I am currently writing a book, having been approached by a publisher. This page is to give you a heads up on what we hope to publish in 2019. The book’s working title is:
“Enabling Mind Friendly Environments”
Why the Book?
Time and time again one learns of people developing stress responses to environments… and yet have you ever wondered why the relevant knowledge seems not to be widely known amongst those who commission and design buildings? The irony is that if you talk to some people from within therapeutic / medical / teaching / social fields – one learns of knowledge that is being applied as therapeutic / medical / teaching / social interventions that could perhaps be applied with longer lasting results within the environments in which people are themselves endeavouring to function.
Although there is much on this subject one has to hunt for it! Apart from a few exceptions, there appears to have been a significant gap between the therapeutic / medical / teaching / social services world and the world of built environment design when it comes to engaging with people’s neurological needs – especially when it comes to inclusive design information that one would most reasonably expect to be accessed by designers. The books that are out there are either written with a specific neurological condition in mind or from a more philosophical frame of reference. Few, if any books it seems, take the approach that project commissioners, architects and designers have something to learn from a diverse range of people who have accentuated neurological experiences, in order that they might then commission and design environments that are more mind friendly for everyone.
I am not neuroscientists, psychologist or the like. I am quite simply a Chartered Architect and NRAC registered Access Consultant – with an unusual career path – who has identified a gap in available design information and who has sought to acquire knowledge through collaborating with different disciplines. My expertise is one of providing people centred / user experience design advice with the accreditation of the National Register of Access Consultants.
What led me to exploring this subject and the gap I saw, was my own personal experience and practical experience gained whilst working with adults with learning difficulties during the 90s:
- My personal experience was that I was late learning to speak; thought to have had a hearing impairment; had a hearing, eye and speech tests; found not to have any physical reasons for my difficulties and was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia during the early 70’s. One of the founders of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), Marion Welchman once referred to me as one of the “early boys” because I was assessed as having dyslexia whilst pioneering work in the City of Bath was emerging and very soon after the BDA was set up.
- My work experience was in the Bristol area of the UK, working as a part time and supply group worker within social services over a period of 6 years, working in over 10 different centres overall and regularly in specific centres. People I worked with had a variety of needs, including moderate to severe learning difficulties, autism, “behavioural”, profound and multiple needs.
The aim of this book is to enable greater inclusive commissioning and design practice when it comes to people’s neurological needs. The book will be written in order to enable mind focussed individuals, professionals and organisations to communicate with project commissioners, architects and designers; and then to enable everyone to incorporate mind friendly principles into every project brief – both for existing and for new environments. It will be written on the basis of the Universal Design principle that we should design inclusively and for everyone.
Although the book will included specialist environments please don’t think that this book will just be about designing for people with particularly accentuated needs and only about specialist / supportive environments only. Whilst there are specialist environments that can be designed with particular attention to specific conditions, the underlying principle of this book is to convey that it is possible to design mind friendly environments, whatever the building use and purpose is, in order that far more people can use different environments more effectively, whether they have a particular condition or not. By referring to particular experiences that people can have, this book will simply be aiming to highlight some of the issues.
This book should also provide material for those with particular neurological experiences and their support networks means of drawing the attention of decision makers to the issues and highlighting how these issues can cause other people problems as well. This is because whilst people will have different neurological needs, many of the underlying issues and design principles are sufficiently similar as a starting place for a conversation that should hopefully help decision-makers discover the wider benefits of mind friendly environments.
This book should also help human resources, customer services, equalities and facilitates managers to gain insights into the diverse user experience of the people that use any environment for which they are responsible.
I am therefore endeavouring to address 3 key target audiences in a way that these audiences might themselves be enabled to help one another:
- The most poignant audience includes those who may benefit most from the application of this knowledge, who may struggle to function in certain environments; who may wish learn of ways that they might adapt their environment, find more conducive environments and/or point decision makers towards means of addressing the issues that they face.
- The most pivotal audience includes those who may consider themselves as informed – such as those within the therapeutic / medical / teaching / social services community; who may want to influence the commissioning and design processes and yet lack the confidence and knowledge as how to do this.
- The most essential audience are those who will have the greatest impact on environments, who are commissioning a project, receiving a project brief or are going to manage an environment and who may currently be less aware of the relevance of the mind to design. These include commissioners, project managers, architects, landscape architects, designers, contractors, facilities managers and others in the supply chain.
So that readers might find greater ease in reading and digesting the contents, chapters are relatively short and compiled into the following five sections:
- Section A – Connecting Different “Worlds” will emphasise from whence insight and knowledge can be found and the importance of engagement between different parties in order to effect change.
- Section B – The Human Experience will explore aspects of the human experience, such as stress and begin to unfold the relevance of the environment, prior to the core (and following section) of the book.
- Section C – Mind in Context (the core of book) will include exploring the connection between our minds with our surroundings – drawing substantially on Sensory Integration Theory and related studies.
- Section D – Section D: Getting Serious will include look at how environments can either help or hinder how operational function, wellbeing, safeguarding, safety and emergencies are managed.
- Section E – Different Environments (the culmination of book) will focus on different environment types (external and internal) with particular attention to the principle activities of such environments and the neurological needs and anticipated benefits that should go with each environment.
For those who are interested, please register you interest in this book please either select the Follow button (second from top of right-hand of side menu), select the follow by email function (top of right-hand of side menu) or contact Steve:
- By Telephone: 07825 447709
- By Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively register your interest via the following contact form: