When Senior Architectural Designer Kelly Shields works with clients to create spaces that are welcoming and inviting, he’s also focused on making sure they’re accessible to everyone. “It comes up in every design conversation that we have,” emphasizes Shields. “It’s something we try to instill in everything that we do.”

Not only is it woven into every project done by DC, it’s also top-of-mind for people like Tina Acosta, the director of outreach at Turnstone, an organization that provides services to children and adults with physical, visual, developmental and neurological disabilities. She helps corporations be more inclusive by providing ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance assessments and training on best practices.

“We can go into businesses and provide them with tools and recommendations on making their space more accessible,” Acosta explains.

“It’s a framework that they can use so that they’re constantly focused on making the space more accessible. A lot of places are just thinking about things like wheelchairs, but there are a lot of invisible disabilities that they should be more knowledgeable about to make them more inclusive of a larger diverse community.”

Shields says the concept of universal design goes beyond what’s dictated by law. For example, a ramp isn’t just for someone with a physical disability. “It also helps me, as a dad, push a stroller or a teacher with a cart full of books. It’s a benefit for everybody,” he stresses.

Promenade Park Walkway
Promenade Park Walkway

“It’s important for business leaders to take a broader look at how their space impacts the overall culture,” Acosta says.

She encourages them to make sure it’s an ongoing conversation. “I would argue that if a company is willing to make universal design a priority in their built environment, they probably have a culture that is going to be more inclusive by nature. I would never want them to say, ‘We had Turnstone come out, we did this, and boom — we’re done.’ We’re trying to get people to understand that it’s not a one-and-done situation. The key to this is to be very intentional and to make it a working plan.”

Together, Design Collaborative and Turnstone are working to challenge people to think differently when they’re designing or remodeling a space.

“When you have someone who’s passionate about it, the thought process is, ‘This is the bare minimum, but does it actually look good and does it function the way that it should for all people?’

That makes things better for everyone,” says Design Collaborative Business Development Coordinator Kelli Warner. “One of the benefits to working with Design Collaborative is that its team is so intentional about creating those kinds of spaces,” adds Turnstone Chief Marketing Technology Officer Stasha Carrasquillo. “There is a way to make beautiful and universally designed spaces. We’re not just thinking about the ADA. We’re thinking about how we can best serve all people.”

Turnstone Interior Design
Turnstone Interior Design

Article featured in Business People Magazine.

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