How to Make Universities More Accessible Through Lighting

Most accessibility building concerns focus on giving people easy access to and through buildings. This can include ramps next to stairs, more breaks in parking lot curbs, and easy-access elevators. But there’s more to it, and changing the lighting plays a huge part in how accessible your university feels. Here’s what to do:

Make sure your lights are useful for people in wheelchairs.

A lot of lighting designs are based on general recommendations for people at average height. Even if your university is consciously making accessible designs in new and renovated buildings, lighting norms are generally entrenched in building codes or left off a checklist of consideration. But a lot of lights hanging on the walls or under wall decorations create unnecessary glare. Think about the last time you looked underneath a lampshade so you could turn off a light and were faced with the sudden brightness of the bare bulb. Many design elements leave the lights exposed to people below a certain height, and this can be solved through adjusted heights or even frosted glass covers that leave access to the bare light at the top instead of the bottom.

Light up critical navigation areas or wayfinding elements.

Finding an awkwardly placed ramp or a hidden access point from the parking lot can be tricky in older university’s that don’t have a lot of space. It’s even harder in the dark. So make your accessibility additions more convenient and user-friendly with a bit of illumination. This can include:

  • Lit ramps,
  • Handrails with LEDs at the bar intersections or at each turning point, and
  • lit signs inside the building that point towards the elevator.

Renovating historical university buildings based on new guidelines and more consideration towards accessibility can be tricky if you have limited space and buildings that have to be as preserved as possible, but adding lighting can help.