Sunday, March 2, 2008

The ADA and feng shui

I was reading this NY Times piece about a McDonald's that used feng shui to appeal to customers this morning. The article spoke about bringing in consultants and designers. As I read along, I saw these words:

But not everything recommended for this McDonald’s was practical, Ms. Clifford said. One has to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, among other things.

Nonetheless, the traditional McDonald’s was radically altered.

I posit that there can be no feng shui without universal design and suggest, perhaps, a different ending to some of these tales of woe about the ADA, perhaps brought on by ignorance. The problem is in the approach. The ignorance arises from not knowing  what the designers did not do - they may have explored other cultures and architecture, but they did not consider universal design.

Universal design. Yeah. That.  Rather than seeing the ADA as a rule that has to be followed, applying universal design would have resulted in a space that provided feng shui for everyone.

Providing harmonious surroundings for everyone would not include the counter shown in the picture with the article. Note the height of it and how it's surrounded by stools, which would present obstacles to wheelchair users. It's creating an area that lacks access - a wheelchair user can't get near it and, even if one could, there are height issues.

How sad that this article thoroughly misses the point and, in the process, implies that the ADA and its requirements got in the way of providing harmonious surroundings. 

Truly, it is the other way around.