Inclusive Design what does it mean?
Our theme this month ‘inclusive design’ we believe is very appropriate and in line with the new standards that commenced 1 July. The Guidance and Resource book talks about inclusion and the word inclusive is used throughout.
What do we really mean by ‘inclusive design’?
Wikipedia’s definition is “Inclusive design is a design process (not restricted to interfaces or technologies) in which a product, service or environment is optimized for a specific user with specific needs”.
Do we really understand the definition? How is ‘inclusive design’ achieved other than by ensuring the furniture is appropriate?
At de Fiddes Design, we believe it is extremely important to not only design products that are inclusive but also to design spaces that assist with inclusion. This can be as simple as making changes to your space planning. How many times have you walked into an aged care facility and found all the chairs around the edge of the room, or the TV blaring and no-one interested in watching. That simply is not Inclusive design it is an example of poor design and even more importantly poor design management.
Of course, often chairs will be lined up in a row for the purpose of an activity but then the chairs should be returned to their original position, unfortunately this rarely seems to happen. The chairs-in-a-row scenario does not allow residents the ability to talk to one another and therefore can be isolating.
We are finding many facilities are getting bigger and they tend to have very large combined purpose rooms rather than a variety of smaller rooms. Smaller rooms allow residents to choose where they would like to spend their time. The current mode of space planning also tends to concentrate seating around the TV.
So whilst having a variety of spaces to choose from would be our recommendation the reality is spaces are getting fewer and larger and we need to work with this. The first thing to consider is how to break up large spaces to allow choice and ensure that it meets many needs. For example, where are seating nooks for someone to sit on their own, read the paper next to the window, sit and have a cup of tea with family or friends or sit at a higher table and work on a jigsaw? Inclusive design is all about designing spaces to allow for a number of different lifestyles, not everyone wants to watch the TV!
Space planning is such a low cost option of how you can make immediate changes. If you are having challenges with your existing spaces please get in touch and we would be more than happy to assist with creating a more inclusive environment.