Print this page Share

The Colour, Light and Contrast Manual: Designing and Managing Inclusive Built Environments

ISBN: 978-1-4051-9504-1
240 pages
March 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
The Colour, Light and Contrast Manual: Designing and Managing Inclusive Built Environments (1405195045) cover image


Endorsed by the Society of Light and Lighting, this practical book offers comprehensive guidance on how colour, light and contrast can be incorporated within buildings to enhance their usability. The book provides state-of-the-art, clear guidance as well as a valuable information source for busy professionals involved in the design or management of new and existing environments.

The ways colour, light and contrast are used within built environments are critical in determining how people interact with the space, and how confident, safe, and secure they will feel when doing so. They also have a major influence on a person’s sense of well-being and their ability to use the environment independently and without undue effort.

Understanding how to use colour and contrast and how they are influenced by both natural and artificial lighting is vital for all those involved in the design and management of the environments and spaces we all use.

In recent years there has been a considerable amount of work undertaken to further our understanding of how colour, light and contrast affect emotion and sensory abilities, and how they can assist or hinder people in their everyday lives.

Other publications consider these issues individually but The Colour, Light and Contrast Manual: designing and managing inclusive built environments draws knowledge and information together to produce a unique, comprehensive and informative guide to how the three elements can work together to improve the design and management of environments for us all.

Supporting website at: www.wiley.com/go/brightandcook

See More

Table of Contents

About the authors.

Foreword by Helen Taylor, Chair of the RIBA Inclusive Design Committee.



Chapter 1 Colour, lighting and contrast in inclusive design.

Inclusive design.

The principles of inclusive design.

The benefi ts of adopting an inclusive design approach.

Inclusive design, legislation, regulations and British Standards.



British Standards.

Other guidance and regulations for specific environments.

The role of lighting in the creation of an inclusive, accessible environment.

The role of colour in the creation of an inclusive, accessible environment.

Chapter 2 Vision, hearing, colour and light.

How people see colour and light.

Processing information.

Visual ability.

The extent of blindness and partial sight.

Classifying visual ability.

Assessing visual acuity.

Assessing fi eld of vision.

Identifying ‘functional’ visual ability.

Vision and visual fi eld loss.

No visual fi eld loss.

Central vision fi eld loss.

Peripheral vision fi eld loss.

General vision fi eld loss.

Illustrating the effects.

Hearing ability.

Colour, lighting and hearing.

Colour, lighting and communicating.

Chapter 3 Using lighting in an inclusive, accessible environment.


Light source – natural or daylight.

Light source – artifi cial light.

Incandescent lamps.

Discharge lamps.

Metal-halide lamps.

Sodium lamps.

Light-emitting diodes.


Task lights.



Health and safety.

Healthy lighting.


Lighting for an emergency.


Types of emergency lighting.

Stand-by lighting.

Escape-route lighting.

Low-level way-guidance systems.

Emergency signage.

Lighting controls.

Exterior lighting.

Traffi c routes.

Light pollution.

Enhancing usability.

Enhancing safety.

Confi dence and security.

Lighting provision.

Designing lighting for an inclusive, accessible environment.

General lighting.

Artifi cial lighting.

Natural or daylighting.

Task lighting.

Emergency lighting.

Lighting controls.

Exterior lighting.

Chapter 4 Colour and visual contrast in an inclusive, accessible environment.

Colour and health.

Colour and mood.

Colour blindness.

Colour in the built environment.

Colour notation.

The Commission internationale de l’éclairage (CIE) colour measurement systems.

Natural Colour System.

Colour Palette System.

The Munsell Colour System.

RAL system.


Light Refl ectance Value.

Measuring LRV.

BS 8493:2008.

Specifying 'reasonable' contrast.

Gathering information.

Using differences in LRV effectively in practice.

Colour and contrast in the built environment: practical issues for larger surfaces.

Walls and ceilings.

Floor fi nishes.



Colour and contrast in the built environment: practical issues for features.




Sanitary facilities.

Sockets, switches and controls.

Obstacles and potential hazards.

Chapter 5 Case studies.

Case Study 1 – The Roundhouse, Camden.

Case Study 2 – The Arlington Arts Centre, Mary Hare, Newbury.

Case Study 3 – The Carrington Building, The University of Reading.

Chapter 6 Résumé of six relevant research projects on colour, lighting and contrast.

Project 1 Using colour and contrast to improve the built environment for visually impaired people (Project Rainbow).





Project 2 Deafness, design and communication in the built environment (Project Crystal).




Project 3 Emergency lighting and way-finding systems for visually impaired people in smoke-free and smoke-filled environments.

Phase One.




Phase Two.




Project 4 Colour and lighting design for intermodal transport environments.




Project 5 Legibility and conspicuity of emergency escape-route signage (EERS) for normally sighted and visually impaired people.




Project 6 Lighting in the homes of blind or partially sighted people.





Glossary of terms.


See More

Author Information

Keith Bright is Director of Keith Bright Consultants, an independent access consultancy.

Geoff Cook is a Reader in The School of Construction Management and Engineering at the University of Reading; runs the MSc in Inclusive Environments - Design and Management

See More


"This practical publication offers a comprehensive and clearly structured guide to designing colour, contrast and lighting, backed up by an on-line resource providing research findings and descriptions of the more detailed studies that underpin the guidance."

"It also absorbs and supersedes the reference document ‘Colour, Contrast and Perception’ referred to in the Approved Document to Part M 2004, BS8300:2009 and the draft version of the proposed ISO standard on accessibility (ISO/TC 59/SC 16), and as such should be on the shelf of every architect’s and facilities manager’s office."  - Helen Taylor RIBA FRSA, Chair, RIBA Inclusive Design Committee

See More

Related Websites / Extra

The Colour, Light and Contrast ManualVisit the companion website to access additional resources for the book.
See More

Buy Both and Save 25%!


The Colour, Light and Contrast Manual: Designing and Managing Inclusive Built Environments (US $108.00)

-and- Complete Book of Framing: An Illustrated Guide for Residential Construction, 2nd Edition (US $29.95)

Total List Price: US $137.95
Discounted Price: US $103.46 (Save: US $34.49)

Buy Both
Cannot be combined with any other offers. Learn more.

Related Titles

Back to Top