Alex Bitterman and Beth Tauke undertook a world-wide survey in 2007 in an effort to establish a universal design icon that could be used and interpreted regardless of language or culture. Australia was included in their original research. The process they used is documented in a more recent publication by Alex Bitterman arguing that this method could be applied to the development and design of places, spaces, services and products. Download Alex’s paper here.
Abstract: Data, both qualitative and quantitative, which represents the physical, cognitive and situational abilities of the global population are inconsistent and are not centrally collected by any one international source. Moreover, the definition of ‘disability’ is relative and is linked uniquely to culture. This fluidity makes difficult the standardization of a definitive definition of disability, problematic to quantify and the goal of universal design elusive. Some statistical estimates place the number of disabled persons between 20 and 60 per cent of the world population, the normalization and aggregation of disability statistics remains a low priority for most international governing bodies and this gap in knowledge impacts the ability of designers to adequately consider the needs and abilities of all users when designing places, spaces, products, services and systems. This research note puts forth one potential testing model for systems of visual communication and information-based graphics and graphic systems for a universal design identity system as well as a discussion of the results from the first use of this testing model.