Inclusive Design Must Be Standard Procedure

Its five principles lie at the core of vibrant, sustainable communities In 2006, England’s Commission for Architecture and the Built […]

Its five principles lie at the core of vibrant, sustainable communities

In 2006, England’s Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), a leader in accessible and universal design, published Five Principles of Inclusive Design.

The way places are designed affects our ability to move, see, hear and communicate effectively. Inclusive design aims to remove barriers that create undue effort and separation, and thereby enable everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities. Meeting access needs should be an integral part of what we do every day, and we should use our creativity to find innovative and individual solutions.

1. Inclusive design places people at the heart of the design process. Design and development should create spaces and buildings that people can use to form vibrant and sustainable communities. To achieve this, we must ensure that as many people as possible are involved in the design; wheelchair access should not be the base level or an optional extra.

2. Inclusive design acknowledges diversity and difference. Everyone at some point will probably experience limited mobility. It is important to identify barriers to inclusion as early as possible within the design process, so that good design can overcome them. The needs of wheelchair users and persons with mobility disabilities must be addressed, as well as barriers experienced by people with cognitive and learning disabilities, mental illness, visual and hearing impairments.

3. Inclusive design offers choice, where a single design solution cannot accommodate all users. Considering people’s diversity can break down barriers and exclusion, and often achieve superior solutions that benefit everyone. By applying the same high design standards to meet the access requirements of all users, inclusive design embraces everyone on equal terms. An environment should exceed minimum technical specifications.

4. Inclusive design provides for flexibility in use. Meeting the principles of inclusive design requires an understanding of how the building or space will be used and who will use it. Places need to be designed so that they can adapt to changing uses and demands.

5. Inclusive design provides buildings and environments that are convenient and enjoyable to use for everyone. Access to a building isn’t simply a question of the physical layout. Signage, lighting, visual contrast and materials must be considered. Opportunity to use all elements within the site is crucial.

Inclusive design must be considered at the outset of the design process, and remain integral throughout. The principles relate as much to the design process as to the final product, and apply equally to management, operation and information. Users should be involved during all parts of the design process from the planning phase, through detailed design, and on to construction, occupation, management and operation.

As our aging population increases, we need to argue that inclusive design is not a choice, but a basic essential. The way buildings and spaces are designed should reflect these five principles.

Information taken from guide published by CABE, London, England 2006