Accessible Design Forefront

The capital of a country can be a model for accessibility standards, and the building of a new facility presents a perfect opportunity to create cutting-edge design. The City of Ottawa, Ontario, the capital of Canada, strives to be on the forefront of accessible design. The new Richcraft Recreation Complex in the suburb of Kanata is a shining example of practical and beautiful design; it includes sports and fitness facilities, pools, and multi-purpose rooms. 

The numerous accessibility features of the Richcraft Recreation Complex include, but are not limited to, the following: accessible parking and path of travel from the lot to the entrance; wide, clearly labeled accessible entrances; power doors on the interior and exterior; accessible seating; accessible reception counters; non-slip floors and low pile carpet; signage that is high contrast, with large lettering and tactile features; lowered sink counters, soap and towel dispensers, and drinking fountains; visible and audible indicators in elevators; ramp access to pools, with a water wheelchair available; and accessible cardio equipment. Conveniently, the City of Ottawa lists the accessibility features of its public buildings (here http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/accessibility-services/municipal-accessibility-plan-and-policies/accessibility-features), a strategy that other cities would do well to adopt. This directory makes it clear that buildings are intended to be accessible and welcoming, and can help residents and visitors choose which facilities to visit.

The City of Ottawa admits that older buildings may not be accessible to all, as they were built to “accessibility standards that were in force at that time,” but new construction and renovation projects adhere to Ottawa’s Accessibility Design Standards (available here http://documents.ottawa.ca/sites/documents.ottawa.ca/files/documents/accessibility_design_standards_en.pdf), which go over and above provincial requirements. Ottawa is committed to ensuring (and publicizing) that City-owned and operated facilities are inclusive and accessible to all residents, visitors, and employees.

To learn more about the Richcraft Recreation Complex and take a virtual tour, click here, and to learn more about Ottawa’s commitment to accessibility, click here.