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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Inclusive Design in India
For fans of inclusivity, I present this issue of Design for All.  It includes multiple projects which present inclusive architecture with specifically Indian sensibilities.  These include a house for a three-generation marathi family, a Sufi Centre, a school, a pilgrimage site, and a public toilet.  Many of the designs are beautifully conceived, showing how each society can solve common problems in unique ways.  These do a brilliant job of incorporating accommodations from the beginning, gracefully integrating them into the architecture instead of leaving them to stick out as eyesores.

Regrettably it also touts the "universal design" concept instead of inclusive design.  But there are examples which show why there is no such thing as universal  design.  Consider all the marvelous accommodations of multisensory input for vision-impaired users.  Textured surfaces can trip or injure mobility-impaired people, or anyone in slippery conditions.  Fragrances can trigger allergies or other breathing issues.  Sounds can disorient or distress people with sensory processing disorder.  It's not that doing any one thing is good or bad; it's that people have different needs.  In many cases, these needs are diametrically opposed, so what what helps one group harms another;  the only way to meet both is in fact to provide separate facilities, which is explicitly forbidden under "universal design" principles.  A home designed for wheelchair access should not have the same accommodations as one for Deaf or blind access, nor should only one type of "disability-friendly" space be used for everyone regardless of their actual needs.  Diversity means accepting differences, not trying to force everyone into one mode.

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