I'DGO - Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors

Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors was a 10-year research project focused on enhancing usability of the outdoor environment for older people. It was run as a consortium involving academic, voluntary sector and industry partners. Sensory Trust was a member of the original core management group along with Housing 21 Dementia Voice, Rica (formerly Ricability) and the Homes and Communities Agency, and academic partners OPENspace - Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot Watt University, SURFACE - University of Salford and WISE - Wellbeing in Sustainable Environments, Warwick University. The project ran from 2003 and there are legacy materials - guidance, research outcomes etc - on the I'DGO legacy website.

Our main role was to contribute advice based on our research and practical application in the area of landscape preferences and needs of older people, and to help with dissemination.

The aim of the I’DGO project was to identify ways of ensuring the outdoor environment is designed inclusively, to improve the quality of life for older people. In focusing on the changing needs of older people, the consortium also addressed issues relevant to disabled people.

The project involved several complementary research strands which focused on different aspects of the environment: landscape, urban form and detailed design. The outputs aimed to provide a holistic understanding of quality of life issues and stakeholder requirements in relation to designing, managing and using the outdoor environment.

The Research Challenge

The relationship between older people and their environment is increasingly recognised as important for quality of life. Very little research has addressed engagement with the outdoor environment for older people. Designers, planners and developers are hampered by a lack of support to make good design decisions in order to improve accessibility of complex and varied outdoor environments

Key Project Outputs

  • A review of the guidance on inclusive design of outdoor environments.
  • Quality of life criteria for older people in relation to outdoor environments.
  • Methods and tools for measuring characteristics of outdoor environments and users’ perceptions of aids and barriers to accessing, using and enjoying them.
  • Appropriate, effective guidance for developers, designers and planners on the design of outdoor environments to enhance older people’s quality of life.
  • Information and guidance for community groups and residents.

Who benefits?

  • All users of outdoor environments – inclusive design benefits everyone.
  • Planners, designers, managers, developers and landowners of open space in the built environment, housing associations, community and residents’ associations.
  • Organisations and groups representing the interests of older people and disabled people.
  • Academics and other researchers studying the built and natural environment.

Dissemination Strategy

  • A web site, including an on-line discussion forum.
  • Papers in academic and professional journals.
  • Collaborators consulted throughout to ensure the output is relevant and useful, e.g. production of a guide for community groups involved in planning projects.
  • A findings summary sent to user groups.
  • A report outlining guidance and recommendations for designers and providers of outdoor environments, including planners, highways authorities, urban designers, landscape architects, access officers, and street furniture manufacturers.
  • Networks to maximise dissemination at every stage.


Inclusive design in practice - find links to information and project work

What is inclusive design? Find guidance on inclusive and accessible design

Sensory Trust publications

Outdoor access design factsheets - free guidance

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