From wheelchair ramps to braille on ATMs, society is becoming more inclusive by making the world accessible to individuals with disabilities. The next change will open many doors–literally. Vancouver has amended its building code to require buildings to use levers instead of doorknobs. This will make the city more accessible for the elderly and anyone who suffers from arthritis or weakened hands. This shift follows other changes in architecture and infrastructure, such as cut curbs at sidewalk corners. The aim is to make the city “universally accessible.”
Universally accessible design has the needs of the whole population at its core. Traditional architecture includes adaptations like ramps or external lifts that make structures accessible for individuals with disabilities. On the other hand, universally accessible design makes life easier for able-bodied people as well–consider the times you’ve tried opening doorknobs with your hands full of grocery bags. The mechanics of a lever make this task simpler for all.
While there is a change, it is not necessarily a ban. Old structures with round knobs will be grandfathered in. However, all new structures will be required to use door levers instead of knobs. Structures ranging from homes to government offices will have to comply with the change. Still, many people aren’t accepting this change with open arms. Doorknobs do have aesthetic value, and many old homes have valuable historic hardware.
Vancouver is the only city in Canada with its own building code, which makes it both a building code trend-setter and laboratory for change. It is yet to be seen whether other areas of the country as a whole will embrace the change from round handles to levers.
Thanks to Elvert Barnes for the image.