Designing Schools for Children with Impairments

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  • Title: Designing Schools for Children with Impairments: The Powers of Architecture
  • Author(s): Jacqueline McIntosh, Bruno Marques , Joelle Lim
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Design Principles & Practices
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Design in Society
  • Keywords: Children with Impairments, School Participation, Impairments, School Design, Play
  • Volume: 13
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2325-1328 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2325-1360 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: McIntosh, Jacqueline, Bruno Marques, and Joelle Lim. 2019. "Designing Schools for Children with Impairments: The Powers of Architecture." The International Journal of Design in Society 13 (3): 17-29. doi:10.18848/2325-1328/CGP/v13i03/17-29.
  • Extent: 13 pages


Education is an important foundation of society yet children with impairments have limited opportunities for participation in school activities. There is a lack of functionality in the design of school spaces and outdoor play areas for children with impairments, arguably as there are insufficient performance guidelines that target the body condition of children with impairments. Architectural barriers that prevent a child’s participation in school can decrease their quality of life, often resulting in the further deterioration of their health. This research explores existing knowledge across disciplines aimed at promoting and facilitating impaired children’s physical and mental resilience and well-being in a school environment. The research method involves systematic evaluation of the current school design knowledge surrounding the creation of learning environments that target children with impairments and proposes a set of performance-based design criteria. It finds that there is a lack of health research examining the usefulness of classroom and play spaces for children with impairments, which prohibit an ideal learning environment for children with multiple impairments. In addition, it finds a demand for greater integration of outdoor play with education, which in turn can make participation within schools more enjoyable.