Empowering people to become inclusive in their thinking, behaviour and actions

A photograph of a team of students and professionals in a design studio. There are 6 people in the photograph, one of them is seated and the others are standing. On the table are some cardboard prototypes and a laptop.

Hackathon team members Wei, Pavan and Sree (centre) sharing with Michael (seated) and Ellie and George (left) some tactile design prototypes they developed for the inclusive wayfinding brief.

This week our Breaking down Barriers team hosted our first ‘Inclusive Way’ hackathon. Our design teams included participants with personal experience of different conditions and disabilities working with students from a range of disciplines (including Architecture, Biomedical Engineering, Construction Management, Graphic Communication and Modern Languages, Real Estate and Planning). Our teams also had input from industry professionals and our BdB team. We’re delighted to share this guest post from Ellie Baker and George Sidaoui (Applied Wayfinding) with our blog readers.

By Ellie Baker and George Sidaoui, Applied Wayfinding

As creative practitioners working on inclusivity and accessibility projects in the field of wayfinding – we were delighted to have been part of the February 2020 Inclusive Way Hackathon. The hackathon not only tackled the theme of ”inclusivity” as part of its brief. It was in itself inclusive in how it brought together tutors, students, project partners and practitioners from a range of backgrounds and disciplines around one theme, which undeniably unites us all. 

“Inclusivity” is often treated as an add-on. We educate, design, build and introduce policies – and then toward the end of every journey, pause to evaluate that we have been inclusive in our outcome. Sometimes we do not even question having been inclusive or not. Is such approach in itself inclusive? We would say, no. “Inclusivity” needs to be engrained in processes related to education, creative practice and policy-making from the outset. Efforts such as the Inclusive Way Hackathon allow for “inclusivity” to become part of the discussion, the discourse and the norm.

Having collaborated on inclusivity projects with a number of academic and non-academic institutions over the years, we have observed that not enough is being done to empower people to become inclusive in their thinking, behaviour and actions. The Inclusive Way Hackathon proved to be a much-needed empowerment tool that we endorse and hope to see grow in the future. Reading University can continue to help make our world a better place by facilitating a discussion around “inclusivity” such that every individual, in their own way, could be inclusive in their approach to daily life.

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