Beyond ADA: Designing Accessible Wayfinding for the Visually Impaired

Finding your way in a new environment or simply negotiating a known environment with ease is a daily, routine experience for most of us, but one that can be particularly daunting for the visually impaired. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act mandated design standards for signage to accommodate the visually challenged over a decade ago, those standards fall short of current thinking as well as effectiveness.

Approximately 17% of the global population experiences some visual impairment. Yet, less than 10% of the blind and visually challenged know how to read braille, and today only 10% of blind children learn braille. How, then, can they confidently interact with the environment?

The discipline of wayfinding combined with design expertise can lead to forward-looking strategies and processes that enable those with diminished sight to better connect with any space operationally, emotionally, and for greater equity. This whitepaper from IA Interior Architects explores some of those strategies as well as current research and specific design solutions around accessibility for those with low vision or without vision. Raising awareness of this rarely discussed issue and the array of approaches and options that could potentially make a significant difference in the quality of life for this population has been our inspiration.

Shannon Farr, Experiential Designer, IA Interior Architects

Julie Maggos, Senior Director of Experiential Design, IA Interior Architects
Anna Lai, Experiential Design Director, IA Interior Architects

Key Research Findings, IA Interior Architects
Key Research Findings, IA Interior Architects