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Access Living


Established in 1980, Access Living is a nonresidential Center for Independent Living for people with all types of disabilities – one of the first in the country. 

Access Living’s programs and services promote the empowerment, independence and inclusion of people with all types of disabilities in every aspect of community life. It is located in Chicago, Illinois.

This center is especially proud of its location. In 2007, it moved into a building that had been created to showcase universal design in architecture. According to the article on its website, some of the features include:

"Building Entrance
Several levels of drop-off ramps at curbside and the outside sidewalk ease movement. The doorway had to be automatic and at street-level. The automatic double doors have an air curtain in the vestibule for energy efficiency
But our new building is so much more than bricks and mortar. The glass-faced edifice stands as a powerful symbol of the community’s potential; a testament to our goals of empowering people with disabilities to pursue meaningful, independent lives.

Building Lobby
Ten percent of the building materials incorporate post-consumer recycled materials, and five percent of the building materials incorporate post-industrial recycled materials.

Conference Center
Rooms will be sized to allow convenient circulation for people using wheelchairs.State-of-the-art assistive listening systems will be provided in all meeting and conference rooms.

Now in a more visible, central location near converging lines of accessible public transit, Access Living can reach deeper into the community. Every day, scores of people, both long-time members and new visitors, flow in and out of the building to use the mainline or video
telephone service, extensive reference library, visit the history exhibit, or meet with staff around issues critical to people with disabilities.

Brick by brick, the people within the building are working to tear down the shameful wall of exclusion that for so long has separated people with disabilities from equality, and replacing that wall with pride, dignity and empowerment.

Work Stations use a modular design that employees can adjust to fit their needs. Built from recycled items, the cubicles are standard, not customized.

Come Inside! Access Living Building Tour
A spotlight on how the building integrates Universal and Green Design
The new Access Living headquarters is a model of how seamless integration of two naturally compatible design philosophies respects those who use the space."

In addition to being able to take a floor by floor virtual tour of the building, there is a video on their website that further outlines the usefulness of universal design while incorporating features that are helpful for those with disabilities-elevator doors that open from both sides for example.

The majority of the staff at Access Living are persons with disabilities.

Contact Info:
Name:Rahnee Patrick
Title:Interim Program Director
Organization:Access Living
Address:115 West Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone:312) 640-2100 voice; (800) 613-8549 toll free; (312) 640-2102 tty (888) 253-7003 toll free tty
Fax:(312) 640-2101

Web Links

Home page of Access Living (includes virtual tour of the building)

information about the universal and green design of the building

This information was found at www.qualitymall.org