Paul Houghton | Access unlimited | Disability Advisor

Part M photoInclusive Design offers; Choice, Control, Independence, Dignity, Welcoming, Flexibility, Convenience, Ease, Comfort and Safety.

Inclusive design is more than just access, it’s Access, Treatment and Function!

Access is the movement of people with developments and buildings.

Treatment is the architectural design, choice of materials.

Function is the use of.

Included within Access, treatment and function should be Disability (Whether Sensory, physical, mental health, neurodiversity, learning ability and social identity.

Creating a fully accessible built environment is an unquestionably critical issue for the quality of life of many individuals and groups in society.

Clearly, education and training remain at the heart of the disability access process. A consultative, communicative and collaborative strategy led by, rather than for, disabled people seems to offer the most promising prospect for creating functional rather than dysfunctional space.

By following building regulations and British standards, you can meet Inclusive Design standards that improve accessibility for all users.

Building Regulations…

Standards for Access and Part M; The Equality Act 2010 does not include standards for access.

Approved document Part M: Access to and Use of Buildings (ODPM 2004) of The Building Regulations (ODPM 2002) is the only set of regulatory standards to address accessible design; it was updated to include the BS8300 (BSI 2009) standards.

The updated version advocates an inclusive approach to ‘design to accommodate the needs of all people’.   

Part M applies primarily to buildings but includes the approaches to them from the edge of the site, car parks and setting-down points.

Part M is a useful reference point for designers, owners and managers, even when Building Regulations do not apply.  It provides guidance on inclusive design principles and a wide range of specific issues including car parking, paths, ramps, gradients, steps, information, toilets and other facilities. However, the following points need to be considered:

  • Part M provides minimum standards and these serve as baselines only.
  • The standards are building-related and may not be appropriate for all landscape situations.
  • There may be constraints that prevent a historic designed landscape from meeting the standards, and inclusive solutions may be achieved more effectively through other means.

A copy of Approved Document Part M (2013) can be downloaded from the CLG website.

Benefits of an inclusive approach…

Developing an inclusive approach is not just about the use of outdoor sites, routes and facilities. It makes service better, involves more people as visitors and supporters, gets messages across to more people and achieves more value from the work and resources that are being invested.

The benefits of an inclusive approach:

Increase visitor satisfaction

  • Greater staff and volunteer satisfaction
  • Positive image
  • Increased return visits
  • More effective use of resources by avoiding short-term ad-hoc measures
  • New audiences
  • Expanding employment and volunteer opportunities
  • Increased income

The benefits of improving access go beyond meeting legal requirements. It is an opportunity to attract new audiences, increase the likelihood of repeat visits and improve the quality of experience for all visitors.

Access improvements benefit many people. It is estimated that one person in five is disabled (11.7 million) and that a further 18 million people would benefit from improved access to public spaces. This includes older people, families with young children and people with temporary or health-related impairments.

Access must be seen in its widest sense, including how easy it is for people to explore the landscape, enjoy it and feel comfortable. Standard solutions rarely work. Access improvements should be planned to respect the special qualities of a particular site.

The Equality Act 2010 requires a reasonable approach to improving access but the meaning of reasonable is yet to be established.

Expectations of what is reasonable are likely to evolve as inclusive approaches are more widely used and technology improves.

Meeting responsibilities under the Equality Act relies on changing practices, policies and procedures as well as making practical changes on the ground. Inclusive practices rely on the support and involvement of all staff and volunteers.


British Standard 8300…

British Standard 8300:2009: Design of Buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people provides guidance on good practice for the design of new buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people.

As a code of practice, this British Standard takes the form of guidance and recommendations.

The guidance in this standard covers a wide range of impairments and the use of the built environment by disabled people who may be residents, visitors, spectators, customers, employees, or participants in sports events, performances and conferences.

BS 8300:2009 Design of Buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people was published on the 27th February 2009, and recommends that Changing Places toilets should be provided in larger buildings and complexes,
such as:

a) major transport termini or interchanges, e.g. large railway stations and airports
b) motorway services
c) sport and leisure facilities, including large hotels
d) cultural centres, such as museums, concert halls and art galleries
e) stadia and large auditoria
f) shopping centres and shopmobility centres
g) key buildings within town centres, e.g. town halls, civic centres and main public libraries
h) educational establishments
i) health facilities, such as hospitals, health centres and community practices.

It also provides information and guidance on installing Changing Places toilets.