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Guidance on creating inclusive environments launched

Words: Laura Edgar
Accessibility and inclusivity

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has published a guide aimed at creating an accessible and inclusive built environment.

The Essential Principles Guide comprises six measures to guide, support and motivate built environment professionals when they are making decisions for clients, employers and society that affect the achievement of an inclusive environment.

The CIC said the guide would help people to meet professional obligations and to achieve inclusion and ensure that this is integrated into the activity of all professionals.

The guide says an inclusive environment recognises and accommodates differences in the way people use the built environment.

“It facilitates dignified, equal and intuitive use by everyone. It does not physically or socially separate, discriminate or isolate. It readily accommodates and welcomes diverse user needs – from childhood to adulthood through to old age, across all abilities and disabilities and embracing every background, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and culture.”

The guide lists six principles:

1. Contribute to building an inclusive society now and in the future. This includes gaining as much knowledge of best practice technical access standards and legislation and gaining an understanding of how disabled people, older people and families with small children experience and use all aspects of the built environment.

2. Apply professional and responsible judgement and take a leadership role. This includes making sure knowledge is up to date and being prepared to influence the decision-maker or client.

3. Apply and integrate the principles of inclusive design from the outset of a project.

4. Do more than just comply with legislation and codes. This includes driving future legislation, codes and technical standards.

5. Seek multiple views to solve accessibility and inclusivity challenges.

6. Acquire the skills, knowledge, understanding and confidence to make inclusion the norm, not the exception.

The guide is an initiative that emerged from the Built Environment Professional Education Project (BEPE), a government project being taken forward by the CIC and into the industry. CIC said the aim is to build on the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by helping to generate a shift change in how inclusive design skills are taught in the UK.

The CIC said it ultimately wants all built environment professionals to receive “mandatory, quality teaching” about inclusive design so they can help to create inclusive buildings, places and spaces for future generations.

Paul Morrell, BEPE Project board chair, said: “As we contemplate the many possible futures of the industry, a good question to ask is, what would an industry that we can be proud of look like? How would it behave? And what regard would it have for those it works for, and those who work for it? Just one answer to that question is that it would always have in its mind the whole idea of accessibility, of welcoming the greatest possible number of people, in all the many guises we come in, into our buildings and our businesses, and designing into both whatever accommodations may be necessary to make them feel at home.”

He said to do this the first thing is to care, then to know what to do, and then to just do it.

“These are challenges of attitude, academics and action, and rising to all of those challenges would be to achieve real buildability.”

Trudi Elliott, chief executive at the RTPI, said: “As members of the CIC, the RTPI is very proud to support these principles. From the RTPI Awards for Planning Excellence; the launch last year of our RTPI Trust Bursary Scheme to help the widest range of entrants to take professional planning qualifications; to the recent publication of our paper on town planning and dementia - we are doing what we can to encourage a more inclusive planning profession which actively creates and promotes accessible and inclusive places”.

Read about the RTPI's Dementia and town planning guide here.

Construction consultancy Gardiner & Theobald sponsored the guide, which can be downloaded on the CIC website.

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