Inclusive Design: Designing and Developing Accessible Environments

Inclusive Design: Designing and Developing Accessible Environments

Inclusive Design: Designing and Developing Accessible Environments

Inclusive Design: Designing and Developing Accessible Environments

Synopsis

The reality of the built environment for disabled people is one of social, physical and attitudinal barriers which prevent their ease of mobility, movement and access. In the United Kingdom, most homes cannot be accessed by wheelchair, while accessible transport is the exception rather than the rule. Pavements are littered with street furniture, while most public and commercial buildings provide few design features to permit disabled people ease of access. Inclusive Design is a documentation of the attitudes, values and practices of property professionals, including developers, surveyors and architects, in responding to the building needs of disabled people. It looks at the way in which pressure for accessible building design is influencing the policies and practices of property companies and professionals, with a primary focus on commercial developments in the UK. The book also provides comments on, and references to, other countries, particularly Sweden, New Zealand, and the USA.

Excerpt

The reality of the built environment for disabled people is of social, physical and attitudinal barriers which prevent their ease of mobility, movement and access. In the United Kingdom (UK), the majority of homes are not wheelchair accessible, while accessible transport is the exception rather than the rule. Pavements tend to be littered with street furniture, while most public and commercial buildings provide few design features to permit disabled people ease of access. Induction loops are rare while colour contrasts and tactile paving are poorly designed or often non-existent. In the British general election in May 1997, for instance, 75 per cent of polling offices were inaccessible to people in wheelchairs, while few had the technical aids to permit visually impaired people to mark their votes on the polling papers. Such illustrations indicate that physical barriers to disabled people's inclusion in buildings, the wider built environment and society, are considerable.

Physical barriers are compounded by social and attitudinal barriers which tend to regard disabled people as inferior and of little value. As Ellis (2000:21) notes, modern society is averse to 'risky bodies', and anxieties about the disabled and diseased body revolve around concerns to preserve independent bodies, of 'health, fitness, and youth'. Hawkesworth (2001), refers to the bounded and barriered geographies of people with facial disfigurements, or those individuals who fail to measure up to, or present, an acceptable aesthetic appearance. As Hawkesworth shows, such individuals are often regarded as 'dirty' and 'disordered' or 'abject things', objects of disdain and a danger to be distanced from society. Indeed, disabled people often feel 'out-of-place' because of social and attitudinal markers of difference, ranging from people's indifference to them, to acts of hostility and even physical violence. Not surprisingly, in combination with the physical configuration of the built environment, the socio-attitudinal nature of society is a powerful mechanism of social exclusion.

This book considers the attitudes, values and practices of property professionals, including developers, surveyors and architects, towards facilitating inclusive design, with the focus on providing for the needs of disabled people. Legislative and regulatory controls, in western countries, increasingly require development teams to provide for disabled people's building . . .

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