All people have abilities, strengths and weaknesses. They come in different sizes, shapes and colours, and have been socialized by a variety of influences, in myriad ways. While each person is different, all people share the need to be treated with respect and dignity. This means that every person needs to be able to live in a way that acknowledges and values their ethno-cultural background, and that recognizes their individual needs for privacy, control, confidentiality, comfort, autonomy, safety and self-esteem. Legal interpretations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms indicate that federally-funded buildings and services must become fully accessible. The Human Rights Commission and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, have forced owners to make buildings that are open to the public accessible. While conformance to minimum standards is both necessary and important, it's better to develop a welcoming attitude.
Allen & Lea is committed to making buildings and places that are inclusive, and safe, and adaptable over the long term. The proportion of people with disabilities will increase as Canada`s population ages, and we would like to create buildings that are going resist obsolescence. Housing that is designed to be accessible or adaptable must provide the basic infrastructure to allow customization for a wide range of changing disabilities, as many physical and cognitive conditions worsen over time. Informed choices made in the design stage will let future residents maximize their potential for independence, to manage their own lives, and to avoid or delay institutionalization. Barriers restrict mobility for some, but barrier-free design is equal opportunity: it endeavors to make the built environment accessible and usable to all people.
Design strategies that integrate the millions of Canadians that have special needs will result in places that are more convenient and easier to use for everyone (for example, a ramp is as useful to a parent pushing a baby stroller as it is to someone in a wheelchair). Barrier-free design, or as it is sometimes known, universal design, is good design: humane, pleasing and fundamental to the needs of all.
> To Allen & Lea clients: not all of the items listed on these pages will be incorporated into the design of your new building. Rather, this is intended to foster a discussion about possibilities, priorities, and alternatives. Use these pages in conjunction with Allen & Lea‘s Sustainability pages to help us figure out the best building possible to suit your needs.