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Focus on accessibility at new St. Erik Eye Hospital

21 September 2020

When planning the new premises for St. Erik Eye Hospital, accessibility, especially for visitors with impaired sight, has been a focal point.
"We want to be the best at functionality, especially for individuals with impaired vision, as they are a main patient group," says Kicki Morsing, communications director and accessibility project manager at the new St. Erik Eye Hospital.

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Anna Bergqvist, accessibility specialist at Region Stockholm’s real estate company Locum, and Kicki Morsing review the tactile paths that form an unbroken chain all the way into the clinics.

St. Erik will rent half of the new premises in Hagastaden, the new city district emerging on the border between Stockholm and Solna. Along with the property owner, Vitartes, St. Erik has participated in the design of the new facilities.

The accessibility project began as soon as the architects at White Arkitekter started outlining the design of the new building. Accessibility expert May-Britt Rolén has been involved throughout the project to ensure compliance with the applicable planning and building legislation, along with other guidelines.

When the project started a few years ago, we went to the ‘Invisible Exhibition’, where we had to fumble around in total darkness. The visit gave everyone involved a better understanding of what living with a vision impairment is like, says May-Britt Rolén.

Woman in a helmet and a yellow vest.
“Synskadades riksförbund” (National Association for the Visually Impaired) have participated in designing the accessibility features at St Erik. Kicki Morsing inspects the lift signage. Photo: Jens Sølvberg

When designing the new hospital, representatives from different care user organisations, such as “Synskadades Riksförbund” (National Association for the Visually Impaired) have been involved.

The opinions and thoughts of patient councils have played a major part in our project. We have discussed all possible aspects on accessibility, and the views have been submitted to the property owner and the architects, says Kicki Morsing.

Strong contrasts within the building has been a priority area.

One example is that the floor at the bottom of a lightly coloured staircase cannot be too dark, as this gives a feeling of stepping into a void. Another is that glass surfaces on walls and doors must be equipped with contrast markings to avoid accidents, says Kicki Morsing.

In order to help patients find their way around the hospital, corridors and waiting rooms are decorated with contrasting colours. The lighting has been adjusted to create smooth light areas that are not blinding.

A staircase sign with braiile and relief text.
Lift buttons and some of the signs contain both braille and relief text to make them readable to everyone. Photo: Jens Sølvberg

The hospital signs emerge from a signage system that has been evaluated in many hospitals and healthcare institutions around the county. All signs in the hospital must have strong contrasts and be easy to read.

Our patients must be met with the same words and concepts as in their appointment notices and on our website. Everything must be consistent and coherent throughout to the waiting room, says Kicki Morsing.

The direction signs and lift buttons, as well as other selected signs, have also been adapted to tactile accessibility. They present both braille and elevated text to make them readable by touch.

All accessibility exertions aim for effortless and safe patient visits to the new St. Erik Eye Hospital.

We have strived to be thorough and adherent to all accessibility regulations, but still, many things can go wrong in a construction project. We expect having to rectify things that we did not think of, or failed to request. If we do not see it ourselves, our patients will inform us, says Kicki Morsing.

Text: Mats Almegård

Updated
16 October 2020