Talking about happy journeys

1 Understanding movement

“…the main reason that the brain evolved was to navigate the world — to work out where you currently are, remember where you have been and decide where you are going next.”

2 Supporting intent

Supporting intent should be at the core of user centred design. Not merely in enabling journeys but supporting the breadth of human desires: to travel, to meet, to experience, to do and to make.

Entrance hall tactile map at The Keep

3 Recognising space as dynamic

Architecture is not just the building and accessibility is not just about the physical adaptions. Natural space and built environments are dynamic. They are filled with life.

Tactile map in WW1 gallery of Imperial War Museum

4 Using standards to structure journeys

Standards create trust and they provide familiarity. Standards matter as they help create equity of use. However, standards become a problem when they are reduced to a simple binary checklist of things done and undone.

5 Enabling conversations

Making places accessible, using design and standards, is now about recognising limitations. The more we realise the breadth of capacities of people, the more we accept diversity, the more the limits of design become apparent. It is not possible to meet all needs, in all places, at all times.

6 Sensory auditing

These 5 themes have led me to start been running training courses on Sensory Auditing of places. I take professionals through their own buildings to understand how place can affect people differently and how the movement through an environment is part of the individual experience that we need to map.

7 Happiness

In the end, this is all about happiness. Paul Dolan’s book Designing For Happiness shows how important intent is as part of personal happiness.

Happy journeys

The themes I have laid out are a way of framing what I think is the brilliant opportunity for accessibility now. To recognise the foundations built through standards and professional advice and then to see more can be done. We need to understand individual human intents and recognise the desire to make journeys. We need to plan for conversations about successes and failures in places that meet specifications but are still not accessible to all. Happiness is a great goal. We can explore new ways of designing and listening to enable more people to have happy journeys.



Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

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