I fell in love, hard.
Beauty always overwhelms me.
Going to give a lecture, anywhere, has both Joe and I tense a little before arriving. What kind of accessible issues are we going to face? Cut curbs that are indentations in concrete rather than ramps from one level service to another? Doors made for the hips of skinny model women? Door openners that are for service or for show? Every new lecture venue has it's own challenges, we get there, get through and then make a list of what they really need to do if they want people with disabilities to feel welcome.
Well, it's different here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I lectured yesterday for staff (and will again today for parents) in the Grand Valley State University, pew campus. The place is brand new. It's design is welcoming. But, but, but, it's like who ever designed it incoporated accessibility into every feature. From the parking lot in we faced no obsticles. They even had this area where you go in through one door and then a few seconds later through another. You push the blue badge guy on the wall and the first door opens and the second door opens on your approach. Magic.
The lecture hall was sumptuous. The kind of place that audiences love but for me, upon hearing I was on a stage, I expected unweildy ramps at impossible angles. not here. It was designed like they thought that perhaps one day they'd actually have a speaker in a wheelchair in front of an audence. The conspired to make that eventuality possible.
What was amazing to see that universal accessiblity, when designed for, make the buildings both more functional and more beautiful at the same time. Accessiblity, when it's not an add on, enhances the environment for everyone.
This was the first time I was in a space where I felt that, from the ground up, disability was considered. I felt welcome in the BRICKS.
I fell in love with that building.
Because I felt loved by the building.
And only because it said, in its own language in its own way, 'Welcome.'