Inclusive Design - Technical Guidance Note

This technical guidance note, created by David McKenna and the Landscape Institute in 2019, explains that inclusive design is about creating inclusive environments that ultimately makes places easier to use. While this technical guidance note is prepared for the Institute’s members, it will make very useful reading for anyone interested in design that helps make public spaces accessible, easy, less challenging and more interesting for all users.

Date added 21 July 2020
Last updated 21 July 2020

Inclusive design is about creating inclusive environments that ultimately makes places easier to use for all. As the authors explain, inclusive design should be approached as a process that runs through a project and not as just complying with guidance and legislation. The Landscape Institute, and David McKenna, have prepared this technical guidance note based on the six essential principles of Inclusive Design as set out in Construction Industry Council’s (CIC) Guide ‘Essential Principles for Built Environment Professionals’:

  1. Contribute to building an inclusive society now and in the future
  2. Apply professional and responsible judgement and take a leadership role
  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
  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.

As outlined in section 2 of this guidance, the concept of inclusive design:

“makes places easier to use for everyone... An accessible and inclusive environment is not made up of isolated buildings or locations, it starts at your front door and includes the streets and places we use every day. Any break in the chain from front door to destination can make a journey inaccessible. A good way to visualise them is:

  • imagining the journeys you, your family and friends make as part of everyday lives;
  • recognising the challenges you and they face;
  • understanding where your project sits within the context of these journeys; and
  • identifying how journeys can be improved.

These journeys will take place along streets, across roads, through spaces and they may involve entering and using buildings. Journeys that are less challenging, more interesting and have landmarks along the way are easier to navigate and tend to feel shorter, encouraging people to undertake more journeys by active travel modes therefore improving future health, well-being and, hence, mobility.

Inclusive design is not just about the ability to get between A and B. It is also about how and whether we can all use places and spaces, whether that place is a street, park, play area, nature trail, beach, footpath or the space between buildings: all need to be accessible. Good design is inclusive design and benefits everyone”.

This guidance then goes on to consider the perspectives of different place users, and how to engage place users in the design of projects. Principles are also set out concerning what constitutes “good design” for everyone. The guidance concludes with a consideration of how to incorporate inclusive deign at each stage of a project’s development. The Landscape Institute has also included details of relevant legislation that also applies to inclusive design, and offers a list of useful guidance documentation from other sources.