Shared Space is concept for designing the use of public spaces. A Shared Space often lacks the traditional division into carriageways, cycling lanes and sidewalks. There are also no traffic lights and zebra crossings. The design aims at having pedestrians, cyclists and motorised traffic take each other into account in an area where everyone is welcome and no one has the upper hand.
Research carried out by the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and Royal Dutch Visio showed that areas that adhere to this concept are less accessible for people with visual disabilities than conventionally designed environments. The lack of common structures, such as sidewalks and crossing areas cause orientation problems and difficulties in finding their way. Learning safe and familiar routes is more difficult for partially sighted or blind people and they feel less comfortable in using them.
The challenge for designers is to include essential elements for people with visual disabilities in the designs of space without compromising the Shared Space concept.
This is why Visio has made a Shared Space guide available with all the background information and guidelines. It provides you with the specific conditions that are set down for making an environment accessible to partially sighted or blind people.
Visio states explicitly that the final implementation of the guidelines requires knowledge beyond what this guide can offer. Simply applying the guidelines does not automatically achieve an accessible design. The individual components come into their own only when they mutually interconnect. In addition, the correct application of the points that need consideration depends highly on the local circumstances. When the provisional design is ready, it is essential to obtain specific advice and to let an expert test the total design. Visio will gladly assist you at this point via its specific provision of service - Visio Zicht op Toegankelijkheid.