Emerge by AIAU: Making Architecture Accessible

Accessibility is a cornerstone of architecture because it ensures that all citizens can enter and use buildings. When architects consider health, safety and welfare of the public, accessibility is top of mind for public welfare since buildings should accommodate all.


Guided by the expertise and insight of industry professionals Brad Gaskins, Tom Hirsch, and Karen Braitmayer, this course highlights the history of accessibility by focusing on the work of civil rights organizations and the role played by members of the American Institute of Architects; discusses how universal design reinforces the principle of access for all; reviews the key requirements of complying with the ADA for new construction; and explains the best approach to updating existing buildings to comply with the ADA. This course offers entry into a conversation that is essential for emerging and seasoned professionals alike.

Complete activities along the way and take a short quiz to receive credit for this course.

Learning objectives

  • Review the history of accessibility: How social equity issues for the disabled shaped the practice of architecture and how accessibility is integrated into architecture today.
  • Learn the how the principles of universal design improve the built environment, allowing easier access and removing barriers for all in the public buildings, independent of age and ability.
  • Evaluate how accessibility is governed by federal law and how it is incorporated in the building codes, which are integral to the design process for new building projects, citing examples and best practices.
  • Discuss the unique challenge of making existing buildings accessible, which requires an understanding of federal law, building codes, and the scope of the renovation being designed.  

This course is part of a series

User rating:
Average: 4.5 (346 votes)
 $50  non-member
 $35  member
1.75 LUs
  • ADA
  • HSW
  • RIBA


  • Karen Braitmayer

    Karen L. Braitmayer


    Founder, Managing Principal | Studio Pacifica

    Braitmayer is the founder and managing principal of Studio Pacifica. With a professional focus on...
  • Bradley Gaskins


    Partner and COO | The McIntosh Group

    Brad has 25+ years of experience in architecture. He is a principal at The McIntosh Group, a...
  • Thomas Hirsch


    President | HIRSCH GROUP LLC

    Thomas Hirsch, FAIA, graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1968 (B. Arch). He is a...