Universal Design in Education: Teaching Nontraditional Students

By Frank G. Bowe | Go to book overview
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Chapter 7
Principle Seven


Definition: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.

The issues in Principle Seven are much more obviously applicable to building design than to education. However, they do have implications for teachers. These are explored below.

Accessibility in the built environment has been a requirement in the United States for more than 25 years. In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act (PL 93-112) created the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board ("Access Board") and gave it responsibility for enforcing the 1968 Architectural Barriers Act, which required that many buildings constructed by federal agencies be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities. The Board began doing so in 1975. Even before that time, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) had published a voluntary set of guidelines, still known as ANSI A117.1. Over time, the Access Board's rules, which have become mandatory for public and private entities subject to the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA; PL 101-336), and ANSI's A117.1 voluntary guidelines have become more similar. The ANSI A117.1 standard is available from the Institute (details: www.ansi.org).

In late 1999, the Access Board published a set of proposed changes to its 1991 ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG) ( Federal Register, November 16, 1999). When the changes become final in late 2000, they will serve as a minimum baseline for federal agencies that enforce the ADA, notably including the U.S. Department of Justice. The Access Board itself, and its Guidelines, have no statutory authority over most buildings and facilities. The Justice Department adopted the 1991 ADAAG and made it enforceable; I expect Justice to do the same with the 1999


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