Disability Advocates of Kent County’s (Disability Advocates) mission is to eliminate systemic barriers and enhance programs so that people with disabilities can live the self-directed lives they choose.
Having expanded over the years into an outdated and maze-like office space, they realized the potential to partner with other nonprofits at the Special Olympics Michigan Unified Sports and Inclusion Center, which houses multiple organizations offering services to people living with disabilities.
Disability Advocates engaged MMA to design a new and welcoming office space focused on natural light and universal design principles. The 8,400 square foot space includes 24 offices, 15 workspaces, two conference rooms, break areas, and additional storage for occupational therapy equipment. With inclusivity always in mind, the design includes sliding doors, dimmable lights, clear navigation, careful placement of electrical outlets and cabinetry knee space, and thoughtful workstation placement for the neurodivergent.
Disability Advocates’ new LEED certified home also features the region’s first Home Accessibility Center, which acts as an exhibit or showroom for those with disabilities, their families, contractors, designers, and occupational therapists to see how existing kitchens, bathrooms, and other spaces can be renovated to allow individuals to continue living at home. The Center was designed through a thoughtful, collaborative process, inviting a wide variety of users, stakeholders, and experts, ranging from wheelchair users and urban planners to Western Michigan University Occupational Therapy professors and Grand Rapids Public Museum staff to offer feedback and design guidance with the team. The center allows the community to experience firsthand the benefits of universal design and how it can make a difference in the lives of those living with disabilities.