With an increasing awareness of diversity and the issues faced by those with a disability, whether physical, sensory, learning or memory related, designing for inclusivity has never been more important.
Inclusive design aims to remove barriers by incorporating choice, flexibility and practicality, making it possible for everyone to access and use a space confidently. While this has been set into law with the Equality Act 2010, creating an environment that benefits everyone, supports independence and avoids stigma simply makes sense.
Disability inclusive design
The government’s family resources survey for 2020-21 reports that the number of people who identify as having a disability is 14.6 million, that is one in five UK residents. The Equality Act defines this as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that has ‘substantial’ and ‘long term’ negative effects on their ability to do normal daily activities.
By considering inclusivity at the beginning of a project and consulting with representatives of groups that will be using the space, a flexible design that offers realistic solutions will result in a welcoming space that disabled users can navigate easily.
Convenient and clearly identified layouts that provide for wheelchairs and other mobility aids can be enhanced with durable and slip resistant flooring to facilitate independent movement. For those with visual or sensory impairment, selecting appropriate colour contrasts and light reflectance can help individuals understand and navigate their environment and so reduce confusion.
Thanks to increased living and medical standards, the population in Britain is ageing. In 2020, 18.7% of us were aged 65 or over. With age comes reduced mobility, hearing and visual impairments, all of which make it more challenging to access and use buildings and public spaces. Furthermore, 900,000 people currently have dementia, a number that is expected to rise significantly over the coming years.
A growing number of families are tackling the challenges faced by older relatives by embracing multi-generational living and are adapting their homes to offer the flexibility they need. Alternatively, older people are moving to co-living communities where their needs can be met whilst they retain an independent lifestyle for as long as possible.
Key to the success of multi-generational or co-living homes is a balance of functionality and attractive aesthetics. Biophilic design will improve wellbeing and quality of life while specifying hygienic surfaces with good slip resistance ratings will ensure safety considerations are met.
Our RIBA approved Inclusive Flooring Design CPD considers in more detail how form and function meets legislation and has been updated to reflect the latest legislation and fire safety information. This free seminar session is available to architects and designers looking to improve their knowledge on specifying flooring to meet diversity objectives.