Accessibility: More than an Afterthought
Stuart Finnie, Regional Principal, Design - EMEA at commercial interior design practice Unispace, comments on the UK government's National Disability Strategy.
A quarter of working adults in the UK now identify as having a disability, and there is growing recognition that accessibility is becoming an important corporate agenda.
The release of the government’s National Disability Strategy serves as testimony to new, holistic approach to accessibility that are being adopted across the United Kingdom, and takes an important step in the right direction towards improving workspaces and reducing the disability employment gap.
But not all disabilities are visible, and measures must go beyond being able to physically access buildings.
Organisations must design workspaces and maintain cultures that facilitate individual accessibility needs in the workplace. This can be done through intelligent design solutions, from accessible entries, optimising lighting for productivity and ease of working, managing noise levels and providing adaptable workstations.
Technology plays a crucial role too. 'Accessibility Tech' is big news with personalised, app-based software changing the future landscape of the workplace, while investment in accessibility hardware, such as touchless entry and speech recognition systems, are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our office spaces.
The key to success is making sure that these design considerations work in harmony with the space without looking like an afterthought.