additionally, 
some residents viewed their homes as a heritage to pass to a 
future generation, so they did not want to change them. 

The findings also suggest the importance of the extended 
family in the Thai context. Unlike the nuclear family pattern 
in the West, in Thailand people with disabilities do not live 
independently, but with their extended family. 

The application of residential modification according to 
western universal design concepts needs careful consideration 
for the distinctive nature of people with disabilities in terms of 
social psychology, familial background, the extent of disabili- 
ties, and the specific needs required by each of the individual 
residents. Further work should consider a broader group of 
people with disabilities. We need considerably more research 
to determine the universal design guidelines as they relate to 
different socio-cultural conditions. 


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Mace, R. L. (1990). Definition of Accessible, Adaptable and 
Universal design, [Online] Available: http: //www. design. 

Mace, R. L. (1999). Universal design in Housing, [Online] 
Available: http: //www. universal. 

National Statistics Office (2001) Report of Disabled Persons 


Survey of Thailand [Online] Available: http://www.apcd- 

Steinfeld, E. (1994). Trie Concept of Universal design. New 
York. Center for Inclusive Design & Environmental Ac- 
cess State University of New York at Buffalo. 

Steinfeld, E., & Danford, S. (Eds.). (1999). Enabling En- 
vironments: Measuring the Impact of Everyday Environ- 
ment on. Disability and Rehabilitation. Berlin, Germany: 

United Nation and United Nations Centre for Human 
Settlements (Habitat). (1981). Designing with Care, 
Sweden. Swedish International Development Authority 

Universal Design in the Institutional Setting 

Universal Design in the Institutional 
Setting: Weaving a Philosophy into 
Campus Planning 

L. Scott Lissner 


An effective campus master plan serves an institution's stra- 
tegic and academic plans, mapping them onto the campus so 
that the environment supports and expresses the university's 
mission (Abramson & Burnap, 2006; Walleri, Becker & Lynn, 
2002). The importance of effective planning and the processes 
that support it increase during periods of rapid growth. In 
2002, construction on U.S. college and university campuses 
reached a 31 -year high, and current industry analysis predicts 
even higher levels by 2009, when new construction should 
peak at 34.5 million sq. ft. (Kennedy & Boothroyd, 2006). 
Levels of construction at The Ohio State University (OSU) 
reflect the national building boom. Since being hired in Janu- 
ary 2000 as the university's Americans with Disabilities Act 
Coordinator, this chapter's author has actively participated in 
the planning and design process. 

This chapter explores how one can use the philosophy 
and principles of universal design as a basis for developing an 
institutional approach that bridges academic, strategic, and 
campus planning. Highlighting the holistic nature of effective 
planning and design, the chapter identifies malleable variables, 
key points in the process where change is possible, effective, 
and likely to influence policies by shifting the institutional 
planning philosophy. After setting the context, the chapter 
describes specific elements and activities to use to encourage 
universal design over code compliance approaches at both a 
building and campus scale in other institutional settings. 

Historical Context 

Like many universities in the United States, OSU established 
an Office for Disability Services (ODS) (http://www.ods.ohio-* during the mid-seventies to implement ^Sectjon 


504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. By 1990, after the ADA 
had passed, the number of students with disabilities expanded 
and the university anticipated a wider participation by indi- 
viduals with disabilities in employment and other university 
activities. As had occurred elsewhere, ODS became an office 
focused exclusively on student access issues (Lissner, 2005). 

OSU allocated compliance responsibility within nine ma- 
jor administrative areas of the university (Facilities & Planning, 
Student Affairs, Human Resources, Medical Center, and the 
regional campuses). For each area, OSU assigned an employee 
to take on this responsibility in addition to their existing du- 
ties. This left ODS as the only unit charged exclusively with 
focusing on disability and access, but it narrowed its mission 
and made the scope of its authority to student access unclear. 
This compartmentalized approach to disability policy resulted 
in unclear lines of authority and inconsistent approaches to 
access. By the late 1990s, students and faculty brought atten- 
tion to the lack of coordination arising from the decentral- 
ized approach. In January of 2000, the university hired its first 
full time Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordina- 
tor, who reports to the Provost and develops and coordinates 
policy and compliance for disability across the spectrum of the 
university's activities and facilities ( 

As disability policies have evolved, other changes set the 
stage. From 1993 to 1995, OSU developed a comprehensive 
Master Plan ( Between 
1998 and 2000, it developed an Academic Plan (http://www. These plans provided 
direction for the emerging campus construction boom that 
peaked in 2005. As the first full time ADA Coordinator for 
the university, the author has been a participatory observer in 
an extensive building program, a process development, and the 
updating of the university's academic and master plans. 

Campus Context 

OSU, a public research institution with the highest single cam- 
pus enrollments in the nation, has a large and diverse popula- 
tion, and a large and varied infrastructure. Currently, it enrolls 
59,091 students overall (51,816 in Columbus) and employs 
38,198 individuals in 928 buildings on 15,655 acres at loca- 
tions around Ohio ( 

Universal Design in the Institutional Setting 





Columbus Campus 



Lima, Mansfield, Marion, & 
Newark Campuses 



Ohio Agriculture Research & 
Development Center & the Agri- 
cultural Technical Institute 



Molly Caren Agricultural Center 



Don Scott Airport 



Golf Courses 









Table 9.1. Overview of OSU's Campus 

In addition to academic buildings, research labs, agricultur- 
al facilities, and residence halls, OSU houses a major research 
medical center, restaurants, an airport, a power plant, a hotel, 
museums, and athletic and entertainment venues (Table 9.1). 

Given the size and age of its infrastructure (the average 
building age is 30 years, with 123 buildings over 50 years old), 
for the past 10 years OSU has had roughly 50 construction 
projects with budgets over $200,000 in progress at any time. 
Half of them have had budgets over one million dollars. 

The typical college with a smaller campus and slower pace 
of construction can still learn from our experience. The rap- 
id pace of construction provided opportunities for repeated 
observations across the life span of many large scale projects 
within one institutional context — opportunities to see the im- 
mediate impact of process changes on a current project and, if 
the impact is sustained, across projects. In short, the pace and 
volume of construction create the planning equivalent of the 
geneticist's fruit fly. 

Before highlighting the process and exploring the mallea- 
ble variables that shift campus culture, take a moment to re- 
view the principles and philosophy of universal design as I use 
them. For those interested in a broad and in-depth discussion, 
I recommend two sources as starting points. The Universal De- 
sign Handbook edited by Wolfgang F. E. Preiser and Elaine 
Ostroff (2001) provides a comprehensive picture of universal 


design's applications in architectural, industrial, and environ- 
mental design. The Autumn 2006 special issue of the Journal 
of Postsecondary Education and Disability (19, 2) explores the 
application of universal design to the design of instruction and 
evaluation in higher education. 

Louise Jones (2004) discusses the breadth of academic us- 
ers and connects the need to be inclusive (i.e. universal design) 
to environmentally responsible design, saying that "Environ- 
mentally responsible design addresses the interrelationships of 
human needs/behavior, design, and environmental responsi- 
bility. Designers, who practice environmentally responsible 
design, plan, specify, and execute interior environments that 
reflect their concern for the users' quality of life and the world's 
ecology" (Paragraph 4). This captures my sense of universal 
design. As a philosophy, it embraces diversity and inclusion, 
efficiency and sustainability, adaptability and usability, and it 
promotes equity. 

Table 9.2 summarizes my view of the seven principles of 
universal design (discussed in Chapter 1). It lists each principle, 
gives a general definition, and lists two or three exemplars for 
each principle. This table borrows liberally from Molly Follette 
Story's (2001) Principles of Universal Design and Joan Mc- 
Guire and Sally Scott's (2006) Universal Design for Instruc- 
tion: Extending the Universal Design Paradigm to College 
Instruction. If successful, the table bridges the applications of 
universal design to and within the classroom, so that when it 
is combined with the underlying philosophy it becomes a tool 
for shifting institution toward universal design. 

Universal Design in the Institutional Setting jgf 

Equitable Use: Welcoming to diverse groups; provides for equivalent if not 
identical participation and effort. Consider characteristics such as height, 
weight, strength, vision, hearing, gender and cultural/background, experi- 
ences of all potential users. Exemplars: entrances at grade, captioned media, 
accessible web design for voice output. 

Flexibility in Use: Adaptability of the overall spaces over time (sustainabil- 
ity) as well as flexibility and control by the users in interacting with specific 
elements and functions. Exemplars: typical gendered group restrooms vs. indi- 
vidual/family restrooms, alternative methods of demonstrating learning, cascading 
style sheets in web design. 

Simple and Intuitive Use: Welcoming to non-native English speakers and 
individuals from diverse backgrounds; provides consistent forms, locations, 
and cues for way finding, operation, or interaction. Exemplars: building or 
directional signage that includes local area maps or floor plans, course management 
system instructions that consider the range of experience with the technology by 
participating students and faculty. 

Perceptible Information: Communicate information effectively across the 
spectrum of ambient conditions (light, sound, activity) using a variety of 
modalities (tactile, visual, auditory, linguistic). Exemplars: light strobe and 
auditory output on alarms, pictograms on signage,volume, spacing, and size of text 
on PowerPoint slides. 

Tolerance for Error: Minimize hazards and the adverse consequences of 
unintended actions, variations in pace, or vigilance; provide warnings or fail 
safe features. Exemplars: changes in texture and color at elevation changes, the 
"undo" option in computer software, opportunities for feedback prior to grading. 
Low Physical Effort: Efficient building systems; minimize user fatigue 
by reducing the need for sustained physical effort, allowing for neutral or 
ergonomic body positioning and reasonable operating forces. Exemplars: Sus- 
tainable and Green building technologies, walking distances from transportation 
points, maintaining low slopes on ramps and paths of travel, articulating keyboard 
trays in computer labs, seating options in classrooms. 

Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate space for approach and 
reach across user heights, sizes, and relative position; appropriately sized ele- 
ments to allow manipulation across a range of hand sizes and reach ranges. 
Exemplars: mounting heights that are comfortable for children, adults, or wheel- 
chair riders, adequate space at computer workstations (aisles, table surface, knee 
clearance), adequate space to respond to test questions. 

Table 9.2. Communicating the Seven Principles of Universal Design for Built 
and Learning Environments 



OSU has a formalized process to balance competing demands. 
This chapter can offer only an overview of each process (out- 
lined in Table 9.3 from Campus Maps to Construction Project 
Process Manual). OSU's Facilities, Operations, and Develop- 
ment web site ( has up-to-date details. 

Campus Maps 
Planning and Real Estate 
Council on the Physical Environment 
Space Facilities Committee 
Design Review Board 
Master Plan 

Master Plan Update 
Capital Plan Process 
Design and Construction 
Program of Requirements 
Building Design Standards 
Construction Project Process Manual 

Table 9.3. OSU's Campus Planning Process 

Two of the six subunits of the university's Facilities, Oper- 
ations, and Development (FOD) have particular interest here. 
Planning and Real Estate supports the master and capital plan- 
ning efforts. The Design and Construction unit implements 
the plan, coordinating construction and renovation projects 
from design through closeout. These units get guidance and 
recommendations from the administration and committees. 

Planning and Real Estate receives input from two commit- 
tees. The Council on the Physical Environment advises both 
the University Senate and FOD. Consisting of faculty, students, 
and staff, it is charged with taking a broad and encompassing 

Universal Design in the Institutional Setting 


perspective on the physical environment of the university as it 
affects the academic enterprise and quality of life for the uni- 
versity community. It also proposes policies and reviews and 
recommends actions regarding proposed major projects. The 
Provost's office charges the Space Facilities Committee with 
reviewing space and capital funds requests in the context of 
the university's academic plan and making recommendations 
for space and budget allocations. Its representatives are drawn 
from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Business Affairs, the 
Medical Center, and Facilities and Development. 

As individual projects move into development, a project 
team from Design and Construction works with the end us- 
ers to develop a plan and balance their needs and desires with 
the goals of the wider university community. The project team 
and end users receive input from a variety of sources that can 
be divided into four distinct groups that are organized accord- 
ing to function and expertise: the User Group, the Consultant 
Group, the Technical Group, and the Support Group. Each 
group provides input, guidance, and professional expertise 
throughout the design, construction, and closeout phases of 
each project. Figure 9.1 shows the flow of communications 
between these groups. 

User Group 

Consultant Group 

Figure 9.1. Groups and Communication Flow at OSU 
for Construction Projects (FPD refers to Physical Op- 
erations and Development) 


A communication starts with the development of a Pro- 
gram of Requirements, which provides a narrative of the needs 
and expectations for a space. The Master Plan and Building 
Design Standards guide the translation of this into design. 

The Design Review Board advises, reviewing projects from 
the perspective of the university-wide context rather than in 
terms of program and user needs. Using the Master Plan, poli- 
cies, and design guidelines, it determines compliance with the 
intent of the policies, principles, and guidelines; and it recom- 
mends exceptions or modifications to the proposed projects 
when appropriate. The Design Review Board functions as an 
independent forum to provide insight, constructive criticism, 
and recommendations to the project's design professionals. At 
the close of a project, the users move into the space and the 
maintenance and operating units of FOD support the build- 
ing through its life cycle. 

Malleable variables in this process that should transfer to 
other contexts involve people, paper, and presence. 

Once a design is committed to paper, people are commit- 
ted, and they will treat changes made with a pencil as com- 
parable to changes made with a bulldozer. While indirect, 
the optimal point of influence is at the most abstract stages. 
On the planning or campus scale, this means influencing the 
committees or individuals that inform and direct the plan- 
ning process: "people." On a building or project scale, it means 
influencing the design guidelines and program narrative: "pa- 
per." Finally, one needs to create critical mass among informed 
participants at each stage in the process that will serve as a 
presence that will remind people of the principles approach 
until they become part of the fabric of institutional thinking. 

Effective change can come from the top and bottom of 
the process. From the bottom, one can broaden the principles 
of universal design to incorporate teaching, learning, and ser- 
vice delivery by emphasizing the core philosophy as well as the 
seven principles. This approach represents an effective way to 
reach the people or committees at the top of the process. It also 
provides an easy connection to academic plans and diversity 
initiatives, and to sustainability and resource management. 

One effective approach at OSU has involved teaming up 
with our offices for disability services, faculty development, 
and instructional technology to promote universal design in 

Universal Design in the Institutional Setting i°_ 

instruction. This has provided an opportunity to promote the 
concepts of universal design to Deans and Chairs (key repre- 
sentatives and drivers of current and future design projects), 
including a discussion of its origins in architecture. 

At the bottom of the process, I have mirrored the history 
of universal design, starting first at the level of blueprint re- 
views and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities 
Act Standards for Accessible Design and moving towards a 
more universal design approach. The documents supporting 
the process offer evidence of this preserved at different stages. 
"The university requires stringent adherence to ADA guide- 
lines" appears in a standard for fixed furniture and equipment, 
and "Incorporate integrated access and usability for individu- 
als with disabilities into initial design considerations" appears 
as guidance in our building design standards. 

The conclusion of this approach was the adoption of a 
statement created in a City and Regional Planning Policy Stu- 
dio in Spring, 2006. After reviewing the university's master 
plan and its supporting policies, the studio created the follow- 
ing statement that incorporates existing statement and blends 
them with universal design principles: 

"The intent of design at The Ohio State University is to en- 
hance the campus environment by creating sustainable struc- 
tures that engage a diverse range of users by encouraging a 
variety of interactions; enhancing learning and research; and 
inviting reflection. 

OSU views each building project as an opportunity to meet 
the unique needs of the project and advance the university's 
Master Plan by demonstrating its commitment to a campus 
culture of inclusion necessary for a rich learning environment 
that is essential in preparing students to work, live, and con- 
tribute in our increasingly complex society. This commitment 
should be reflected in design that values flexibility and sustain- 
ability that enhances the quality of work, learning, and cul- 
tural and recreational opportunities across the full spectrum of 
the university community. This design philosophy is the physi- 
cal manifestation of the university's commitment to academic 
excellence, environmental and fiscal stewardship, and equity." 

Presence is the third variable. The long range goal calls for 
the "presence" of universal design in the institutional culture; 
and the first step is being physically present. Early on the uni- 


versity established the ADA Coordinator's Office as part of the 
technical group participating in blueprint reviews. It was easy 
to make the point that many of the comments on universal de- 
sign might be addressed up front with a role in establishing the 
Program of Requirements. From there, the university added a 
support role in the Design Review Board and the Feasibility 
Studies. These two have particular importance because they 
provided early input and high visibility. 

Two particular strategies have proven effective in shift- 
ing the planning culture: classes and conferences. Each year I 
work with one to three classes from a variety of disciplines (ar- 
chitecture, law, allied health, gerontology, and disability stud- 
ies) to conduct accessibility audits of campus buildings. While 
this focuses on existing buildings, we can often target those 
being evaluated for renovation or replacement. This provides 
input and interaction, with the evaluation team raising student 
awareness. Additionally, we incorporate a mock mediation ses- 
sion during which the student audit teams propose fixes to a 
representative of the department that occupies the building 
and a representative from FOD. While the Chair does not al- 
ways participate, the request initially goes to the Department 
Chair or Director. In a potent but non-threatening context, 
this approach educates this critical constituency. 

We have also organized conferences on campus that are 
either sponsored by the ADA Coordinator's Office or held in 
collaboration with departments such as the College of Law, 
City and Regional Planning, and Occupational Therapy. Sev- 
eral of these have focused on design and the built environment, 
bringing in outside speakers and inviting the campus and off- 
campus community. Inviting, encouraging, and, in some cas- 
es, coercing members of the institutional design teams to par- 
ticipate has worked in two ways. First, exposure to the content 
from compliance to universal design has raised awareness and 
understanding. More importantly, the conferences provide an 
opportunity for the university to interact on the subject with 
many individuals who both benefit from, and also depend on 
these design principles to function in the environment. 

What do these sample strategies have in common? Broad- 
ening the principles of universal design to include instruction 
made the concepts perceptible and intuitive for the intended 
audience and, because it was integrated into instructional de- 

Universal Design in the Institutional Setting ]^_ 

velopment, it required a lower effort to acquire. Working with 
courses to have students conduct accessibility audits and con- 
ferences with the same principles, and because of the role-play 
element it provided a safe learning environment (tolerance for 

While the resources match the size of an institution like 
The Ohio State University, others can use the principles of uni- 
versal design to develop comparable strategies elsewhere. 


Abramson, P., & Burnap, E. (2006). Space Planning Guide- 
lines for Institutions of Higher Education. Scottsdale, AZ: 
The Council of Educational Facility Planners, Interna- 

Jones, L. (2004). An Exemplar for Academic Buildings in 
the 21st Century: A Model of Universal and Green/Sus- 
tainable Design. In J. Sandhu (Ed.), Designing for the 
21st Century III: Proceedings from An International 
Conference on Universal Design. Retrieved December 6, 
2006, from 
proceedings/proj ect_jones_louise.html 

Kennedy, K., & Boothroyd, T. (2006). Education Construc- 
tion Gains Momentum. In The Outlook for Education 
Buildings. NY, NY: McGraw-Hill Construction. 

Lissner, L.S. (2005). Education, college and university. In G. 
L. Albrecht (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Disability, Volume II (pp. 
554- 556). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. 

McGuire, J. M., & Scott, S. S. (2006). Universal Design for 
Instruction: Extending the Universal Design Paradigm 
to College Instruction. Journal of Postsecondary Education 
and Disability, 19, 2, 124-135. 

Preiser, W. F. E., & Ostroff, E. (Eds.). (2001). Universal 
Design Handbook. NY, NY: McGraw-Hill. 

Story, M. F. (2001) Principles of Universal Design. In W F. 
E. Preiser, & E. Ostroff (Eds.), Universal Design Hand- 
book. NY, NY: McGraw-Hill. 

Walleri, R. D., Becker, W. E., & Lynn, C. (2002). From 
Academic Vision to Physical Manifestation. Sydney, Aus- 
tralia: University and Institute Planners. (Retrieved Dec. 
6, 2006 from 



Index of Authors 

Abramson, P., 159, 169 
Beasley, K. A., 16, 28 
Becker, W. E., 159, 169 
Boothroyd, T., 159, 169 
Brazilian Association of Technical 

Standards, 143 
Bringa, O. R., 12, 28, 97 
Bruegmann, R., 12, 28 
Burnap, E., 159, 169 
Byzek, J., 39, 42 
Carvalho, R. S. De, 128, 144 
Choay, R, 121, 145 

Cohen, R., 121, 122, 127, 129, 144, 145, 146 
Concrete Change, 32, 34, 35, 42 
Cosnier, 131, 144 
Danford, 148, 158 
Davies, T. T., 26, 28 
Dobkin, I. L., 147, 157 

Duarte, C, 121, 122, 129, 133, 144, 145, 146 
Duncan, D., vii 
Edict N. 52.96, 116, 145 
Evans- Cowley, vi, vii, x 
Fernandino, S. F., 127, 130, 145 
Festinger, L., 24, 28 
Fletcher, V., 16, 28 
Frangos, A., 22, 28 
Garvin, B., 19, 28 
Gilroy, L., 15, 28 
Goltsman, S., 16, 29 
Grosjean, M., 13, 144, 145 146 
Guimaraes, M. R, 122, 129, 130, 145 
Hanyu, K., 24, 29 
Hecht, R, 13, 29 
Hemily, B., 58, 67 
Hendershot, G. 33, 34, 42 
Hock, D., 15, 29 
Howard County Department of 
Planning and Zoning, 88, 95 
Howard County Office on Aging, 71, 91, 95 



Hunter-Zaworski, K. M., 51, 55, 

Itsukushima, Y., 24, 29 
Jones, L., 162, 169 
Jones, M. 33, 42 
Kang, T., 33, 42 
Kaye, S., 33, 42 
Kendrick, D., x, 22, 29 
Kennedy, K., 159, 169 
King, R. D., 57, 58, 67 
Kochera, A., 32,36, 42 
Kotkin, J., 12, 29 
Lafferty, S., 69 
Langdon, P., 18, 29 
Lantrip, 149, 150, 157 
LaPlante, M., 33, 42 
Lawlor, J., 39, 42 
Liebig, P., 32, 42 
Lissner, S., vi, vii, x, 159, 160, 169 
Lynch, K., 20, 29, 121, 146 
Lynn, C, 159, 169 
Mace, R. L., 121, 148, 156, 157 
Maisel, J., 31, 43 
Moss, A. 33, 42 
McGuire, J. M., 162, 169 
Merlin, P., 121, 145 
Mettetal-Dulard, L., 121, 146 
Miyake, Y., 16, 29 
Mumford, L., 24, 29 
Nasar, J. L., vi, vii, x, 13, 29 
National Statistics Office, 152, 157 
Nelson/Nygaard, 66, 67 
Novell, W. D., 25, 29 
Ostroff, E., 11, 15, 25, 26, 27, 28, 

30, 121, 146, 161, 169 
Paula, K C. L de, 128, 145, 146 
Peterson, M. J., 147, 157 
Petzinger, T.,l4, 29 
Poerksen, B., 15, 29 
Preiser, W. F. E., vii,9, 11, 15, 16, 

26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 121, 

146, 161, 169 

Raser, J., 19, 30 

Rashtian, S., 45 

REDA International for Howard 
County, Office on Aging, 76, 

Robb, G. M., 14, 30 

Rutenberg, U., 58, 67 

Sanford, J., 33, 42, 149 

Sawadsri, A. 147 

Scott, S. S., 162, 169 

Smith, E., 34, 39, 42 

Spegal, K., 32, 42 

Steinfeld, E., 24 30, 34, 35, 43, 
148, 158 

Story, M. R, 15, 16, 22, 23, 30, 
162, 169 

Tappuni, R., 14, 30 

The Economist, 13, 30 

Ihibaud, J-P, 127, 130, 133, 144, 
145, 146 

Truesdale, S., 34, 35, 43 

Tuan, Y-F, 120, 146 

U. S. Department of Housing and 

Urban Development, 33, 43 

Ullman, D., 52, 67 

United Nations and UN Centre 
for Human Settlements, 158 

US Access-Board, 53, 67 

Vescovo, F., 15, 30 

Vischer, J., 15, 29 

Von Foerster, H., 15, 28, 30 

Walleri, R. D., 159, 169 

Weiner, 58, 67 

Wener, R., 13, 29 

Weisman, L. K., 15, 30 

World Health Organization Pro- 
gram for the Prevention of 
Blindness and Deafness, 45 

Zaworski, J. R., 55, 67 

Zipf, G. K., 24, 30 



Subject Index 

Access, 16-17, 121, 124 
Accessible housing, 31-42 
Accessible route, 122, 130-132 
Accessory apartments, 80 
Aesthetics, 113, 150, 156 
Affordability, 69, 71, 72, 86, 92- 

Age restricted housing, 75, 84 
Aging in place, 39, 69-71, 75, 76- 

Aging, ix, 31, 33, 69, 71, 93 
Airport, 11, 12, 21, 26 
Albuquerque, NM, 17 
Americans with Disabilities Act 

(ADA), 11,29, 33,47, 51, 53, 

58, 159 
Assessment methods, 130-132 
Assisted Living, 75, 80-81 
Assistive devices, ix, 33, 47-49, 55, 

105, 152 
Atlanta, GA, 21, 36, 43 
Audit tools, 130-132 
Barriers, v, 118, 122, 154, 155 
Blind, 17, 22, 45-49, 128, 138, 

Body Motion Envelope, 149-151 
Brazil, 115-143 
Burnsville, MN, 19 
Bus rapid transit, 56, 58, 63 
Campus planning, 159, 164-169 
Cell phones, 13 
Children, 136-137 
Cincinnati, OH, 17, 22, 26-27 
Circulation, 155 
Codes, vi, 16, 22 
Collaboration, 168-169 
Columbus, OH, 19 
Community participation, 34 

Community planning, 102-103 
Community services, 80-81 
Community transport, 54, 64 
Compatibility, 86-87 
Conference, 140, 168 
Construction management, 165 
Continuing Care Retirement 

Communities, 75 
Co-resident, 156 
Cost, 35, 84, 148 
Cultural monuments, 105-106 
Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport, 21 
Decentralized, 101 
Democratic, 101 
Design review, 164, 166, 168 
Digital divide, 13 
Disadvantage, 122-123 
Edinburgh, Scotland, 18 
Education, v, 115, 117-120, 137- 

141, 167-168 
Educational environments, 124- 

126, 159-169 
Effort, 23-24 
Einstein, 14, 15 
Elevators, 18, 22-23 
Energy conservation, 13 
Environmental experience, 120- 

Equality, 98 
Evacuation, 22, 23, 24 
Evaluation, 26-27, 168 
Fair Housing Act, 33 
Family type, 149 
Ferry Service, 54, 61-62, 63-64 
Filming, 132 
Financial incentives, 94 
Flexibility in use, 18-20 
Growth Management, 84 
Guide book, 133-136 
Guidelines, 26, 53, 65, 136 
Heritage site, 105-106 



Home modification, renova- 
tion, 77-79, 147, 150-153 

Home-based care, 111 

Hospitals, 17, 21, 22, 26 

Housing, ix, 31-42, 69-95, 152 

Howard County, MD, 70-71 

Hurricane Katrina, 23 

Impact, social, 143 

Implementation, 111-112 

Incentives. 93-95 

Incline, 110 

Independent Living, 75 

Information technology, 11, 13 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 22 

Landscape design, 87, 113 

Landmark orientation, 47, 109 

Land-use planning, 100-102 

Land-use policy, 108-111 

Legibility, 20, 21 

Legislation, 33, 34, 39-41 

Light rail transit, 59-60 

Low Physical Effort, 23-24 

Maps, 108-109 

MARTA, 21 

Master Plan, 72-74, 159 

Minneapolis, MN, 17 

Mixed use, 18, 24, 26 

Models, 138-141 

Moderate income housing, 92-93 

Monet, Claude, 99 

Napierville, IL, 34, 36 

Navigation, see Wayfinding 

Neighborhood, 12, 15, 19,24 

New urbanism, 18, 39-40 

Norway, 12, 98-100 

Nursing facility, 72, 75, 76, 80- 

Ohio State University, The, 159- 

Orientation, 46, 48 

Paradigm shift, 14-15 

Pedestrian life, 17, 19, 20, 27 
Perceptible Information, 20-22 
Performance criteria, 16, 17, 17- 

21, 22-25, 
Pima County, AZ, 36 
Planning, 100-108, 115, 116, 141, 

Policy, 35-39, 89-90, 93-95, 97, 

98, 160 
Policy, land use 100-102, 108-111 
Policy, national 103 
Politics, 107 
Post-occupancy evaluation, 149, 

Public places, 104-107, 123-125 
Quality of life, 104 
Railroads, 62, 112 
Ramp, 149, 152-153. 155, 156 
Reaching range, 155 
Recreation areas, 108, 110 
Regional planning, 103-108 
Regulations, vi, 11, 16, 85 
Rides, 135-136 
St. Giles Cathedral, 18 
Scandinavia, 97, 99-100 
Schools, 25, 124-127 
Senior housing, 75-81 
Seniors, see Aging 
Sensory systems, 45-46 
Seven Principles of Universal De 

sign, 162-163 

Equitable Use, 14-16, 163 

Flexibility in Use, 18-20 163 

Low Physical Effort, 23-24, 

Perceptible Information, 20- 
22, 163 

Simple and Intuitive Use, 20, 

Size and Shape for Approach 
and Use, 24-25, 163 



Tolerance for Error, 21-23, 163 
Shopping centers, 17 
Signage,21, 22, 27, 47 
Simple and Intuitive Use, 20 
Sight lines, 20-21 
Skytrain, 59, 65-67 
Skywalks, 17, 26 
Social sustainability, 120, 121 
Spatial exclusion, 122 
Spatial experience, 139-140 
Spatial Learning, see Wayfinding 
Sports arenas, 19 
Sprawl, 12 

Streets, ix, 17, 19, 25, 26 
Suburbs, 12, 15, 18, 27 
Subways, 23-24 

Sustainability, 113, 120, 121, 167 
Tactile cues, 47-49 
Taxis, 23Teaching, 137-142 
Thailand, 147-157 
Tokyo, Japan, 25 
Tolerance for Error, 22-24 
Traditional Neighborhood Develop- 
ment, see New Urbanism 
Traffic calming, 19 
Transparency, 102 
Transportation, ix, 15, 18, 23, 112 

Facilities, 21 

Infrastructure, 52-53 

Intercity, 61 

Trip chain, 52-53 
Transportation, Public, 21, 51-67 

Accommodations, 54-56 

Buses, 54-56, 61, 63 

Modes, 54-56 

Rail, passenger, 62, 112 

Vehicle types, 56-61 

Types of service, 54 
TWA terminal, 12, 18 
UN Convention on Disability 

Rights, 97 

Universal design, 116 

Conveniences of, 7 

Cost, 35 

Defined, 3, 9, 121-122 

Requirements, 88-89 

Seven Principles of, 14-23, 

Urban scale, 11, 12, 15-16 

Value of, ix-x, 1 1 
University campuses, facilities, 

26-27, 117-120, 159-169 
Urbana, IL, 36 

Vancouver, BC, 60, 62, 65-67 
Vanpools, 58 

Buses, 63 

Passenger ferry, 54, 61-62, 


Passenger rail, 62-63 

Rubber-tire, 56-59 

Steel tire, 58-59 
Vision, 45-46, 49 
Visitability, 31-42 

Challenges, 39-40 

Cost, 35 

Future, 41-42 

Initiatives, 36-38 

Legislation, 36, 39-41 

Movement, 35-38 

Policy, 31, 32, 35-39 

Principles of, 34-35 
Walking range, 18, 109 
Waste management, 104-105 
Wayfinding, 46-48 
Welfare, 104 

West Chester, OH, 19, 25 
Wheelchair users, 143, 149-156 
World views, 14 
Zoning, 85, 90, 93-94, 112 


IF rom Accessability To Zoning 

"I applaud the initiative and vision of Jack L. Nasar and Jennifer Evans-Cowley 
. . . With the range of authors and topics (including housing, transportation, urban 
form, land uses), this hook is great step towards expanding planning practice to 
include universal design issues. " — Dick Duncan, Director of Universal Design 
Training, Universal Design Research and Engagement, North Carolina State 

We may overlook the need for barrier- free design, until we experience an 
injury, or have to negotiate an environment with a stroller, or with some- 
one who uses a wheel-chair or has vision loss. Millions of people experi- 
ence barriers to movement every day. The growing aging population has 
made it more important that places are designed to work for all abilities 
and across the lifespan. Universal design goes beyond minimum access 
codes and standards, to design environments that are comfortably usable 
by people from childhood into their oldest years. It can improve livability 
for everyone. We hope this book advances your interest and understand- 
ing of this exciting and ever- widening movement. 

Citizens, planners, members of chambers of commerce, students and 
professionals in the fields of environmental design and planning will find 
this book a valuable guide for thinking beyond basic access to make our 
communities more inclusive and agreeable for everyone. 

ISBN 978-1-4276-1895-5 paperback