Inclusive design is often treated as a compliance or box-ticking exercise and yet accessibility and inclusivity are two of the drivers of social value, which underpins the success of any major project.
In the summer of 2020, the Major Projects Association commissioned three video interviews with the help of Aaron Matthew of Turner & Townsend to explore the issue and offer some ways forward for projects wanting to make better sense of inclusive design. This was the result.
“If I asked you whether your projects excluded people, what would you say?
Working in infrastructure it is easy to make the assumption that we are improving lives – be it increasing connectivity between places and people, enabling better access to better healthcare facilities or building flood defences that protect homes and livelihoods.
To ensure that we are making a positive difference though it is vital to listen to those that use the infrastructure in their daily lives. I was left speechless when during a focus group on a project, one of the attendees said: “I am not disabled, you have created barriers that have disabled me”. This experience really brought home to me the need to make inclusive design a much bigger priority.
My own journey around this subject has led me to do a lot of research and give more thought to the infrastructure I have been involved in. When the Major Projects Association asked me to run an event on the subject I leapt at the chance to hear from pioneers in this field, to hear their stories and inspire me with their solutions to the some of the challenges our society faces.
Unfortunately our event had to be cancelled, but if you would like to know more about this field, to think more inclusively or hear some great stories we have moved all the material online. Pick a video that suits your interests and dive in!
Emily Yates is an accessibility consultant who talked to me about the medical and social model of disability and what it means to her as a wheelchair user. She asks challenging questions of why we as Brits are so uncomfortable talking about disability and the economic benefit of designing more inclusively.
Neil Smith is your technical expert, who takes us through the standards and tools that are out there to help us design more inclusively. He talks us through his work to make major infrastructure projects such as London 2012 and HS2 more inclusive to the public
Professor Rachel Cooper OBE is a designer at heart and talks us through her career and as an inclusive designer. She speaks to us about how creativity can make spaces more inclusive and build better company branding. She tackles difficult questions on how we project manage truly inclusive projects right from the business cases.”
Aaron Matthew, Turner and Townsend