INNOVATION January/February 2019

The Blusson Spinal Cord Centre—home to ICORD, UBC's spinal cord injury research centre—recently received a RHFAC Gold rating. The building features wide pathways, plenty of spaciousness, a colour-glass interior, accessible washrooms and elevators, and a 200-metre-long entrance ramp with a 5 percent incline. P hoto by W endy N iamath

two issues at once: “be permeable enough to allow some really big old trees stay in place longer,” says Curran, “and provide a really nice, quiet surface to wheel on.” Within that area, the city is also testing at-grade crosswalks, which are easier for wheelchair and walker users to navigate than curb ramps, but is also equipping them with high-contrast tactile paving—textured inserts placed just before intersections—to provide a warning to vision-impaired pedestrians that they are about to step out into the road. “Only some people can detect the contrast in colour, but everyone with a cane can pick up the sound and feel of the tactile domes.” Future challenges for Vancouver, says Building Policy Engineer, Kevin Lau, P.Eng., include beginning to grapple with how to make the city more accessible for people with cognitive impairments. “Cognitive issues are not dealt with in current codes,” he says, “but we know we need to do things like make sure pathways and exits are really clear and intuitive.” Like other accessibility and adaptability measures, he says, “that can only be good for everyone.” j


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