Inclusive Environments Home
Research Group for Inclusive Environments

About Inclusive Environments


- New Publication by Dr Geoff Cook - Visual Characteristics – The Need for Surfaces to Contrast Visually"
- New biographies section added for Msc graduates, to view click on the biographies page.
- New Project Posting
- Awarded by the ODPM entitled; BOI Part M5 Housing - Collection of Data on New Build Properties Contract reference: CI-71-7-12, BD 2493.
Colour Contrast and Perception publication now available for purchase
- Lindsay O'Neil Leaving Do

- Retirement Prof. Keith Bright
- Revised MSc Inclusive Environments
- Sign Research News
- MSc Reading Lists Available
- IE Website Relaunch
- Inclusive Transport Environments - On line Questionnaire
- Directions to an inclusive environment
- Are you sitting comfortably?
- Graduates in Inclusive Environments
- New Guidance on the DDA
- Two CD-ROM’s now available


Visual Characteristics – The Need for Surfaces to Contrast Visually

In the Building Regulations 2001, Approved Document in [AD(M)] has provisions for visual contrast between:

• Ironmongery and door faces
• Some door edges and door faces – where doors are not self closing or where they are held fully open
• Door faces and/or frames and walls
• Handrails and walls
• Sanitary fittings and rails and walls
• Floors and walls

The definition of “contrast visually” as mentioned in AD(M) is given as a difference in light reflectance value (LRV) between the two surfaces of greater than 30 points.

This is a reference to a method of definition that was first used in the public transport industry where the term used is 30 percent and is based on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 = black and therefore represents total light absorption, and white = 100 and therefore total light reflection.

The method of calculating visual contrast is shown in the Appendix section of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Accessibility guidelines, Section A4.30:
Visual Contrast = [(B1 – B2)/B1] x 100

Where B1 = LRV of the lighter area and B2 = LRV of the darker area.

Because of practical influences in any application, both white and black are never absolute; thus B1 never equals 100 and B2 is always greater than 0.

Measuring LRV’s is best performed using specialist sphere type spectrophotometer equipment which has been designed for the task. This equipment can accurately measure the LRV of flat and curved items and both matt and specular finishes can be measured.

There appears to be no alternative simple or manual way of making this evaluation at this time. Although the use of a handheld colorimeter and a white, high reflectance standard surface, can give useful LRV measurements. The LRV’s measured in this way are dependant on the ambient lighting and this should be quoted in relation to any measurements taken.

The light reflectance values of surfaces can be approximated by reference to swatches of colour samples. In many cases the LRV of the colour samples can be obtained from the manufacturer who produced the colour swatches.

It must be noted that the LRV as described here assumes the measurements have been made by a specialist sphere spectrophotometer. Since the LRV of a surface is dependant on the nature of the light falling on the surface, it is essential that the spectrophotometer measurements are carried out using a light source identical to that which will be used in the real applications.

The booklet Colour, Contrast & Perception, Design Guidance for Internal Built Environments produced by The Research Group for Inclusive Environments, gives additional design guidance concerning the use of colour and contrast to provide inclusive environments.

Dr Geoff Cook
Reader in Inclusive Environmental Engineering

BOI Part M5 Housing - Collection of Data on New Built Properties: Contract reference: CI-71-7-12, BD 2493.

Recently awarded research contract awarded by the ODPM, A preliminary report concerning amendments to the building regulations as they relate to housing. To start on the 24th January, for further details contact: or phone 0118 3786206

Revised MSc Inclusive Environments

The newly updated and exciting MSc and CPD modules were successfully launched in October 2003. Revised to take into account the latest legislative, design, research and technological trends, our multi-disciplinary programme will place you at the cutting edge of the latest developments in the field.

The MSc is a unique part-time multi-professional Executive Programme, which may be studied individually as part of your personal & career development (CPD) or accumulated to achieve a qualification at Certificate, PG Diploma or Master’s level.

You can view a .pdf of the new programme here

Back to contents

Sign Research News

The Research Group is just entering the testing phase for the "Legibility and Conspicuity of Emergency Escape Route Signs" project. We are looking at a range of different types escape route signage and trying to find out which are the easiest for people to read and which have the most ‘attention grabbing’ properties. The range will include signage using different technologies and we are also going to investigate the signs under different lighting conditions. We are going to do this for both people with normal vision and those with visual impairments. From the results we aim to produce design guidance on emergency escape signage. For more information on this project go to the project web page.

We are looking for both normally sighted and visually impaired people to participant in this project. If you are interested in participating please contact us on 0118 378 6206 or email

Back to contents

IE Website Relaunch

The Inclusive Enviroments website has been relaunched with improved design and navigation.

Back to contents

Inclusive Transport Environments - On line Questionnaire

The Research Group for Inclusive Environments have developed an on-line questionnaire as part the Inclusive Transport Environments research project. The main aim of this project is to investigate the current use of lighting and colour in transport systems in the UK, and to produce colour and lighting design guidance that will assist visually impaired passengers when using these environments.

The purpose of the questionnaire is to find out more about visually impaired people's experiences of using transport environments with particular reference to colour and lighting design.

Back to contents

Directions to an inclusive environment

On the 1st of October 2002 the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) launched a comprehensive ‘knowledge map’ of access guidance. Available free on the DPTAC web site the ‘knowledge map’ will be of particular interest to busy professionals, users, organisations representing disabled people, building owners/managers and government bodies.

The Research Group for Inclusive Environments (RGIE), working for DPTAC, carried out this major project assimilating over 400 sources of information on access issues and reviewing the scope and relevance of each one. In welcoming the launch, DPTAC Chair Jane Wilmot OBE said:

“DPTAC is committed to bringing about an inclusive environment, ensuring transport, buildings and the spaces between them are easy to reach, use and understand in safety and comfort. The knowledge map puts information at the fingertips of practitioners to help them deliver this goal.”

Professor Keith Bright, who led the research team at The University of Reading said;

“Creating the ‘knowledge map’ presented an excellent opportunity to review published guidance in the area of inclusive environments and access for disabled people. Practitioners now have a unique, one stop shop of access advice and information”

Click here to try out the Knowledge Map

Back to contents

Are you sitting comfortably?

Congratulations to ITAAL (Is There An Accessible Loo?) in publishing the first wide-ranging list of locations and facilities of accessible toilet provision – The ITAAL Directory of Accessible Loos in England, together with The Essential Companion - A summary of the problems faced by disabled people and the issues in providing truly accessible toilets.  ITAAL objectives are to improve the provision of accessible loos for disabled people and increase awareness of their personal care needs. ITAAL welcomes the assistance and involvement of individuals and organisations wishing to support its work. For more information the latest ITAAL Newsletter “Privy Counsel” is available here in pdf format. You can contact ITAAL at 10 Stilecroft Gardens, North Wembley, HAO 3HE or via Email:

Orders for The Directory and Companion (£10 for both plus £4.50 towards post & package) should be sent to ITAAL, c/o Equal Ability, 170 Benton Hill, Wakefield Road, Horbury, W Yorks, WF4 5HW

Back to contents

Graduates in Inclusive Environments

On the 5th July 2003, the Research Group celebrated its third ceremony for new graduates of the MSc Inclusive Environments: design and management. Five graduates, Lynch Mason, Laura Selbekk, Rolf Lamsdale, Kate Nepstad and Báirbre McKendrick joined the six previous recipients, including Janet Parker who graduated in December, to be amongst the first professionals in the country to have achieved a qualification at Masters level in this field. Laura Selbekk received the RNIB Prize for the ‘Best Student Performance Overall’ and Báirbre McKendrick received the Department of Transport - Mobility and inclusion Unit Prize for ‘The dissertation with the most potential to affect the quality of life of disabled and non disabled people’.
Well done to them all for all their hard work and we wish them all success in their future careers.

The Inclusive Environments programme gives an up to date understanding of the wide range of technical and human issues involved in the need for developing inclusive accessible environments. This programme enables professionals to gain the knowledge and confidence required to challenge poor design and management procedures and to influence the development of inclusive environments.

Back to contents

New Guidance on the DDA

The Workplacelaw Network has published the new Special Report - "Disability: Making Buildings Accessible" - which is aimed at helping employers, building managers and owners meet the access requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) before the 2004 deadline.

The Special Report is edited by Keith Bright, Director of the Research Group for Inclusive Environments. The guidance has been prepared by a series of authors selected for their knowledge and experience. Contributors include the Disability Rights Commission, Eversheds solicitors, and the Centre for Accessible Environments.

Copies of "Disability: Making Buildings Accessible" (priced £99.00) can be ordered from the Workplacelaw Network – Tel. 0870 777 8881, Fax. 0870 777 8882. Please quote website order reference number 321171926.

Back to contents

Two CD-ROM’s now available

Two CD-ROM’s based on the research findings of research projects carried out by the Group are now available:

“Colour and Contrast - A design guide for the use of colour and contrast to improve built environments for visually impaired people”, a design tool based on the findings from Project Rainbow is available FREE from ICI Paints, Call 0870 242 1100 for a copy.

“Inclusive Buildings – design and management of accessible environments” – based on the findings of the ARIADNE project this CD-ROM gives guidance on meeting the requirements of the DDA in a range of environments and demonstrates, using a ‘walk-through’ of real buildings, how to undertake an Access Audit. The CD costs £85 is available on line from Blackwell Science.

Back to contents