Shared space design
The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) is the leading provider of education and training to young people and adults who are blind or partially sighted. With over 140 years of experience we have a national and international reputation for our expertise in visual impairment.
To support our vision of a world where every person with a visual impairment has true equality, RNC is now offering consultancy services to facilitate the design and development of products and environments which remove barriers to inclusion. Current projects involve advising on all aspects of the design and build of a residential university college in the Middle East to deliver a degree curriculum to students with a visual impairment.
While RNC students thrive in a supportive environment designed to anticipate many of their needs, a core part of our work is teaching the skills they will need to succeed in the wider world. Our mobility experts work with students off-campus as they learn to navigate everyday surroundings from housing estates to retail developments.
During their work the team has monitored the increase in popularity of concepts such as ‘shared space.’ They have visited many installations around the country to identify good and bad practice and develop techniques to enable people with a visual impairment to access such environments as fully and safely as possible.
We are aware that shared space designs are controversial in many communities and in many instances have been poorly designed from the viewpoint of people who are visually impaired. Poor design and implementation makes such spaces hazardous and disempowering for those who have partial or no sight, excluding them from key parts of their home towns and cities.
However, we also recognise that such environments can be empowering for other groups and can have a positive impact in areas such as traffic flow and accident prevention. While we do not advocate shared space design we understand that it offers many benefits to planners and therefore has a place in our urban fabric.
It is clear to us that while shared space will never be the best environment for people with a visual impairment, the concept is here to stay. Many of the issues with shared space could be mitigated by consideration of the needs of this audience at an early stage in the process. With thoughtful design safety and accessibility can be greatly improved, helping to ensure that shared spaces are genuinely open to all. In order to achieve this we are prepared to offer expert consultancy advice in this area.
For an initial discussion on the range of services we can offer please call 01432 376 393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.