This paper reports on recent experience of engaging with building users who have communication difficulties, as a potential part of client briefing. The users were residents of a specialist Scottish Housing Association (HA) providing social housing and care services; the residents having a wide range of complex needs, predominantly learning difficulties. Many of these residents have communication difficulties, ranging from mild to very severe. The challenge presented was to effectively engage with a representative sample of residents to ascertain how they value their living environment. The researchers’ involvement was based on prior research into how different participants engage in the architectural design process.
Knowledge Transfer Projects (KTP)s are one to three year projects funded by the UK Government and other relevant research agencies and are set up between a company and a university, aiming to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and/or technology and the spread of technical and business skills to the company.
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It would obviously be impossible to use a visual-based technique such as Talking mats with those with severe visual impairment, however this issue was not a key focus on the study which was to test TM as an innovative technique for possible use by the HA with the majority of its service users/residents.
The researchers involved in the study worked under the research ethical guidance of their institutions. In addition the Housing Association had its own ethical guidance for staff and people accessing residents/service users, which were also complied with in the study.