Tolerable and inclusive learning spaces: an evaluation of policies and specifications for physical environments that promote inclusion in Turkish Primary Schools

Erkılıç, Mualla
Inclusive education (IE), which calls for equal opportunities for students with diverse abilities in the achievement of knowledge, has been developed as a central pedagogical strategy in primary schools worldwide, including those in Turkey. Besides educators, the issue of IE becomes an important discussion area among designers who question the provision of supportive learning environments in terms of inclusion. Equal opportunity, diversity, social justice and participation are necessary parameters for a comprehensive understanding of inclusion and the evaluation of the spatial character of inclusive learning environments. The lack of clarity of ideas about inclusion leads to limited implementation of IE in Turkey. Insufficient provision of school facilities that are necessary for IE and a lack of effective and comprehensive design approaches for physical learning environments further complicate this situation. Design specifications in Turkish regulations regarding inclusive learning environments in primary schools remain too technical, as they merely focus on the issue of disability and special education rather than inclusion. This paper focuses on assessing the conformity of these regulations to universal design (UD), a recent architectural design strategy that supports the idea of inclusion in physical environments through its mission of design for all and design for equity and social justice and seeks to make physical environments accessible, usable and tolerable for all students with diverse abilities.