Interview with Rex Pace

January 14, 2016

by Katherine Blakeslee

Birdseye view of accessible parking, route, and entrt for a polling locationI had the pleasure of meeting Rex Pace while he was attending the ArchitectureBoston Expo (ABX) on November 19. He was presenting in two sessions one entitled, “ADA Updates 2015” and the other, “ADA and Mass Architectural Access Board Regulations Untangling the Confusion,” alongside Kathy Gips, who is our Director of Training at the New England ADA Center. Mr. Pace is the senior accessibility specialist at the U.S. Access Board, and also serves as the technical assistance coordinator.

Sitting down with Rex, we dove right into what got him started in access work. He started out at firm called Barrier Free Environments, which provided access to people with disabilities. He told me that it opened up a whole new way of thinking. Interestingly enough, one of his first projects was illustrations for Adaptive Environments, now known as the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD). Rex asserted, “The IHCD is a good example of what an organization could be in terms of innovation and creativity.”

Fast forward 25 years later, and Rex is still making waves in the field of accessible design. Working at the U.S. Access Board, he receives plenty of basic questions related to designing doors, bathroom layouts, and parking spaces. One of the challenges of his work is the diversity of the situations they deal with; but he mentions that’s exactly why it is exciting because he is always learning something new.

One of the projects Rex was excited to tell me about during our interview are the online guides with animations the Access Board is developing. He commented, “The animations make the standards come alive and have a lot more meaning.” They have already finished the four chapters, but there is still more to come.

I concluded the interview asking Rex if he was planning on any future trainings in the New England area. He confidentially said, “[New England ADA Center] has got it covered.” Rex told me he has a lot of admiration for the work we are doing and the energy we put into it.

The link to the Access Board’s ADA Standards guide is here: www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards/guide-to-the-ada-standards

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