Our first day back at university after the long Christmas break saw us looking at the accessibility of our own school. We took part in a design sprint, which in this case is a two day challenge to design a solution to the proposed problem. Our aim was to improve the way that people with disabilities navigated around the DJCAD building. Our lecturer had said that the design was to be universal and useable by all.
We were split into teams of varying year groups and courses. This was great as it allowed us to get to know people from different backgrounds and study levels. We got to make connections with people we wouldn’t usually.
First our group decided to do some role play and navigating the school in the same way someone would who had limited mobility or a visual impairment. This brought to light a great number of issues in the school. People in wheelchairs had almost no access to the school canteen and no access at all to the art shop. To get from level eight in the Matthews building to the illustration corridor in the Crawford building they would have to go outside and take 3 elevator rides. The rip would probably take around 20 minutes. Wheelchair refuge points were surrounded by stairs, Signs were often wrong and there was no braille on the floor to warn of stairs. These were a few among many issues we discovered.
We then took part in a group interview with a humanities student at Dundee University. His name was Jim and he used a wheelchair. He talked about how in building design, accessibility usually felt like an afterthought. If it was thought about it always felt sterile. Jim talked about how he felt it was embarrassing to continually have to ask for help and be refused entry from buildings cause there was no access for him or he was deemed a ‘fire safety risk’.
After considering the information we had, our group decided we would like to make an application that would help people like Jim navigate through the school. Something to ease the embarrassment of not being able to find the disabled toilets or having to stop and ask for help. We wanted our design to be universal and inclusive for all. We had realised from our insight gathering that even able bodied students struggled to find their way around campus. We couldn’t even begin to imagine how hard it would be for someone with a disability. After brainstorming our group settled on the idea of a map to help all students navigate around the school but also to ensure people with disabilities could find the facilities and routes possible for them to use.