In commercial real estate settings, moving through a facility remains challenging for many disabled people. In 2023, where access to everyone’s perspective is all-encompassing, we know the importance of highlighting the room for development in many buildings. When the goal of having accessible buildings is on the line, we’ve prepared some measures to help foot the difference.
Bridge the gap
In order for users to mind the gap, property managers must first make the gap surmountable. Installing ramps and curb cuts can be a great place to start, ensuring all walking aids (such as canes, wheelchairs, walkers etc.) can safely and conveniently breach the barrier. It’s essential also to ensure materials used when making these accommodations are the right texture, ensuring the user can get traction. Moreover, grates and slight changes in flooring levels can catch on walking aides – so note those areas to avoid potential damage to the mechanisms and the property.
Wayfinding (matting) is *way* inviting
Not only can matting be chic, clean and protective – it’s also functional and helpful for some users’ navigation. Especially when using matting to lay out a path and direct occupants’ attention to critical areas, the flooring arrangement can be subtle and informative when incorporated as wayfinding matting. By marking the path, you can control traffic flow, subdivide rooms by their different purposes (like waiting areas vs. line cues), and make navigation at intersections more manageable.
While the key attributes listed are generally appreciated by all, to disabled people, these provide orientation cues and signals to different areas, like emergency exits, while laying out a fabric that provides traction between the floor and walking aids. Be it through distinct colours, changes in texture, or dividing space, flooring can play a significant role in assisting disabled people’s experience in the building.
See our blog on borders for bonus incentives in incorporating wayfinding flooring.
Sign the signage
Signals are only as useful as they are legible. Ensuring all building users can receive the message is a helpful measure to take. Brail signage should be included wherever footing levels change, using bumps in the flooring and installing railings where applicable. Snow and leaves can obstruct the nodes, so ensure these aids are cleared and effective in the blustery seasons.
Additionally, using comprehensive brail on all visual signs is critical. Though it may seem obvious, consider that many signs that state ‘emergency exit, break glass to escape’ only translate to ’emergency exit’ in their brail marking.
Guide the guest
All of these measures are only useful if the person is aware of where to find them. Indoor mapping can be a great tool that signals where the accessible features (like ramps, alternative signage, etc.) are located for those who need them. Taking it further, provide a map of your building (as many already do) that outlines assisted-mobility-friendly routes, and enhance it with turn-by-turn directions. Incorporating indoor mapping lets the building user feel confident while moving through your space, knowing their path will be smooth and seamless.
Consider the unconsidered
A building is only as efficient as the experience is for a disabled person using it. Though building codes don’t always include these standards, the manager’s responsibility is to ensure its functioning – for all. Showing up for the disabled community starts with having the right tools. Incorporating our matting will help assist the facility’s users and signal not only the way – but also their consideration. Make sure you follow through when you throw a lifeline out to your users – let your building do the showing and the telling.