Issue date: 05 November 2008
A new research project which aims to find the best ways of supporting people with disabilities who want to become or are already architects or designers will be launched at the University of the West of England on 6 November 2008.
The research project entitled, 'Supporting diversity in the architectural profession; developing a climate of success for disabled designers' has been commissioned by RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).
The research will be launched by Elaine Ostroff, a vigorous campaigner and founder of the Center for Adaptive Environments in Boston, USA and joint editor of the Universal Design handbook. She has run a similar successful project in the US entitled 'building a world fit for people'.
Sandra Manley, (Planning and Architecture Lecturer), who is leading the project says, “There are strong arguments for encouraging disabled people to become designers and for supporting architects who already have or who acquire disabilities in their working life. We all benefit from a more inclusive environment and the built environment can benefit from the skills and expertise of these architects and designers. It may also be the case that those with disabilities may have a very particular understanding of space and the quality of space which they can bring to the design process.
“The research will look at recruitment – to ensure that young people with disabilities are not put off becoming architects and those who choose this route are well supported. We also want to make sure architects with a disability, which may get more marked with age, are supported to carry on their profession. It is also essential that people who acquire a disability during their working lives are able to carry on their jobs as architects.
“Our aim is to focus on best practice in the architectural profession; the circumstances that have supported those who have been successful in this area and to raise the profile of disabled architects. We want the research to focus on what works well, rather than just on the difficulties and problems encountered by individuals.”
“We also want to ensure that designer or architects with disabilities or those working in relevant areas have the opportunity to shape the research and ensure that it addresses the most important issues, so we have invited a wide range of people to our launch event.”
The researchers aim to produce careers advice notes, web material for schools, advice notes for architectural practices, and conference articles.
Sandra Manley, Ann de Graft-Johnson and Clara Greed carried out a well publicised piece of research for RIBA in 2003 entitled “Why women leave architecture” which looked at the drop out rate of women who left the profession once they had trained.
Sandra Manley and Ann de Graft-Johnson would like to hear from architects or designers with disabilities, disabled students who are studying to become architects or anyone who feels that they would be able to contribute to the research.
Sandra can be contacted at UWE by e-mailing: Sandra.Manley@uwe.ac.uk
Ann can be contacted at Ann.DeGraft-Johnson@uwe.ac.uk
'Supporting diversity in the architectural profession; developing a climate of success for disabled designers.'
•To identify good practice in the architectural profession that facilitates equal opportunities for disabled people as entrants and practitioners in the profession
•To showcase success by exploring with successful disabled architects the conditions that facilitated their success.
•To raise the profile of disabled architects
6 November 2008
10.00 – 13.00
3Q22, Frenchay Campus, UWE, Coldharbour Lane, BS16 1QY