Inclusive Infrastructure

Led by GDI, ‘Inclusive Infrastructure’ is a 3-year sub-programme, which considers the idea that equal access to AT is dependent on an enabling physical environment. Engaging stakeholders who help shape the built environment, with the inclusion and participation of AT users.

Nina and Harry, Indonesia. Credit - Angus Stewart

The aim of the research is to build evidence on the awareness, understanding, acceptance, application and experience of Inclusive Design and accessible environments globally, particularly in lower and middle-income countries by conducting research in three areas:

  1. The community experience of disability and the built environment
  2. Practice focused research on the awareness and application of inclusive design
  3. Policy-focused research on the governance, guidelines and protections of inclusive design at the highest levels

The overarching research question

‘What is the current state of inclusive and accessible environments and infrastructure in LMICs, and what is the role of inclusive design in creating an enabling environment for disabled people?’

Local and specific knowledge of environments

Globally, the terms used to discuss inclusion in the built environment vary. In the UK, inclusive design is more commonly used, but globally universal design and design for all can be more common. Inclusion agendas across international development frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals and new urban agenda are broad, and do not focus specifically on the needs and aspirations of disabled people.

The Inclusive Infrastructure team want to build local and specific knowledge of what constitutes an inclusive environment in diverse low and middle income countries, by engaging directly with community, practice, industry and policy in cities in low- resource settings to ensure insights and actions are appropriate and adaptable to diverse contexts. By conducting research on both the awareness, understanding, practice and policy of inclusive design in low-resource settings, and the experienced accessibility and inclusivity of the built environment - the team anticipates primarily benefitting Global South locations and DFID priority countries. The hope it that the research will also have benefit for the most vulnerable communities globally, including excluded and low-resourced communities in high-income settings.

Challenges around inclusive design and accessible environments in lower-and-middle-income settings include:

  • Low understanding and implementation of inclusion measures across a whole project life cycle
  • The enforcement and awareness of both regulations and good practice
  • A lack in understanding of inclusive design and engagement through all stakeholders in the built environment industry, from policy and planning to design and construction
  • A need for the voices of disabled people in these processes to be more often heard and integrated
  • International policy and frameworks for inclusion are currently not embedded, and need to be mobilised at a local level where research on the challenges and opportunities for inclusion in the built environment across diverse stakeholder groups will be valuable

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