I hope you have enjoyed the variety of posts throughout the year. Remember, all posts are housed on the website and you can find topics under the left hand menu or by doing a search. We currently have more than 800 posts for you to choose from.
Please let me know if there is a topic you would like covered, or if you have something you think is worthwhile sharing with others.
I will be back in January with the next newsletter. Meanwhile, I wish you and your friends and family a safe and happy holiday season.
Houzz online magazine has an article about a 1952 Frank Lloyd Wright home that they claim is a model of universal design. The Chicago home was actually designed specifically for a “disabled homeowner” – a wheelchair user. This kind of presentation of universal design confuses people and adds to the notion that universal design is for people with disability and not a mainstream idea. The article by Gwendolyn Purdom describes the single-storey construction, lowered doorknobs and light switches, wider doorways, drop down cabinets and sufficient turning space for a wheelchair. Pictures of work benches with nothing below are the wheelchair obvious features. Apparently the features blend seamlessly into the home. The article goes on to provide sound advice to others such as thinking about universal design from the beginning of the design. The original owners kept the home exactly the same until their death in 2012. This home has been open to the public since 2014. Several pictures illustrate the article. I doubt Frank Lloyd Wright took any of these design features into his future designs to make them mainstream. This was most likely a one-off. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the furniture too.
There is a lot of confusion about hearing loops and assistive listening devices. Although public venues should have the loop switched on at the same time as the microphone (because that’s how it works), there are some places that think it should only be switched on if someone asks for it. And then, sadly, all too often, that’s when they find it doesn’t work. The Listen Technologies blog post provides a comparison between three technologies used for assistive listening. It refers to a recent New York Times article “A Hearing Aid That Cuts Out All The Clatter” which points to the many benefits of using induction loops in theatres, places of worship and other venues. As the article points out, this is not about rights, it’s about good customer service. A useful read for anyone who wants to know more about this technology. The Clearasound website has excellent Australian resourceswritten by someone who really understands the technology from both a user and installer’s standpoint.
Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has a guide for web accessibility techniques. It is split into three parts for: Developers; Designers; and Content providers and editors. One good tip for inserting links in text is not to use “click here”, “more”, “full information” etc. They advise that each link should clearly indicate its destination or function out of the context of the text surrounding it. The information focuses on practical advice and direction for anyone involved in web development, design and writing content. Topics covered include developing accessible data tables, using colour wisely, and writing well structured content.
An accessible and inclusive sports club sometimes requires a few physical adjustments to buildings, but more than anything it needs some forward planning and continuing commitment. Access for All: Opening Doors is a guide aimed at anyone involved in running or working in a sports club. The resource covers the main areas of physical access and leads on to other information. It is published by the Centre for Accessible Environments in the UK. Other resources are available from the Centre for Accessible Environments website – free publicationssection.
The University of Toronto Magazine is about cities. It has four feature articles and accessibility is one of them. The article is a personal story of a father who asks what would a city without barriers look like? The question comes because his daughter is a wheelchair user. He lists six disabling things apart from steps and stairs. First is the issue of garbage bins littering the walkway after collection; the second is finding someone who is responsible for operating portable ramps; help buttons in the wrong place or need excessive force; broken and uneven footpaths; a loose piece of carpeting; and narrow footpaths that don’t allow people to pass. The article is written by Professor Ron Buliung, who is a transportation researcher, and that is his research question: What would a city without barriers look like? The article begins on page 24. Other articles on city living are about sustainability, having fun, and affordability.
Engineers Australia and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations are holding their next convention in Melbourne 20-22 November 2019. Call for abstractscloses 18 January 2019. The overarching theme is Engineering a Sustainable World: The Next 100 Years. The focus will be on engineering innovation, and how this can have a positive impact on our lives by creating sustainable engineering solutions. Sustainability is used in the broadest sense including ethics and social responsibility.
The three day program will feature six streams, with each aligning to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Engineers Australia is celebrating its Centenary in 2019, and this convention will highlight Australian engineering on a global scale and explore the distinctive and sustaining mindset of our profession; the notion that ‘anything is possible’. This also calls for a universal design approach to their solutions and social responsibility.
Space International Conference 2019 on Housing: 29 November – 1 December, London, UK. Call for papers close 19 August 2019. Aim: to discuss recent advances and research results in the fields of Housing as well as architecture, policy studies, education, interior architecture, city planning and urban studies, social sciences, and engineering.
Norway uses the term accessible to signify solutions specifically for people with disability when not required generally in the population. An interesting distinction by Olav Rand Bringa using his 20 years of experience working in the field of universal design. In his paper says succinctly, “The term accessibility for people with disabilities does not broadcast an understanding of qualities beyond the targeted user group”. Consequently other terms try to compensate for this. However, it is difficult to move away from this term because it is perpetuated in legal and other statutory documents. Bringa writes thoughtfully and incisively about the issues of getting language right in order to get inclusion right. An important contribution to the quest for inclusive societies. The title of the article is, Universal Design as a Technical Norm and Juridical Term – A Factor of Development or Recession? it’s open access. The picture is of the Oslo Opera House.
Abstract: Universal design was introduced as an ideological and technical concept in Norway in 1996 and was introduced in the first law in 2003. Since then universal design has replaced accessibility for people with disabilities in national policies, laws, regulations, standards, projects and everyday language. Accessibility is now used to characterize solutions made more exclusively for people with disabilities or when a high, general quality is not required. Few countries have made this extensive use of the concept of universal design and the concept has faced several challenges from lawmakers, architects, economists, user organizations, entrepreneurs and debaters. This paper reflects on some aspects of more than 20 years of extensive use of the concept of universal design and try to answer the question: Is universal design an academic invention with little extra positive impact compared to accessibility for people with disability, or does the concept defend its supposed role as a step towards a society with equal opportunities for all?
The article is from the proceedings of the UDHEIT 2018 conference held in Dublin, Ireland, an open access publication.
Integrating universal design was a priority in the redesigning of the Gateway Arch Museumin St Louis. A gently sloping plaza, architecturally integrated ramps, and engaging exhibitions. An article in the St Louis online news gives a good run-down of the features. The touchable exhibits have been a great success with everyone. The universal design concepts allow people to interact with exhibits rather than just look at them. There are other enhancements for people with disability too. The arch and the park are now easier to access by foot or bike as well. The Archinet website features a brief overview by the architects, and pictures of the museum. The timelapse video of the construction is interesting because of the landscaping of the parkland around it.