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Street design may exclude the neurodivergent, says report

Collecting and analysing street experiences helped identify 14 key insights into how neurodivergent people experience and think of streets

13 December 2023

 

Streets for Diversity is a collaborative research project run by the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Intelligent Mobility Design Centre and funded by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund. It aimed to bridge a gap in research about how  people experience streets, and hypothesised that our current streets and public realm may, by design, exclude those of us that are neurodivergent.

The project invited neurodivergent citizens, researchers, champions and transport experts  to participate in a range of co-design activities. These included ‘walk and talks,’  which allowed participants to travel around in urban areas and share their re?ections on their experiences in real time. The ‘walk and talks’ were supplemented by online surveys, interviews, and a co-creation workshop, which together explored the challenges and opportunities found in our urban streets.

Collecting and analysing the street experiences helped identify 14 key insights into how neurodivergent people experience and think of streets. These insights included, for example, the complexity involved with preparing to go out on the street; dealing with unpredictable situations when out; and the tools that neurodivergent people have developed to manage the sensory landscape of the street.

From the insights, the researchers were able to draw out 12 design opportunities that could help to make our streets more accessible, comfortable and joyful for neurodivergent people including improvements to the physical environment, improvements using information and communication systems, designing to support independence  on  the  street  and opportunities to connect and celebrate our di?erent minds and bodies.

The methods, insights and design opportunities were compiled into a report and an animation was created to illustrate some of the challenges experienced by neurodivergent participants discovered in the project.


The project team will be sharing findings from this project at a webinar during Neurodiversity celebration week 2024 on Tuesday 19 March, 12:30-14:00. Please register your interest here

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Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
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Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
Riverside House, Rotherham, South Yorkshire
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Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
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