planned in advance by an informed builder are inexpensive and can be easily built into the selling price of a new home. Typically, added cost will average less than $100 for homes on a concrete slab and $300-$600 for those with a crawlspace or basement 2.
Even more astounding than deliberate refusal to embrace the concept of inclusive design, is the apparent ignorance within the design community that such a concept exists as a viable solution. Hearing reactions from builders exclaiming that this is an “interesting concept” that they “would like to hear more about”, borders on shocking. While builders may not necessarily have formal design training, their architects and interior designers do and one must wonder why adaptable interiors are of such little importance to these professionals that they would willfully choose to omit these practices from their designs. Not since the civil rights movement in the United States has legislation protecting basic human rights taken so long to embrace. It has been much too easy to sweep this problem under the rug and consumers are beginning to realize just how short-sighted the design community has been as they struggle to live out every day activities in environments that are not adaptable to their changing physical needs.
Where Do We Start?
We cannot discuss professional implications of disregard in this area without touching on what precludes professional practice – the design student. The process begins with universities and design schools impressing upon their students the significance that this type of design carries in the future of built environments.
Most of us that spend our professional lives practicing this type of design are driven by idealistic visions of mainstream implementation for the good of humankind; however, the reality is that it must be proven profitable before developers and builders will embrace it. Unless we gain support from these key players, we will continue to fight an uphill battle at the governmental level. Along these lines, I have identified a secondary hurdle in the antiquated communication used in legislative circles that are more concerned with technical requirements and jargon-speak than with commonplace good design. This is a barrier that must be addressed if we are to move forward. Negative perceptions infect our future architects and designers and precipitate the idea that this is an unattractive specialty and tedious to implement with regard to technical specifications. We must change these perceptions to reflect the opportunities for creativity and stimulating challenge that seamless, inclusive design solutions require. It will be useful to explore the issue of terminology a bit further.
Where’s the Roadblock?
It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It
Exacerbating the problem with public acceptance of, and consequently building industry implementation of, this type of design is the terminology and its association with the aged and feeble. The commonly used term “accessibility” is one that carries this connotation and is the default term used when discussing building modification for users. The word alone is sterile and dissociative and evokes the image