Inclusive Design of Restrooms For Public Facilities : An ethnographic study (2009-2010) 

This research examined the needs of wheelchair users in using existing public restrooms designated as wheelchair accessible and proposes a new design based on those needs. By conducting ethnographic studies we identified current issues that users with different needs expressed to have and we used these data to propose improvement opportunities. The research provides a greater understanding of the user needs in a public barrier free restroom. Barrier free design has been viewed as design “for people with disabilities” and it allows people with disabilities to gain access. Instead of approaching the issue of disabilities as rooted in the disability itself, I also seek to argue that many of the problems disabled people face are due more to their environment than to their condition. For example someone in a wheelchair can’t enter a building not because they are in a wheelchair, but because the building does not provide a ramp.

 

A Methodological triangulation (Cohen, 2000; Denzin 2006) strategy was used for this study. I utilized a large variety of methods to collect primary data emphasizing mainly on Virtual Ethnography due to the sensitive nature of this research. In addition, primary data was collected by conducting Interviews at the DRC site from students with disabilities. Participatory Design sessions were also conducted to validate initial design concepts. The result of this research translated into a new design direction for accessible public restrooms and was presented at 2009 Southwest Conference on Disability and accepted for poster presentation at The 3rd International Conference for Universal Design in Hamamatsu 2010.

 

Interviews - 20 Participants

Virtual ethnography ( Online Forums, Video Blogs, Surveys)

Participatory Design

User Personas

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Download the research report [4.8 MB pdf]

Download Presentation [9.2 MB pdf]

Download the paper [2.9 MB pdf]