Skip to main content
skip to content Français Search
Start of main content

Beyond code: Striving for universal design

Stantec designers share how a wheelchair challenge added another tool to their design toolkit: empathy

Transcript of the video follows
skip transcript
<p><b>Melina Davari</b>: It changes your perspective, it makes you question everything that you've been doing so far and whether those rules and guidelines are really applicable.</p> <p><b>Vlad Bortnowski</b>: It was interesting to see is how to experience the office from that point of view, from the wheelchair, and how are the various barriers around the office.</p> <p><b>Jason Chiles</b>: My name is Jason Chiles. I am jokingly referred to in 2 ways, as a professional on wheels but I prefer to refer to myself as a geek on wheels. I haven't always been in a chair. I've actually only been in the chair for the last 5 years. I went through the process of living a normal life of what everybody would consider to be normal, walking, doing all my normal activities, to having to make the transition to living life in the chair.</p> <p>Today what we're here for is what we've discussed as a wheelchair challenge and I'm going to propose a scenario to all of you. You've had a catastrophic accident. It doesn't matter what it is, we'll call it a car accident that your spinal cord was injured. You've gone through the healing aspect of it, you've been in a rehab hospital. But this is the first time that you have been approved to come back to work. Today is your day that you are coming back to Stantec for the very first time in your chair. How is it to get into the office? How is it to move around the office? How is it to get to your workstation, to use the washroom, to use the lunchroom and then to come back here and to come into the boardroom?</p> <p><b>Melina</b>: I wanted to have a better understanding of how people in wheelchair move and maneuver around the spaces, ho w do they open doors, how do they use the washrooms, how does it feel to go up the ramps.</p> <p>Having a somewhat level transition between materials, it is very important, as you saw I couldn't really get over one of the transitions.</p> <p>We just need to be more aware of our detailing, material selection, and overall how we design spaces and understand that people who are in wheelchair, they're not really on their feet it's their wheels that become their feet, and having to move around a space on wheels it's very different than walking on surfaces.</p> <p><b>Vlad</b>: One thing that is very annoying is the lift is very very slow, and you have to spend about ten minutes at least to move to take the key, to get the key in, get to the elevator and get to your desk.</p> <p>I think I'm going to look again even more carefully on how we design the facilities that we are working on in this office.</p> <p><b>Melina</b>: This was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had as a designer, I have to say, because it definitely did change my perspective. Our office is designed to code, however just moving in the chair around the office it did make me realize that we need to be, when we’re designing, it’s not just about the code, we need to be a little bit more empathetic towards everyone.</p>

View A Project Near You

Find Stantec projects near you
End of main content To top