University of Worcester Expert Contributes to New National Guidance on Making Public Buildings Accessible for All

Teresa Atkinson

The British Standards Institution has launched a new Publicly Accessible Specification to help guide professionals designing buildings to embed full accessibility.

Neurodivergent conditions include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and dyspraxia. Neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Parkinson’s are also covered. It is estimated that there are around 700,000 autistic people[1] and around 1.5 million have ADHD[2] in the UK and 900,000 living with dementia[3].

Teresa Atkinson, who leads University’s Association for Dementia Studies’ work on enabling environments for people affected by dementia, was invited to sit on the expert reference panel producing the new national guidance.

She said: “For a long time now building designers and planners have been responsible for ensuring that public buildings are accessible to people with physical disabilities but, until now, the needs of neurodivergent people and people with sensory and/or information processing differences have not received the same level of attention.

“This document will provide solid foundations to guide architects and designers in understanding the needs of people living with a range of neurological conditions, including dementia. Creating accessible environments will ensure we are offering the opportunity for everyone in society to have equal and unhindered access to a world which is meaningful to them.”

The new PAS 6463, Neurodiversity and the Built Environment, contains information on lighting, acoustics, décor, flooring, layout, wayfinding, familiarity, clarity, thermal comfort and odour to support the design of a sensory inclusive environment.

“It has long been recognised that attention to these features can support people with dementia, autism or other neurological conditions, to engage more comfortably with the world around them and enjoy a greater sense of wellbeing,” Teresa added.

The Publicly Accessible specification is available to download free of charge from:

The Association for Dementia Studies at the University is a designated research and education centre that works to make a substantial contribution to building evidence-based practical ways of working with people living with dementia and their families that enables them to live well.

Earlier this month, another new guide, authored by the Association’s experts, was published to help GPs to adapt their buildings for people with neurodiversity. The Designing for Everyone toolkit is aimed at GPs, practice managers, premises teams and patient groups to better understand how the design and layout of their health centre building works for people with a range of needs.