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During the design process, engineers need to decide on tons of possible choices based

on the requirement of products, design values or codes and standards. Engineering

design values can be reflected in many everyday objects, for example, an elevator.

Design for Accessibility---Elevators at Innis College

There are 2 elevators located on the southern wing of

Innis College. Each elevator is approximately 1.05m wide
[Figure 1] and has a maximun capacity of 1160 kg. The
existence of the elevators shows that the designer(s) of the
building want the widest range of people be able to get access
to different floors regardless of their ability, which leads to
the discussion of design value accessibility. In the
following paragraphs, I am going to analyze the features of the Figure 1
elevators in terms of accessibility.

Accessibility describes whether a device could be used by the widest range of

people regardless of their ability. There are three essential features on the elevators that
makes it more accessible: the existence of Braille signs, the location of the buttons and
the lighting inside the elevator.

1. There are two Braille signs indicating the location of floor besides
the elevator door [Figure 2]. In addition, each button in the elevator
cab has a corresponding Braille number below it [Figure 3].
According to City of Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines, it
is suggested that for elevators and platform lifts need to include
Figure 2
GUIDELINES, 2003). This allows the people with visual limitations to
use the facility without the need of help from others, and hence
improves accessibility.

Figure 3
2. The height of the push buttons is located approximately 1.1m above the ground,
which is about my waist height when I am standing. This height enables the
people with mobility aids to reach the buttons. As indicated in the City of
Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines, the maximun height can be reached by
people in wheel chairs is 1370mm and the minimun height is 460mm therefore all
control components should be mounted between 610mm and 1200mm on the
floor. The buttons are installed within their reachable range, which makes the
facility more accessible.
3. The light intensity is bright enough inside the elevator cab and outside in the
lobby. The brightness inside the cab is measured to be 186 lux [Figure 4] and 216
lux in the lobby [Figure 5]. According to the City of Toronto Accessibility
Design Guidelines, the lighting is suggested to be no less than 100 lux. Also, the
lighting level in the cab should be similar to that in the lobby to minimize the
hazards of tripping. The light intensity measured at Innis College follows this
guideline, which makes this facility easier to use and minimize potential tripping
hazards and hence improves the accessibility.

Figure 4 Figure 5

However, the elevators at Innis College misses one feature required by City of
Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines that audible signal shall be indicating the
passing or location of the floor. This might cause inconveniece for people with visual
limitations if they have difficulties seeing the visual signal indicating the position of
the floor. Yet the overall design of the elevators is fairly good in terms of
accessibility. The elevators incorporates tactile informations; The push buttons are
located in the reachable range for people with mobility aid and the light intensity
improves the accessibility of the elevators. If available, the elevators could be
upgraded by incorporating audible signals to maximize accessibility.

From the experience of observing the elevators, I practiced on identifying

engineering design values of existing designs. It also taught me to use handbooks or
design guidelines to evaluate a design. In addition, this experience teaches me to
consider the diversity of stakeholders of any designs Im working on. Designing for
accessibility is also a reflection of respecting people regardless of their abilities. I
would try to incorporate accessibility into my future designs and demonstrate my
value of respect.

CITY OF TORONTO ACCESSIBILITY DESIGN GUIDELINES. (2003) (1st ed., pp. 52-84). Toronto.
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