Cities and the NDIS

A distant view of Melbourne city buildings. In the foreground is a wide footpath with trees either sideThe overall aim of the NDIS is to enable people, previously excluded from mainstream activities, to join in and participate. However, the rest of society hasn’t caught up yet and the NDIS isn’t set up to make those changes happen. That’s up to the people who are not NDIS recipients. The Conversation has an article based on research carried out by University of Melbourne and La Trobe University. The research team has produced a report, How will the NDIS change Australian Cities?  This paper sets out the research agenda on the urban policies that we need if the NDIS is to meet its aims. Housing is a key factor in this policy mix. And it is not just the built environment – services have to shape up too. The Conversation spells out the issues well. 

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Employment articles

An older man carries a briefcase and looks in the window of a commercial building. A younger blonde woman carries a large red bag and is wearing a blue suit.The Financial Times has featured several reports on employment and disability. One of the articles asks employers to give themselves a chance to find hidden talents. Written by Lord Blunkett, past Work and Pensions Secretary in the Blair Government, it shows the importance of having champions at high levels of decision making. When it comes to budgets, disability is too often seen as a cost – and a cost that can be easily deleted. Lord Blunkett was there to make sure that didn’t happen under his watch. There are several articles and reports in this series on the modern workplace and disability, including flexible attitudes, and workplace adaptations.  

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Poster says it all

Poster use visuals to convey messages about how to speak to people who are deafAction Deafness has produced some really neat posters that speak volumes for deaf people. They can be purchased as A3 sheets from Action Deafness online shop. Having these posters around can remind people about their speaking behaviours in the same way as places have safety posters.

A related article in Metro gives advice in the form of 12 tips on talking to people with hearing loss. They include speaking as you would to anyone else, but there are some don’ts in the list such as: don’t assume they know you are talking to them, and don’t waffle.  

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Google spells out accessible, inclusive, usable

A woman stands on a stage with a woman sitting behind her. She is making a presentation to an audienceIt would be good if all designers took their lead from the likes of Apple and Google: inclusion, accessibility and usabilty are about the design process. Apart from clearly explaining how these terms are linked and can be used together, Google’s half hour video also has some tips and tools for designers. It shows how three different users have the same need: a man with a mobility disability (permanent), a boy with a broken arm (temporary) and a woman with an armful of shopping (situational). Individual situations might be different but they all have the same need for accessibility. And people have the same goals they want to achieve regardless of their situation. While this instructional presentation is aimed at an audience interested in designing apps, particularly the second half of the video, the messages in the first half can be applied to other design disciplines. 

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How shall I say that?

A blackboard with words: learn, language, adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs written in chalkLanguage is more important than many people realise. As toddlers we start with nouns – naming things. Until we can name things, they cannot exist. For example, until we could say “policewoman” there could be no women in the police force. When it comes to language around disability naming is important. It is personal, which can mean there is no consensus. For example, in the UK the generic term is “disabled people”, in Australia it is “person with disability”. Each has their reason for their choice. Then there are particular disability groups that like to identify with a specific name, such as “I am autistic” or “we are autistic people”. Robin M Eames has written a thoughtful blog page on this topic and gives us plenty to think about. The bottom line is, check it out first and don’t assume about terms. As for Robin, she describes herself as “a queercrip writer/artist/activist living on Gadigal land (Sydney, Australia).” There are lots of good reference links at the end of the article. 

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A beer and a packet of chips

Large packets of chips are standing in a line on a benchA simple pleasure for most, but if you can’t open the chip pack then not so pleasurable. This is a problem for more people than you might think. An article in the Inclusive Design Toolkit Bulletin explains how a student redesigned the chip packet for easier opening. Around 10 million people have arthritis in the UK, and over 10 million chip packets are consumed each week, so student Thomas Woodburn decided to redesign the packaging considering the needs of this user group. He found that many people with arthritis use scissors to open the typical seal used in packaging. While wearing the Cambridge Simulation Gloves, Thomas experienced great difficulty trying to ‘pinch and pull’ to open chip packaging. He designed a corrugated fibreboard pack that opens with a small amount of force applied to the lid, using a mechanism for the lid that folds out three-dimensionally and enables the fingers to remain in a natural position. You can see similar articles in Issue 4 of the Bulletin. There is more good material on the Inclusive Design Toolkit site. 

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Good example of a step free transport map

Bottom right hand corner of the tube map showing the legend of all the different level of accessThis isn’t something from Transport for London, it’s from a blog site, Step Free London. It shows what can be done with transport maps when users know that attention to detail is everything. The personal experience sets it apart from other maps. An access icon can mean so many things, and this is shown in the legend of the map. For example it could be either: Full step-free access; Step-free access via ramp; Step-free access towards one direction; Out-of-station interchange; and Separate entrance for each direction, plus other combinations of partial access. The blog site has good information for map designers. It also contains all the latest information about travelling by train in London. There are similar maps available in Australia, such as City of Sydney accessibility map. The Citymetric site shows two tube maps for Paris – one for the general public and another with all the stations taken out that are not accessible. Then you see what a map really looks like to a wheelchair user or pram pusher for that matter. 

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National Disability Sports Convention

Logo for the conventionThe first National Disability Sports Conference (NDSC) will be held 17-18 July in Melbourne in conjunction with the major sports convention. It will showcase disability sport management practices and innovative solutions. The aim is to create more opportunities for people with disability to engage in sport and recreation through the development of inclusive practices. The NDSC will also examine how the sports industry is positioning itself in preparation for the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.The Australian Sports Commission identified that a lack of integrated sport and recreation programs and appropriately trained staff were some of the biggest reasons for people with disability not being able to participate. 

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14th Global Conference on Ageing, Canada

Preview of abstracts now available for this International Federation on Ageing Conference 8-10 August 2018 in Toronto. These are usually big affairs attracting people from 75 countries. Master classes and an emerging leaders forum are also included. The theme is: Towards a Decade of Healthy Ageing – From evidence to action. You can sign up for news updates on the conference website.

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Universally designed infrastructure planning

An aerial view of a new highway junction with overpasses.One of the underpinning tenets of universal design is to involve users in the design process – at the beginning. Involving citizens in early stages of design can avoid costly retrofits, but more importantly, it is more likely to give people what they want. That means they are more likely to use it. Transport planning can also be universally designed. An article in The Fifth Estate argues that to leave out citizens is asking for trouble, and it is also undemocratic. Infrastructure is a public thing regarless of  who owns it, runs it or controls it. It is about good city governance. Planners need to do three things:

  1. consult and engage citizens early in infrastructure planning
  2. improve quality and access of citizen engagement at the strategic planning stages
  3. use more sophisticated strategic planning tools and practices to improve decision-making

The original article was in The Conversation. 

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