What is inclusive design?
Inclusive design: is defined by the British Standards Institute (BSI, BS8300) as “the design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible… without the need for special adaption or specialised design.” It furthers on this definition by saying that it is not simply a stage that can be added in the design process and it is not solely about designing products for a specific capability loss.

The final point there is one of significant importance – The concept of inclusive design should mean that prior to constructing a building, the needs and requirements of all should be taken into consideration, to ensure that the finished product is completed to the specification that is suitable en masse, rather than aimed at one section of society. Whilst we are all clear on the meaning of what ‘inclusive design’ is, it appears that the only factor left that seems to be so often misinterpreted is the definition of ‘majority.’

We all live in buildings: We work in buildings, we socialise and consume in buildings and if you’re reading this – you’re most probably inside a building right now. If you are, I want you to look around and consider, for a brief moment, what steps have been taken during its design and build to allow the structure to be accessible and usable by “as many people as possible.” Can you see examples, if any, where the idea of inclusive design has been utilised successfully? If not, I’m sure you can see areas of the building that could have been developed considerably better if it had. Can you also honestly say that if a friend or colleague had a life-changing incident would they still be able to visit you?

Take stairs for example: Stairs are primarily used for moving people; they provide access to offices, bedrooms, bathrooms, storage spaces, amenities and can often be central to the whole function of a building. Stairs help us navigate the terrain around us, tackle elevations in the landscape and are an integral part of modern life.
These stairs – a useful architectural tool, are used successfully by millions each year as a fundamental access point to various areas. For other members of society, namely wheelchair users and people with physical disabilities, these stairs can prove to be a difficult obstacle or worse, a blockade; sometimes entirely preventing access to the building or open space.

Although the (BSI, BS8300) state that inclusive design is not about catering solely to those with such needs and requirements, instead covering a much wider demographic by aiming to appease everybody, it seems difficult to believe that some members of society have been considered at all when in 21st Century Britain we still have buildings and public places that are frankly inaccessible to disabled people even though we now have the Equality Act 2010 and updated Building Regulations.

Accessibility isn’t easy to define, as it depends on each person’s specific needs: Society is made up of individuals; inclusive design can bring forth interesting perspectives to that could ultimately change our horizons and the landscape around us.

When designing a building, aesthetics are widely considered paramount. An overall look of a building directly influence our surroundings, the appearance evoking emotion in the people viewing it. It can convey a message of warmth, power, security and competence. Embassy buildings are famously designed it innovative and dramatic ways. Whilst the appearance of a building is incredibly important, it is equally important that the building is fit-for-purpose. Indeed, many of the greatest feats of architectural prowess are those buildings that manage to achieve a stunning balance – exceptional in both design and functionality.
Have you ever asked yourself these types of questions but feel hesitant to act?

Will I cause offence if I offer help to a person with a disability?

Will I cause offence by using words like ‘see, hear and walk’?

Will I cause offence by asking someone’s about their condition?
Or maybe having these thoughts?

What is reasonable in relation to reasonable adjustments?

How much is this employee with a disability going to cost me?

How best should I communicate with someone with a disability?

Why don’t we get too many disabled people applying for jobs or using our facilities?

Accessibility Cornwall can answer all your thoughts and questions you may have.
About Jamie Hanlon
My passion is focused on helping to create a space that is unique to your needs, aesthetically pleasing but also functional, whilst ensuring equal access for all.

I am highly qualified and experienced in my work as an Interior Designer Specialist, Inclusivity and Access Design Consultant, with over 15 years of residential property experience, 4 years commercial property experience and over 6 years experience as an Access Audit Consultant.

I work with large and small businesses, the public sector, local government, charities and voluntary organisations as well as private homeowners as a designer, adviser or consultant.

Having lived with hearing impairment for over 30+ years and having been involved with a wide range of charities supporting disabled people with different needs, I can readily understand the needs of a wide range of people and create designs to cater for these needs.

I excel at looking at commercial buildings, office spaces, holiday accommodation, hotels, open spaces and homes, always thinking about how I can make them more inclusive to fit the needs of someone with Accessibility issues, whilst enhancing the aesthetic appeal and functionality.
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