Element of the Month: Lia Byrd

The Housing Design Standards for Accessibility and Inclusion equip designers, builders, and developers with guidelines and frameworks for disability-forward housing creation. It highlights cross-disability accessibility and design decisions that are anchored in inclusion. Each month we feature one of our partners and the Element they’re most excited about.

Name: Lia Bryd | Housing Analyst | The Kelsey

Image description: Young black woman, sitting on a staircase. Right hand placed on cheek, left hand is placed on her knee.

This month, we highlight Housing Analyst, Lia Bryd. She comes to us through BAHIP (Bay Area Housing Internship Program), a local organization that helps students of color jumpstart careers in affordable housing development. Currently in her senior year at California State University, East Bay, she is studying Sociology with a concentration in Black Studies. Flipping through our Design Standards, she found an essential and helpful element, Access Controls. She loves this technical answer for those with dexterity issues, low vision or who are juggling mobility devices (wheelchair, cane, crutches). Ultimately, she agrees with the goal of making daily life easier for all residents, regardless of disability. 

Name of Element: Access Controls

Description: Use proximity sensors for access controls rather than contact card readers and/or keypads for daily resident use.

  • Eliminates the need to dig for a card in a pocket, purse, backpack
  • Especially helpful for people with low dexterity, arthritis, and for mobility device users to keep their hands available for movement (pushing a wheelchair, using crutches, etc.)
  • Eliminates need to position a wheelchair to reach for the card reader
  • Speeds entry for everyone – especially welcome in inclement weather
  • Eliminates need for low-sighted user to find the contact reader target
  • More hygienic than a keypad

Design Category: Site

Impact Area(s):  Mobility & Height; Vision

Additional Benefit(s): Safety; Beauty & Better Design

Why is this element important to you, personally or for the project?

This element is an important feature because it allows residents easier access into their homes. Access Controls eliminates the struggle to find their key cards or bend uncomfortably to reach the unit lock. This feature will sense when the person arrives and let them in. This is not only a great idea, but very thoughtful for making access to one’s home easier!

How would you explain this element to a 2nd grader?

Some people with certain movement, height, and vision disabilities struggle getting into their front doors with keys and key cards. This access control system will allow them to be near their home, and their door will automatically open for them.

How did this accessibility element change (for the better) the overall project (optional)?

This accessibility element will improve the overall project because it is a unique feature that will allow residents a more convenient way to enter their homes.

What recommendations would you make to someone designing a disability-forward housing project (related to the design standards)?

I would recommend that a designer uses the insight of someone with lived experience with disability throughout the process to provide feedback to make their housing property more accessible. Having an impressive background, education or data points from relevant research is good, but lived experiences give a different yet equally important perspective that may not have been considered. Housing that is accessible benefits everyone, with and without disabilities.