Designing accessible spaces

Character in a wheelchair sits on top of a ramp

Designing accessible places and spaces can help you deliver a range of subjects in school, including; human and physical geography, maths, language, sociology, citizenship, art, design and technology. Once you start planning a design project you will find more curriculum links.

Questions to ask

When designing a space for accessibility questions to explore include:

  1. What is the space used for?
  2. Which areas of the location are most accessible? Why?
  3. Which areas of the location least accessible? Why?
  4. Who uses or visits the space now?
  5. What are the needs of the users?
  6. Who might want to use or visit it but cannot?
  7. What are the limitations or opportunities of the physical space?
  8. What would make this space more accessible?
  9. Why do you think accessibility features were included?
  10. Why do you think accessibility features were not included?

The above questions offer the opportunity to discuss issues around planning and design, resources and costs, how the physical environment dictates design, attitudes towards disabilities, population demographics and much more.

A blue character in a wheelchair is at the bottom of a staircase that has an arrow indicating up. He has question marks around his head showing he is confused.

Discuss; Why is there a ramp for a wheelchair but no quiet space for someone with sensory issues? Why do you think this would be?

Activity 3

The above questions and conversations start the students thinking about design of accessible spaces. You can take this a step further by inviting pupils to design a more accessible school, library or park.

Ask: If you could redesign the school to make it more accessible what would you include?

Activity 4

You can extend students’ design and technology skills to address solutions to specific accessibility challenges.

You could challenge your students to:

  • find ways of reducing echoes in a large room
  • to rearrange a room to make it more accessible for a wheelchair
  • investigate the gradient on wheelchair ramps.

Their investigations could involve experimenting with a range of materials, using computers or toys for modelling, .

Image shows two playmobil toy figures in wheelchairs. They are at the top of slopes made out of lego. One is higher than the other.
A computer generated image of a person in a wheelchair about to go up a slope.
You can use computers and toys to run experiments on ramps: here you can measure variables such as gradient, width, height and velocity!
three photographs showing 1. foam sound proofing 2. cardboard egg trays 3. coloured fabric hanging downwards
Students can explore different materials like these sound proofing options above. Here we show professional sound proofing foam, egg boxes (which make excellent sound proofing) and fabric (curtains and carpets can help reduce echoes). Encourage students to find solutions that are easy to find, easy to install and affordable.

What other activities can you think of? Let us know here at: Members Chat/Forums – We Can Access Academy

We would love to see your experiments and work so we can share it with others. Please share pictures with us on:

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