“It is a mindset and attitude about people… a belief that all people have something to offer the design process and that they can be articulate and creative when given the appropriate tools with which to express themselves” (Elizabeth. B. N. Sanders 2002)
Participatory design can be used to engage people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) in identifying the design features that will provide them with a sense of well being, opportunities for passive/quiet spaces and participation and inclusion e.g. in a garden.
The critical factor is identifying how the person communicates and what strategies the support person must use to enable positive interactions.
Expressions of like and dislike are recorded in response to specific environmental experiences, for example, designing a garden. Like and dislike responses to experiences and features in a park are mapped over a number of site visits. Analysis of the mapping identifies design elements such as the physical environment, communication/wayfinding needs and sensory preference requirements that are then imbedded in the garden design. The design also needs to reflect the features and resources support staff will need to enable the users to participate in their garden as defined in the mapping task.
Too often designs are based on assumed preferences and needs. Often I find the design features identified through the mapping task with the users are different to those identified by those designing for the users. This mismatch helps explains why users often don’t visit places that have been designed for them. People go to places because they consider them worth visiting.
For further information contact Mandy Williams: [email protected]