This week, my husband and I met US Congressman Harley Rouda to discuss possibility of a legislation to address safety of people with Invisible Disabilities during emergency situations in buildings.
“Safety as a right, not a privilege”
Continuing my passion for life and safety in buildings, I have started working on a research project to address Invisible Disabilities in egress systems through building design, technology and innovation.
Our building codes identify the needs of visible disabilities requiring assistive devices to a certain extent, but they have conveniently ignored neurodivergence, neurodiversity, cognitive disabilities, social health, mental and emotional health, memory loss and such. ADA (American Disabilities Act) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, and aims to provide equal opportunities for all individuals but, how effective are they when 74% of the disabled do not use an assistive device?
Communication is crucial during emergency events in buildings/ built environment, and accessible and achievable communication is a basic human right. To provide an inclusive and diverse solution, all that is needed is a simple, perceptible communication of information that would require minimal physical/ mental efforts by the occupant to understand and follow, no matter what their limitations are.
Is our current system promoting ableism within disabilities by not creating a universal and inclusive solution? Are mobility disabilities as far as the law can think of? Not everyone who needs help wears a visible sign and evidence of their sickness. How are we planning to help them have the same structured experience that able-bodied individuals have within a building during emergencies/ egress/ exiting?
If the way they enter, exit and navigate a building is different, why aren’t we designing our buildings to accommodate those requirements? Building design is a social issue, a social justice issue. Let’s work on designing buildings that elevate everyone’s experiences, not limit them. Be it a ten year old kid with anxiety, or a ninety year old with memory loss, someone on a wheelchair, or an able bodied person – let’s use technology, building science building design to come up with ways to make all their experiences similar.
Let’s change the way we think universal design
Let’s change the laws so that it’s a right not a privilege!
If you would like to join me in my efforts, please send me an email, or message me, and we will get started.