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Beautiful Barrier Free

This was the second in a series of books about accessible design that I read over the past week. Each book is large and picture-filled, with many ideas of how to design personal and public spaces to be accessible to a wide range of people. This book has the fanciest pictures and has helpful icons by the pictures with descriptions indicating that the particular solution shown is useful to someone with coordination issues, for example, or with hearing difficulties. The book leads us room by room, showing us different furniture, floor-plan and accessory choices and how they increase usability.

I found this book the most attractive of the three to look at, but a little confusing in practice. It wasn’t possible to “track” through the book and look at only accomodations for one type of disability. Often it seemed that what worked well for a person with one type of disability would actually work poorly for a person with a different disability. Though many of the furniture and product designs were marked with the “universal” icon, sometimes it was difficult to tell exactly what part of a picture of, say, a living room was being advocated. In contrast, the book also has many illustrations of charts and graphs which have information on carpet height and drawer depth that are helpful to someone who is designing a space that is intended to be used by people with different disabilities. This book seemed to be more of a source bok and an idea book for accessible design rather than a step by step guide for planning out space.