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Critter Barn Earns Silver Certification from the Universal Design Commission

Critter Barn Earns Silver Certification from the Universal Design Commission

ZEELAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — When you walk into the bathroom at the Critter Barn, you should notice how space’s size and the width of the sidewalks. But the less obvious details at the attraction are what earned it Silver Certification from the Universal Design Commission, the first farm in the world to have the designation. 

Mary Rottchaffer, the Director and Founder of the Critter Barn, said “for a farm to be uniquely equipped like this, which allows people to come and learn or to just come an enjoy and just have that respite. It means the world when they can do that now and have ease of use.”

The standards for this certification are more rigorous than the ones required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Campuses and buildings must not only be accessible, but barrier-free for visitors of all ages, abilities and cognitive ranges.

Mike Perry, the Executive Vice President of Progressive AE, the architectural firm that worked on updating the Critter Barn, said it’s about “not always having to ask for help. ‘Can you reach this for me? Can you open this door? Can you help me?’ They can kind of go on their own.”

The farm is expanding classes to include in-depth learning for teenagers and adults. Rottchaffer also said they plan to apply universal design standards to any future builds on the farm.

“Other things that are coming, the production buildings that will represent the layers, turkeys and pigs, all with wide hallways and easy access, no steps, no thresholds,” she said.

Perry said the recognition is nice, but accessibility is a testament to the Critter Barn’s mission. 

“It’s great to get an award, but what this has done has improved the quality of life for so many people,” he said.

The Critter Barn also has special mobility equipment on-site to borrow to make farm immersion and inspiration accessible to all.

Article from WoodTV

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