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BBC’s Cardiff building considers neurodiversity to produce a more inclusive workplace

Ensuring our workplaces are fully accessible is a vital necessity to maximize the inclusiveness of the space, providing a comfortable and easily understood working environment for both staff and visitor alike. To do this, we must consider how persons with a range of abilities and disabilities experience the building and try to understand the specific needs of these individuals.

When considering the inclusiveness of the workplace, sometimes the design primarily considers the needs of people with audial, visual and mobility impairments, however, persons with neurodivergent conditions (e.g. autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc) have what are referred to as a “Hidden and Invisible Disability” which, if not accounted for in the design, may feel discomfort in their work environment.

With the fit-out of the BBC Cymru Wales Broadcast Centre in Cardiff, consideration for people with neurodivergent consditions was included within the design of the workplace. Alan Bainbridge’s (director of workplace at the BBC) definition of inclusivity expanded when he worked with ID:SR Sheppard Robson and Jean Hewitt. During the design process. Alan wore a Virtual Reality (VR) headset which simulated what a person with a neurodivergent condition may experience in the workplace. This included flickering lights, blurred signage and patterned carpets appearing to move. An experience that he was only able to mange for a couple of minutes before removing the VR headset.

Following this experience, it was the goal to create a space which was sensitive to neurodiversity but would not compromise the energetic and colourful design quality or increase the cost of the project.
By maintaining an open dialogue during the design process and consulting with a range of people from different backgrounds and abilities, it was found that to increase inclusiveness, the following had to be provided;

  1. Information for visitors and staff members regarding the building before arriving,

  2. Lighting from non-flickering LED lamps and a drop in the lighting levels,

  3. Calm and quiet spaces removed from the open-plan environment for focused work.

The design of the BBC Cymru Wales Broad Centre has achieved a more inclusive workplace by thinking of its end users’ experiences and what design considerations could be made to ensure a conformable space. As this was done right through the design process, the features have been woven into the building to ensure the design has not been compromised and no additional costs incurred.

As written by Alan Bainbridge, “this intrinsic approach does not only create a fairer environment but also allows an organisation to maximise the potential of two key investments – people and property.”
For further information on the BBC Cymru Wales Broadcast Centre in Cardiff click here.

Alternatively, if you need further information on how to make facilities or services  more accessible and inclusive, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team on (01) 415 12 85 or e-mail [email protected].