Cognition and public toilet design

It was certainly one of the most intriguing paper topic at HCII 2005 few weeks ago: Cognitive Aspects of Public Toilet Design by Jo-Anne Bichard, Julienne Hanson and Clara Greed.

This paper reports ongoing EPSRC1- sponsored research to understand how ‘away from home’ (public) toilets feature in disabled people’s participation in urban public life. After tracing the origins of accessible toilets, it will examine the technological responses currently in use in many public toilets and evaluate these designs with respect to people with cognitive disabilities. The paper concludes by pinpointing challenges that need to be resolved by designers, before the goal of ‘an inclusive public toilet of the future’ can be realized.

Here is the classical "BS8300" model: Even though the topic appears to be weird, it raised relevant question related to cognition, usage of space and affordances:

The inclusive design of an ‘away from home’ toilet superficially presents itself as a mere technological affair, where successful design can be reduced to a matter of ‘getting the specification right’. In reality, wherever the designer attempts to intervene in the design process, the inclusive design of public toilets unveils undamental social processes that not only regulate relationships between different user groups but also cross the boundary between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. As ccessible toilets become more commonplace there remains a danger that the needs of the more visible disabilities will be accommodated but that the requirements of people with a hidden disability such as impaired cognition will be overlooked, thus denying them equality of opportunity in accessing public life.

I am sure some folks will be interesting by the "Inclusive Design of Away From Home (Public) Toilets in City Centres" part. Perhaps the toilet audit tool would be relevant for them to do ratings.

Technorati Tags: ,