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The Ring - CCxA

Editorial Board Message

A message from Eric Klaver, Chair, Ground Editorial Board

This edition of Ground gives some insight into issues of access and landscape. This message is being written from a makeshift home office, due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis—a small 8×10 space with one window. This, along with the rest of the house, will be the physical boundary of my world for the next few weeks. My wife suffers from an auto-immune disease, and the condition requires that any outside venturing is only if absolutely necessary. This reality gives a glimpse into how small a world can become when barriers are in place that limit participation in everyday life. Without access to the outside world, to social and community spaces, we aren’t able to fully participate in life, down to the basics we all take for granted every time we use a set of stairs, a door, or conduct a transaction at a counter in a corner store. An acute feeling for nearly everyone who is social distancing right now, lack of access contributes to social isolation and alienation. Accessibility isn’t just a physical need but also a psychological one.

Accessibility comes with understanding the perspective of the lived experience of the needs of the differently abled. The ambition of the Access issue is to explore this physical and psychological space. The experts and professional contributors within offer perspectives from regulatory and design frameworks, as well as lived experience. In landscape, accessible accommodations are often viewed in opposition to the project’s concept and ambitions—“backing in” regulatory parameters, rather than “baking in” accessibility principles. AODA requirements (whose demands will only increase in the profession in the coming years) ensure a minimum accommodation, and while these regulations impact and dictate design parameters, in their application they are mute on design itself. Design, especially good design, can’t be legislated, though it is informed by the lives of those who will experience it. Perhaps starting with the perspective of accessibility can preclude the need to design for it.

Eric Klaver, OALA
Chair, Editorial Board
[email protected]