02-05-2019 09:08 AM - edited 02-05-2019 09:15 AM
As part of our advocacy, #OneAccessibility, we will share information about differently able and profile one location with accessible trails. Look out every week for this enlightening post.
When we talk about furniture in regards to accessibility, the term we’re looking for is ergonomics. In August 2000, the International Ergonomics Association Executive Council defined ergonomics as “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among human and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”
Ergonomics essentially answers the questions:
(1) Is our environment safe, comfortable and productive?
(2) Are we able to fully perform our human abilities and functions within our environment?
This is where the furniture and interior design comes in, especially since we spend much of our time in the workplace. Answering "Yes" to both questions above means that your workplace has the right system in place to offer an accessible-friendly space. Each of the photos below illustrates furniture designs that are beneficial to individuals with or without mobility issue.
There are some things to consider when choosing on a piece of more accessible furniture, and they include:
- Height. Chairs and tables should be high enough where if a wheelchair is needed, the individual can easily enter in and out.
- Stability. Furniture needs to be firm but also easily movable. Having arms on the chairs may or may not work depending on the environment and who it caters to (i.e. school or factory).
- Material. Selecting a material is crucial to safety. A family restaurant, for example, would not have glass-top tables as the sharp edges offer a risk whereas an adult-only restaurant can have that as risks would be minimized.
Pearlville School is a private boarding secondary school in Avu-Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. The school has built-in ramps in the front that are wheelchair accessible and various furniture for those with mobility issues. Pearlville School displays a great example of ergonomics as the classrooms have different types of furniture provisions for different types of students while still considering the factors that create a conducive environment for learning.
If you have a question, suggestion or contribution, feel free to comment below. Read last week's roundup here.