Society is undoubtedly constantly negotiating an ever-changing set of priorities and values in various ways, whether it’s how we behave or how we design our spaces.

This developing understanding means we’re now seeing gaps in our lives where these priorities previously lacked, and where our current values demand action.

Accessibility is a clear example of this. Our cities are full of historical buildings that are either not physically accessible to all, or are accessible via clunky ‘add-on’ facilities.

Upon reflection, we now understand that this isn’t good enough.

More than ramps

Although they’re obvious factors in ensuring physical accessibility to all, access ramps and lifts do not define true accessibility.

Holistic accessibility — that is physical and symbolic accessibility — is rooted in representation, inclusion, and welcoming groups from varied backgrounds.

Accessibility – Never An Afterthought Elizabeth Quay Min

By actually eliminating the need for separate entry and access points for varied abilities, and by creating spaces that are representative of cultural variations, design can truly be shared by all in a way that is innate and organic.

Accessibility for all, from the beginning
“[Incorporating accessibility] is no longer a discussion to have – and the solution is that people shouldn’t even notice it being managed.” — Stuart Marsland, Principal, Rothelowman

A lot of the design we see incorporates accessibility as ‘add-ons’ to original design concepts, but true accessibility is achieved when the public aren’t aware of it, and the way to ensure this is by rooting accessibility as a critical foundational design element from the moment of conceptualisation.

Accessibility – Never An Afterthought Npg Min

By creating design where people from a variety of backgrounds can interact, architects and designers are formulating a key element in the facilitation and development of cultural and societal acceptance and understanding.

Striving for equal

The future of accessibility in design uses the power of cultural understanding and interaction to create spaces where variations of abilities, age, race, gender and socioeconomics are not glossed over, but rather are understood, acknowledged and used as foundational public design principles.

Because, really, how can we share our spaces when they can’t be accessed by all?

Learn more about the role of accessibility in public design — download our report about the Future of Public Design here.