Laboratories for teaching and research are highly specialized facilities, and as such present unique challenges to designers who wish to make them accessible to all users.Federal standards mandating accessibility for Americans with disabilities make necessary the integration of Universal Design into design attitudes.
There are four basic areas of concern for designers of accessible and usable labs:
- Casework, benches and shelving
- Floor-standing equipment such as fume hoods
- Movable or benchtop equipment
- Controls and alarms
In using Universal Design to remodel old facilities or build new ones, planners should remember that the process of making a place or item accessible for a certain portion of the population should not make the use of a facility or item more difficult for able-bodied persons. Many examples of sensitive design benefit everyone, and may also not involve any additional expense.