Architects prepare plans and specifications for new construction and remodeling in private and public buildings. Many architects are helpfully guided by principles of universal design, an orientation based upon the concept that buildings and objects are most useful when they are designed for the widest range of people. Universal design views disability as an integral part of the human experience.
Architects are licensed professionals who pass the Architect Registration Examination. Approximately one-third of all licensed architects are certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the necessary qualification for inter-state practice.
Architects are responsible for compliance with building codes and ordinances. The International Building Code (IBC) is the most widely recognized American building code, developed as part of an ongoing process that is coordinated between the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Code Council (ICC).
Architects are responsible for the structural elements of buildings that create accessibility for people with physical disabilities. The standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for building accessibility are identified by the IBC as “ICC/ANSI A117.1 Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities”. Architects also work with building systems engineers to facilitate the installation of adaptive communication equipment for people with sensory disabilities.
Although compliance is not required in private homes, it will be helpful for your architect to be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). In designing a home that is responsive to the needs of a person with disability, it may also be helpful for your architect to consult with healthcare professionals such as occupational therapists, audiologists and ophthalmologists.Interior designers who have received certification from the Academy of Healthcare Interior Designers (AHID) can help an architect to integrate a homeowner's personal sense of beauty into a technically sophisticated design.When comprehensive information illuminates issues of function and safety, space will be wisely used, a home's interior and exterior environments will be protected, and effective adaptations will be made for people with disabilities. The goal of these adaptations is to make them useful and appealing to everyone regardless of their current disability status.
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