Research is currently underway that will enable the development of the first British Standards Institute (BSI) guidelines for designing for people who can be classed as neurodivergent: a term that encompasses a range of conditions, such as dementia, autism, dyspraxia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The guidelines are likely to cover four distinct areas: spatial characteristics, including lighting and distractions; way finding; safeguarding, such as avoiding the potential for feelings of entrapment; and design features.

Under an initiative dubbed ‘Design for the Mind’, the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art has been commissioned to carry out the research for BSI. The centre has launched an online survey in order to gather evidence on what makes an environment comfortable and/or challenging, and ideas on how the built environment can be improved for people who are neurodivergent.

Project leader Rob Turpin, Healthcare Market Development Manager at BSI, explains there are no design guidelines to date addressing conditions of the mind beyond the knowledge possessed by some highly specialised care providers.

The researchers are seeking responses from those with experience of neurodivergent conditions, particularly professionals who have worked in this area, as well as carers and family members.

BSI’s 2009 BS8300 on building access, cited in the Building Regulations, is well used and offers clear recommendations, but it deals only with physical impairment and wheelchair access.

If you would like to stay in touch and be involved in any future research related to this project, please contact:

Faith Wray or Katie Gaudion