Prioritising inclusive design features

When money becomes a barrier to designing inclusively, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. From Qatar comes a paper which describes assessment criteria for prioritising inclusive design features. The research study assumed that designers were responsible for coming up with the right solutions rather than including users in the process.

The authors used a higher education context for their study. Educational environments lack adequate furniture in classes, auditoriums, libraries and eating areas.

Image of Qatar University showing the passive ventilation and cooling chimneys.

Aerial view of Qatar University showing the rows of thermal chimneys for passive ventilation and cooling.

For building upgrades, the authors concluded the need to prioritise criteria where the buildings were either partially or fully inadequate for physical access. The highest ranked criteria were, external access route, design and surface of exterior ramps and operation of entrance doors. These criteria indicate that people with limited mobility were the only consideration.

The participants in the study were access practitioners and experts within the facilities management team. It would be interesting to see if students with disability agreed with the proposed ranking of criteria. They would likely agree that getting into the building is the most important, but is that enough?

The title of the article is, Criteria and Challenges of Inclusive Design in the Built Environment. There is little new knowledge in this paper for universal design practitioners as many have moved on to embrace co-design processes. However, it is interesting to see a different perspective on the issues when funding is a barrier.

From the abstract

Ensuring an inclusive environment is the responsibility of architects, planners, engineers and facility managers. It is essential to ensure that buildings’ design and operation align with inclusive principles through regular assessments.

Many comprehensive assessment tools exist and are used in the industry. Decision-makers should be able to prioritise inclusive design criteria when issues such as funding arise.

This study aims to identify prioritized accessibility assessment criteria for people with disability in higher education facilities through the lens of experts. A targeted sampling methodology was adopted for the semi-structured interviews.

This study aimed to identify the accessibility assessment criteria in higher education facilities. The lens of experts provided justification for selecting the highest and lowest priorities.

The findings resulted in a list of highest and lowest criteria, and criteria with significant differences. Justifications for selections, and a close-up look into the influence of experts’ experience on the rankings was also part of the study.

This paper provides insight into significant inclusive design criteria for improved facility management decision-making processes and the strategy for managing the challenges of inclusive design in new and existing facilities.

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