Inclusive Design Guide - University of Bristol

Bristol is one of the most popular and successful universities in the UK and was ranked within the top 5% of universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2019. We provide an outstanding learning experience for our students and a positive, supportive environment for our staff. We are one of the largest employers in the region and we value the diversity of our community.

The University of Bristol has one of the largest estates in the UK higher education sector, with more than 60 listed buildings. The campus occupies four separate conservation areas. Our buildings include some of the city's most iconic (the Wills Memorial Building, Goldney House, the Victoria Rooms, Royal Fort House) as well as some of the newest and most well-equipped (the Life Sciences Building, the Nanoscience and Quantum Information Building, the soon-to-open Fry Building).

A building on one of the University of Bristol campuses

The Challenge

The University was seeking to ensure their spaces and services align with the strategic objective of being as inclusive and accessible as possible. Accessibility was to be designed in, from the outset for both refurbishments and new build capital projects. The challenge was to develop practical advice for architects, engineers and designers to support them in interpreting and implementing their accessibility objective.

The Solution

AccessAble worked with the University to develop an, ‘Inclusive Design Guide’. This was a process of listening and then identifying the key principles and commitments of the University in respect of accessibility. These were then brought together to create a practical document that could then be used by internal teams and in those commissioned by the University to deliver projects that fulfilled the accessibility objectives of the University from the outset.

The Design Guide enables the University a process to scrutinise designs and avoid potentially costly mistakes by designing accessibility in from the beginning.


"The University of Bristol commissioned research to inform our development programmes and their constituent projects to ensure that the spaces and services provided align with the strategic objective of being as inclusive and accessible as possible. The research objective was to ensure that accessibility needs are designed in, from the outset, to the refurbishments and new build capital projects taking place at Bristol. The research identified three key themes of Consultation, Inclusive Design and Physical Access.

We recognised that translating these themes into practical advice to architects, engineers and designers required the help of an organisation that provides independent impartial advice to the community on the accessibility of the existing estate. Fortunately, we already had a partnership with Access Able. Together with Access Able we have gathered together the minimal requirements we expect of design, and set a clear principle that it is our duty to ensure the access enjoyed by disabled students and staff is approximate to that enjoyed by the rest of the student body.

The principle reminds us that putting people at the heart of our design, ensures we will enjoy quality space and places that will continue to be relevant.

Access Able use their trained surveyors to visit our campus buildings and they provide access information to the wider community. They understand that everyone's accessibility needs are different, and they share our belief of the importance of inclusive design to the community."

Barra Mac Ruairí RIBA MRTPI FRSA

Chief Property Officer - University of Bristol