Stress and exclusion: principles and tools for inclusive design

The Journey Stress Calculator is one of the tools that Loughborough University is developing as part of the Accessibility and User Needs in Transport for Sustainable Urban Environments (AUNT-SUE) project. The ambitious aim of this tool is to model the psychological stress that 100 people would experience during any public transport journey. Assessing whole journey accessibility in this way has been born out of a fresh perspective on the causes of social exclusion. This paper provides an introduction to psychological stress theory and proposes two key principles. The exclusion transaction explains how individual instances of exclusion occur, whilst stressor elimination is the mechanism that reduces exclusion. The potential benefits of understanding exclusion in this way are discussed and it is suggested that the aim of inclusive design should be the elimination of stressors that associated with products and systems. Practical implementation of this approach would rely on the availability of techniques that can be easily integrated into design and policy making processes. The Journey Stress Calculator is one example of how this may be achieved, but simpler and more generally applicable tools are also proposed.