Inclusive Design Standards

26% of people have a disability, yet it’s estimated that less than 6% of the national housing supply is designed to be accessible. As housing communities are created, they don’t often meet the diverse accessibility and inclusion needs of people with disabilities. While code sets the baseline for what’s required, no holistic guidelines define an implementable, progressive approach to creating truly accessible and inclusive housing. The Inclusive Design Standards aim to equip designers, builders, and developers with guidelines and frameworks for disability-forward housing creation.

The cover of the Inclusive Design Standards. Cover reads "Inclusive Design Standards, The Kelsey in partnership with Mikiten Architecture and the Inclusive Design Council. First Edition."


The Inclusive Design Standards define a set of multifamily housing design and operations strategies. Co-created by advocates, developers, and architects, the elements support cross-disability accessibility and link disability-forward design choices to intersectional benefits around affordability, sustainability, racial equity, and safety. Development teams can use the Design Standards to plan and design their projects, then self-certify their communities on their level of access and inclusion.

Click to access the Inclusive Design Standards.

The link includes open-source access to the Design Standards, a text-only version, and a self-certification tool.

Screenshot of people in boxes on a zoom call


The Kelsey created the Design Standards in partnership with Erick Mikiten of Mikiten Architecture. They were shaped with the support of our Inclusive Design Council as well as workshops with designers, developers, and architects.

This is an image of the Element Detail sheet for the Design Standards. It shows a sheet diagram showing a design elements and it's explanation through graphics, description, and sources. The left column shows a categorization based on Impact Areas and Additional Benefits. The top right shows the element score and whether it is Essential.


The Inclusive Design Standards consist of over 300 Elements. Elements reflect design and operations choices and include development strategies, building features, or operational policies that support accessibility and inclusion. Elements range from specific physical features to resident services, design team makeup to building amenities, leasing strategies to materials selection, and beyond. The Design Standards organize elements by Design Categories, Impact Areas, and Additional Benefits.

Headshots of Inclusive Design CounciI members


The Kelsey, Mikiten Architecture, and the ten (10) members of the Inclusive Design Council are available to provide project-specific or capacity-building technical assistance for your housing projects or community. For partnerships, support needs, or to connect with an individual member of our Inclusive Design Council contact us here.


Committed Firms

Committed Firms champion the Inclusive Design Standards by actively using and sharing them. They drive access and inclusion forward in their work and communities and include designers, developers, research institutions, advocates, funders, and community organizations.  To become a Committed Firm, contact us.