From the U.S. Access Board: Accessible Design Features in Everyday Life

In commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 0n 7/26/2021, the U.S. Access Board is spotlighting some common accessible design features that make everyday life easier for everyone, including people without disabilities.  

Here are 7 accessible design features in everyday life: 

  1. Ramps and Curb Ramps. Have you ever needed to get a stroller or wheeled luggage onto the sidewalk when crossing a street? We can thank ramps and curb ramps, which are required for wheelchair access, but are also beneficial to everyone using wheeled devices like strollers and wheeled briefcases!
  2. Detectable Warning Surfaces. Speaking of curb ramps, have you ever wondered what those small half domes that extend from one side of the curb ramp to the other are for? They are detectable warning surfaces, and they are designed to alert pedestrians who are blind or have low vision to the presence of a hazard, such as the road where cars travel. But they are also required on open boarding platforms in rail stations, and they discourage all people from standing too close to the edge when waiting for a train or subway, enhancing safety for everyone.
  3. Elevators. Have you ever used an elevator at the airport so that you don’t have to take your suitcase on the escalator? Thank accessible design! While elevators are convenient for getting your luggage more easily through the airport, the reason they are required is to provide airport vertical access for people with disabilities.
  4. Lever Door Handles and Push Plates. Have you had to open a door at work, but your hands were full with a box of files or sandwiches for an in-house lunch meeting? Lever door handles and push plates that activate automatic doors are provided so that doors can be opened by people who don’t have the force or dexterity to grasp and twist a doorknob or cannot reach the knob. But they also make entering and existing buildings and rooms easier for everyone. 
  5. Clear Walkways. Glad to not hit your head on wall sconces as you stroll in your favorite art museum or run into wall-mounted drinking fountains, handrails, or signs on posts? We thought so! People who are blind don’t like walking into those either, and that’s why they have a minimum headroom clearance, a minimum horizontal protrusion, or are recessed into the wall and out of the walkway. We’re all saved from bumps on the head and headaches! 
  6. Audible and Visual Announcements. Isn’t it helpful to hear and see announcements for stops when riding a bus or subway line? Those audible and visual announcements are required so that people who are blind or have low vision or deaf or hard of hearing can know when their stops are approaching. But they are also great for tourists, those who may be busy reading or listening to music, and anyone riding an unfamiliar public transportation route. 
  7. Safe Play Area Surfaces. Have you ever wondered why play area surfaces are often unitary rubber and not sand or gravel or grass? That rubber surface not only prevents injuries but allows those using mobility devices into the play area and participate in an inclusive play environment. Now grandma and grandpa can join their grandkids at the play area! 

As these accessible design features show, we all benefit from accessible design in everyday life! To learn more about the history of the ADA and the Board’s work with the ADA, visit the recent article on the Board’s News webpage