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The Principles of Inclusive Design

Inclusive design aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation. It enables everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities.

  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 strong, vibrant and sustainable communities. To achieve this, you should ensure that you involve as many people as possible on the design. This will help to promote personal well-being, social cohesion and enjoyment for all.

  2. Inclusive design acknowledges diversity and difference

    Good design can be achieved only if the environment created meets as many people’s needs as possible. Everyone at some point will probably experience limited mobility – as a tourist laden with bulky luggage, a parent with young children, an older person or an individual with injuries. It is important to identify barriers to inclusion as early as possible within the design process so that good design can overcome them.

    Inclusive design celebrates the diversity of people and should not impose disabling barriers. While the needs of wheelchair users and mobility impaired people are important it is also necessary to understand the barriers experienced by people with learning difficulties, mental ill health, visual impairments and hearing impairments.

  3. Inclusive design offers choice where a single design solution cannot accommodate all users

    An inclusive environment does not attempt to meet every need. By considering people’s diversity, however, it can break down barriers and exclusion and will often achieve superior solutions that benefit everyone. Disabled people are not homogenous, of course, but considering their needs within the design process will secure benefits for everyone.

    By applying the same high design standards to meet the access requirements of all users, a design embraces everyone on equal terms. An environment should exceed minimum technical specifications and inspire users.

  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

    Making environments easy to use for everyone means considering signage, lighting, visual contrast and materials. Access to buildings isn’t simply a question of their physical layout. It also requires people having sufficient information, often before they leave their house, that makes them feel confident enough to access a building or space. Ensuring this ‘intellectual’ and ‘emotional’ access means considering signage, lighting, visual contrast and materials.

    At the beginning of the design process it is important to analyse the transport patterns to and within a development. Roads, parking, walkways, building entrances and other routes should be considered. People’s opportunity to use all elements within the site, including the inside of buildings, is crucial.