Access for people with disabilities luminance contrast

Luminance Contrast is the bright idea for enhancing access

As building certifiers and members of the building development industry, we know how clever design of an environment can help make lives easier and facilitate independence. Contrary to popular sentiment, Luminance Contrast is one such clever design idea.

Parents strive to educate their children and provide them with the knowledge and skills to be independent and self-sufficient, and once we are adults, our success at accomplishing this becomes a source of pride and self-respect. Unfortunately, however, sometimes life deals out challenges that are impossible to overcome independently and we are forced to seek external support from family, friends, and the community.

In order to help support these individuals, our industry has taken steps to incorporate certain construction principles into our building law. These considerations of the physical environment are a silent contribution that helps to facilitate greater independence within the community.

Luminance Contrast is Clever Design 

When I mentioned the “clever design” principles of Luminance Contrast, I could almost hear the architects, designers and builders shouting, “Clever?? Are you kidding??” Well I didn’t say it was easy, I said it was clever. An idea that enables the use of colour to integrate luminance contrast into a design creation, without it being noticed except by those who need it, is a clever design indeed. I call it the “silent luminance contrast”.

However, maybe the real question should be, “does the design take away the independence of some in our community?” And if yes, “what can we do to prevent this?

Us building certifiers, architects, designer and builders, have to take the lead in this initiative and demonstrate to our clients the need for this element to be part of our design and construction principles. I hear so many say that luminance contrast “destroys the design” and takes away the “look and feel” of the project. However, maybe the real question should be, “does the design take away the independence of some in our community?” And if yes, “what can we do to prevent this?”

Well, my challenge to everyone in the industry is to start looking at the world through the eyes of those that are vision impaired, and consider what they might think. Go out on that limb, and start encouraging your clients and other professionals around you to change their thinking on this issue.

If you need more inspiration, go back and have a look at our cartoon at the top of this page. It is only a vague estimation of the reality as seen through the eyes of someone with 20/20 vision.

We are going to be writing several stories on luminance contrast in the future. Feel free to refer your clients to them, and help us all be part of the solution.

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I am a Director of Devcert and have been a Building Surveyor since 1989. I have a bachelor degree in building surveying and I am a qualified carpenter. I have been in the construction industry since 1981. I have a real passion for the building certification profession as I believe building certifiers are the general practitioners of the construction industry. Our role is not only to know building law and apply it, our role includes assisting in the development of the knowledge of all in the industry by sharing our knowledge and experience.