Accessibility and Inclusivity In Connected Environments

One of the big benefits that we see in building smart and connected environments is that it does enable entirely new levels of accessibility for every single citizen in every single space. That’s huge. But it’s also an opportunity to talk about some wider implications.

Here’s the thing we consider a lot. The two words that get thrown around in this category are accessibility and inclusivity. But these two words do not mean the same thing. These two words actually mean completely different outlooks and paradigms on the human experience.

When you approach a design with one of either of those two words as your North Star you have already chosen a side and chosen an approach that is going to inform every decision you make. Just applying one choice of wording is going to impact the design, the communication, the understanding and the intentionality of your space.

Accessible means that an experience or an environment has been designed for all users to be able to use. That’s the line, clear and simple. If everyone can get in, get around and use a space, regardless of how difficult it may be, it is accessible. The barrier there is quite low, and it means that an approach to design that focuses in on accessibility is really just about meeting requirements and checking boxes.

This kind of design works, but it still goes some way towards alienating user groups who will understand that their needs around their mobility, their age, their language or any other demographic identifier or ability weren’t made a priority.

The better word is clear. Inclusivity is what can actually make every single user group accepted, welcomed and taken into a space in each level of engagement. Inclusive design is about literally including those needs at every stage of a design and ensuring that they are met not at a base level of requirement, but in a deeper and more personal way.

A smart environment that has been created to be inclusive is one that will offer new concepts of connectivity and personalization, data access and responsiveness that could be completely game changing. The PAM platform is designed to encourage that inclusivity at every single level of the design and creation process, through each part of the suite of software tools that we offer to teams building connected projects.

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