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Inclusive Design Q&A with Pat McGuigan, SDEF Director

Added on 28th October, 2016. By James Davidson.

 What does Inclusive Design mean to you?

“Inclusive Design leads to a more inclusive society and reduced social exclusion”

 How inclusive is the built environment in Scotland?

“In my lifetime there has been big improvements in accessibility in Scotland, however we are still far from calling the built environment ‘inclusive’. In particular there is a lack of investment in inclusive design for the Highlands and Islands – the bulk of investment is ploughed into the central belt.”

 What are the best examples of Inclusive Design in Scotland?

“Accessible transport has improved. There are now over 200 accessible train stations in Scotland. Northlink Ferries to Orkney and Shetland have four accessible overnight cabins. Two of the cabins are fitted with lifting equipment. Despite improvements there is still a lot of work to be done to make transport links fully inclusive”

How does Inclusive Design in Scotland compare with other countries?

“Like Scotland, there are good and bad examples of inclusive design in other countries. Scandinavia and Sweden in particular are better than us”

Why is the built environment often not inclusive?

“The landscape and infrastructure of Scotland makes accessibility challenging, particularly as the further north that you go. By being innovative we can find solutions to improve accessibility”

What can built environment professionals (e.g. planners, developers, architects) do to improve Inclusive Design in Scotland?

“There is still a lot of ignorance. Environment professionals need to improve engagement with disabled people. There are too many brand new buildings in Scotland that are not fully inclusive. Often it is the cart before the horse, and consultation with disabled groups will not take place until after a building is completed.”

Should legislation and building regulations be changed in order to improve Inclusive Design in Scotland?

“Buildings regulations in Scotland do not go far enough and as a result we have buildings that are not fully inclusive. There is no requirement for hotels in Scotland to be fully accessible. In the summer months it’s a lottery if you can find an accessible room. The Equality Act is also still not good enough. We must improve legislation in order to achieve a more inclusive society.”

At what point in education should Inclusive Design be taught?

“More needs to be done at University level to ensure that architects have a greater awareness of the challenges that are faced by disabled people in the built environment”

Do you have any final thoughts on Inclusive Design

“By promoting inclusive design through this website I hope this can result in improved accessibility in Scotland and further afield.”

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