Enhancing Transition Spaces with the Simple Wayfinding Tools (Signage, Color and Brightness) for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Presented by: Apoorva Rane, Dr. Kristi Gaines

Abstract: Current accessibility codes and architectural design guidelines include populations with physical impairments; however, provisions for people with intellectual or neurodevelopmental diversities (IDD) are not included. One in every 68 children in America is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), irrespective of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic (ADDM, 2012). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental impairment which may affect daily social interaction, communication, behavior, interests and more. Looking at the growing number of diagnosis for ASD, the architectural building codes need to consider creating an enabling environment for people with neuro diversities. This research presentation examines plausible wayfinding solutions that can be incorporated into to a universal design for individuals with neurodiversity. Public spaces may be confusing with never-ending corridors resulting in dependency, anxiety, stress and lower confidence levels for a neurodiverse population. Finding a way to a destination in the built-in environment can not only save time but provide one with motivation, a sense of satisfaction and empowerment. A meta-analysis of research was conducted that included sensory issues, learning techniques and the built educational environment for individuals with ASD. Furthermore, the educational environment was a successful design for children with ASD and more beneficial for children without ASD when further researched. Wayfinding strategies for the general population were also evaluated. The aim/objective was identifying features and tools to aids in wayfinding. This presentation illustrates ways to incorporate these features to improve wayfinding for all users. Method: The literature on physical environment for people ASD takes care of personal territorial spaces (for example home) and semi-personal territorial space (for example classrooms). Therefore, this literature review scrutinizes the available research on physical environment for people ASD and aims for widening the scope towards the public territorial spaces. Moreover, to look at a specific element of the indoor environment, the meta-analysis concentrates on gaps of wayfinding in built-in spaces and silver lining for bridging these gaps with the help of sensory design matrix. As the prevailing literature provide evidence of enabling environment for people with and without ASD, the combination of sensory matrix design and wayfinding can be further used to create public spaces for people with and without autism. This exploratory research concentrates on the use of simple tools of wayfinding like signage, color, and brightness. The presentation provide an overview of a case study analysis at a center for autism education and research. Findings and conclusion: The function of the corridor in the built space is to reach the destination space, comfortable movement towards the exits and every zone. The existing literature shows a clear overlap between the sensory design matrix and tools of wayfinding. This exercise helps to analyze the recommendations for wayfinding for people with and without ASD. A prototype was developed to incorporate wayfinding tools into an existing center for autism education and research.


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