are home design magazines accessible?

No, not directly anyway.

But, with a little shift in focus, I think they could quite easily be more inclusive.

I tend to buy a home design/refurbishment/style magazine each month. Not always the same one, I like a bit of variety!

This month (July 2015) I decided to do a little bit of homework and grabbed a selection of them. My perception was that there wouldn’t be much mention of inclusive design or accessibility, but I’d never really scrutinized them before and thought it would be an interesting exercise to be more analytical about it. And so, I decided to read my selection (Grand Designs, Homebuilding & Renovating, House Beautiful and Living Etc) word by word from cover to cover to see how many direct (and indirect) references I could find….

My criteria was: Use of the words (or variations of): disability, accessibility, inclusive/universal/design for all, flexibility and/or any articles which made reference to future needs, varying abilities etc. So my results were….

A pretty resounding: NIL 

This mini study was obviously with a very small sample group so I could be doing a disservice to the magazines I selected, however…

IMG_3587In the 4 magazines the only time I saw the word ‘accessible‘, it was in relation to the colour blue!

I spotted the word ‘disabled’ in one article (hurrah!), but it was just one sentence about how self building was something everyone can do, and unfortunately there was no expansion of the statement to explain the benefits that self-building held for those with a disability.

No use of the word inclusive at all (that I could find).

However there were a few articles that referred to flexibility for future use (mostly in the context of growing families.  I feel a little bit of extra content could easily have extended that concept to include families or individuals with other needs).

Another article mentioned multi-generational living. It’s an area which I find really interesting from an inclusive perspective, except that in this particular article it was used in the context of the older generation not selling up, and therefore causing a stagnation of the housing market.  (I’m not really clear how multi-generation living would cause a problem in this way as, it seems to me, to be a positive way to inhabit larger homes!?) – A slightly odd take on it I felt, but at least it was mentioned!

Also an ad for a new kit home (House Beautiful) covered multi-generational living.  This was one of the 3 show homes built at the Ideal Home Show. By far my favourite as it looked to me as if it probably complies (or comes close to) Lifetime Homes standards.

However although there were no direct references to inclusion, there were lots of articles and at least one or two lovely projects featured (in each magazine) that contained many aspects relevant to inclusive design. Lots of projects with big open plan living spaces, many ‘single level homes’ (bungalows!), some 2/3 storey homes with a downstairs loo (some large enough for a shower!) and a couple that also featured a separate room that I thought might be suitable to convert to a bedroom (if needed by a family member or overnight guest that couldn’t use the stairs)!

It would have been lovely to see these inclusive aspects highlighted and celebrated in the articles. An ideal opportunity to prompt people to think about their own future needs, and to think about how they could make their home more welcoming to disabled or elderly friends or family.  Not to mention giving some inspirational examples to people who are actively seeking to make their home more accessible!

And purely from a sale’s point of view…there’s whole market out there that isn’t being catered for (e.g. this gov article about the ‘purple pound’ on the high st)!

 

 

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