When designing a building, architect seeks to make it accessible to all stakeholders (users), and overcome any obstacles that may prevent them from reaching the facilities it holds. Thus, architects make it a priority to utilize all means to make their design barrier-free, accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible starting from the entrance to all the facilities in a given building. These aspects considered to be the key factor in determining how successful the design is.
One example of buildings that need an extensive design contemplation to ensure it caters for the broadest range of users is colleges and university buildings. These buildings are constructed to serve students, faculty, and administrative staff. Therefore, it's critical, though these buildings cater mainly students, to put all stakeholders in consideration when sketching the design blue-print.
Architects raise their awareness to make their design inclusive to accommodate both able and disable individuals. deferent type of disabilities are of great challenge to architects. Different design aspect should be provide to include all these types in order to make a building accessed with ease and effortlessness. This notion comes in compliance to the Americans with Disability Act ADA which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.
Moreover, even able individuals may, in some stages of their lives, become temporarily disabled due to an accident, aging, or pregnancy. Also those individuals may face a type of sight or hearing impairment. Thus it is important too to take these cases into consideration when embarking on a building design.
The term "universal design" was coined by the architect Ronald L. Mace to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life. However, it was the work of Selwyn Goldsmith, author of Designing for the Disabled (1963), who really pioneered the concept of free access for disabled people. His most significant achievement was the creation of the dropped curb - now a standard feature of the built environment.
Accessible design is essential for 10% of the population, necessary for 40% of the population and comfortable for 100% of the population.
Accessible Design maximizes the number of potential users, able or disabled, who can readily benefit from a building services and amenities.
Barrier Free Environment is one which enables individuals with disabilities to move about safely and freely and to use the facilities technology assisting equipment to assist within the built environment. The goal of barrier free design is to provide a homogenous environment that supports the independent functioning of individuals so that they can get to, and participate without assistance, in everyday activities.
With life expectancy on the rise and the new breakthroughs in medical treatments, more people with major injuries and congenital defect are expected to be a portion of active societies. Therefore, it is a must that planners put this segment in mind to create an inclusive environment that ensures easy mobility for all.
Universal Access standards in a University's campus.
Access to education and work is a right to all citizens abled or disabled. Including individuals with disabilities by providing all the means for them to be a part of the educational process and workforce will assure their participation in the sociality to become a providing members instead of being a burden.
Inside the university campus, specific disabilities i.e. Physical impairment, hearing impairment, visual impairment, multi-impairment, low vision , and acritochromacy, are targeted by designers who are seeking to implement the concept of accessibility.
The standards mainly consider integrating spaces and reach in addition to pedestrian pathways with a focus on creating enough maneuverability for all. The figure below shows the minimum barrier- free spaces:
Implementing UAP vision at King Saud University
In 2010, KSU started establishing a conducive environment that allows participation of individuals with disabilities in all its spheres by following the international standards for universal access. The vision is to increase the number of students with disabilities accepted and include them in the educational process and prepare them to take part in the workforce. Moreover, the university is committed to meet local and international educational accreditation parameters that affirms the equal rights for student with disabilities.
Due to the fact that it accommodates a vast majority of student with disabilities (Physical & visual impairment), KSU has started its accessibility initiative at the College of Education. The initiative success was commended by many local and international authorities. This praise paved the way to the bigger initiative to implement UA standards all through KSU campus. Furthermore, the Program endeavored to set a benchmark by signing bilateral agreements with U.S and Canadian institutions leading in setting laws and implementing Universal Access standards.
The Unit accomplishments within UAP projects
Structural- Architectural Integration Unit is the Program division in charge of implementing Universal Access standards upon University's buildings and facilities. It is also in charge for setting a unified strategic plan to resolve any structural barriers that my hindered the University's students and personnel. The Unit works hand in hand with the structural administrations in the University .i.e. Vice-Rectorate for projects, strategic projects, endowment project, security and safety administration, and The College of Architecture and Planning when setting its unified strategic plan. In addition, the Unit works on analyzing structural anomalies that may cause problems to university's students and personnel. Examining and planning designs for accessibility projects is also one of the Unit duties.
- Designing projects aimed at individuals with disabilities.
- Examining University's structural designs, and checking its compatibility with UD standards.
- Publishing KSU's students with disability services policies and procedure guidebook.
- Creating an architectural comprehensive database for the University's contractors working on projects aimed at individuals with disabilities.
- Easing access for individuals with disabilities in all university spheres, allocating and resolving barriers.
- Publishing A checklist of readily achievable barrier removal booklet.
University's project The Unit superintend
- Retrofitting the University Center project.
- Tactile paving from building No 3 at the dormitory passing by the students cafeteria going to the University main pathway.
- Establishing two study halls for students with disabilities.
- Retrofitting Preparatory Year buildings.
- Retrofitting College of Appalled Medical Sciences Buildings.
- Designing the new Center for individuals with special needs at the ground floor building No 17.
- Examining compatibility with UD standards at the Girls Campus at Dereah.
- Superintending faculty housing – individuals with special needs Units.
- Superintending University Medical City.
- Supervising projects of gardening administration.
- Superintending five colleges- buildings
- Superintending King Salamn Library.
- Retrofitting dorm units for students with disabilities.
- Tactile paving pathways starting at Gate no 2 and inside dormitory.
Project outside the University campus
- Collaborating with Holy Makkah Municipality Council _Ministry of Municipal & Rural Affairs _ in retrofitting the holy Mosque Area for individuals with disabilities.
- Examining main building at Riyadh City compatibility with UD standards in cooperation with Riyadh Municipality.
- Retrofitting W.C at Girls Campus in Elaysha area.
- Retrofitting The College of Applied Studies and Community Service's buildings.