Architecture without barriers

Switch – architectural design guide

In the publication we show that accessibility is not just taking account of the needs of wheelchair users but also those who use crutches, canes, people with visual impairments (blind or visually-impaired) and hearing disabilities (deaf and hearing-impaired) and all those with other types of disabilities.

“Switch” was created with Polish architects in mind, that is why we refer to Polish realities so often in this publication. As it turns out, they do not deviate too much from how buildings are made in the neighboring countries. Individual regulations may differ, but the general state of technological advancement, and the awareness of what universal designing is as well as how the recommended solutions can be implemented in practice, are rather similar.

The 7 principles of universal design are most certainly a common denominator, and they became the starting point for this handbook’s creation:

  • Equitable use – the solution should be useful and appealing to people with different physical abilities.
  • Flexibility in use – the solution should meet the needs and abilities of various users. Examples: table with tabletop height adjustment; taking account of the possibility of use by right- and left-handed people.
  • Simple and intuitive – the method of using the solution should be easy to understand and independent from past experience, knowledge, familiarity with language or the level of user’s concentration. Examples: simple, pictorial manuals; intuitive menu of electronic devices.
  • Perceptible information – information should be perceptible regardless of environmental conditions and users’ sensory abilities. Examples: colour distinctions or tagging individual zones of the building with symbols; application of gates synchronized with doors to metro carriages on metro platforms identifying the locations of entrances and protecting against falling from the platform.
  • Tolerance for error – the solution should minimize the risk and negative consequences of accidental or unintended actions of the user. Example: possibility of undoing the most recent action in an application.
  • Low physical effort – using the solution should be possible in an effective and convenient manner that does not cause fatigue of the user. Example: large and contrasting markings that do not require concentration of sight; buttons and panels situated at a height that does not require excessive stretching of arms; doors opened automatically.
  • Size and space for approach and use – the size and space of a given solution should enable its use regardless of the user’s body size, posture and mobility. Examples: providing wider access control gates for wheelchair users; in public transport - providing the low-floor vehicles with spaces for disabled people.
Last updated: 11/27/2018