At The McIntosh Group, we pride ourselves on being a national leader in ADA Compliance. As an intern architect at McIntosh, I have the rare opportunity to truly make a difference in my work, helping businesses better serve their customers and protect their assets, and helping individuals with disabilities have the same experiences and opportunities others are afforded in day-to-day events.
But unlike high design, accessibility surveying does not feel glamorous. We travel – a lot – from location to location making painstaking efforts to correctly measure slopes, evaluate accessible routes, assess door weights, etc. It’s a lot of data collection. We often survey multiple locations a day, which can add up to mind numbing amount in a year.
While we are always aware deep in the back of our minds that the job we do is very important and meaningful to the end user, in the midst of the daily grind, it is easy to wonder why a fraction of an inch of noncompliance could ever cause an issue and begin to believe that at the end of the day it just doesn’t matter.
But the truth is that it does matter. It matters a lot.
In 2015, The McIntosh Group entered into a charitable partnership with The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges in Tulsa, Okla. The Center was created in 1959 to serve the needs of persons with disabilities. Because of the work we do in ADA Accessibility, it seemed like a natural fit.
Our Accessibility Team attended the Center’s first “The Center Experience,” a half-day workshop aimed at showing participants first-hand what it is like for individuals with various disabilities to accomplish certain day-to-day tasks, go through workouts and/or rehabilitation, and participate in sports. This workshop hit home for all of us, and I can say without a doubt that it reinvigorated my passion for what I do.
My experience at The Center brought that dormant understanding of the value of our job rushing to the forefront. Helping our clients provide a safer, easier to navigate environment for individuals with disabilities is a very important and meaningful. Those fractions of inches that can seem so trivial during a survey can cause a wheelchair not to fit or cause a visually impaired person to trip.
Life with a physical disability is a challenge every day, and doing what we can to make life easier for us all should never be underestimated. After all, it could easily, in an instant, become a challenge any of us could face.
Bethany Husmann, Associate AIA, is an intern architect at The McIntosh Group and is part of our Accessibility Team. Before joining the McIntosh team in 2011, Husmann graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Arkansas.
This article was originally published in Commercial Transformations, a McIntosh Group publication in Commercial Construction & Renovation magazine. View the original publication: Commercial Transformations Issue 2.