Time to prototype building designs?

A man stands in a workshop with lots of tools around him. He is looking at something small in his hands.Almost all designs go through a prototype process before the final product is produced. The one thing that isn’t tested prior to final design is buildings. Bryan Boyer explores the issues in an easy to read article. He says that digital designers wouldn’t dream of taking a wild guess that their design will hit the mark for all users and ignore user testing. Building designs have an impact on people whether they are users or not. How would a user prototype work for a building? And How do we make it cheap and easy to quantitatively analyse the effect that buildings have on humans? These, and other questions are posed and discussed in this thought provoking article. While universal design isn’t specifically mentioned, it’s implied because Human Centred Design is focused on users, and not on the designer.

The title of the article is, Who Wants to Pay for a Building Twice

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Game changers for sports events?

An action shot of two women grappling for the football. One is wearing yellow, the other white.What will it take to make major sports events and associated tourism services more accessible? A new Australian study seeks the answer to this question. Researchers used the 2015 FIFA Womens World Cup event in Canada as a case study to analyse the situation and to see what needs to be done. The article is titled, “Inclusive by design: transformative services and sport-event accessibility”.  Access via Tandfonline or you can request a copy from the lead researcher Tracey Dixon on ResearchGate. You can find other posts on sport and recreation on this website

Abstract: This paper examines the service dimensions required to be inclusive of people with access needs within a major-sport event context. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities seeks to counter disability discrimination and enable citizenship rights of people with disabilities, including access to goods and services, across all dimensions of social participation including major-sport events (e.g. Olympic and Paralympic Games, world cups in football, cricket and rugby union). Providing for people with disability and access needs is also an emerging tourism focus with initiatives addressing accessible tourism included in the World Tourism Organizations mission and recent strategic destination plans. To enhance the understanding of service delivery for an accessible tourism market in a major-sport event context, a case study of the Vancouver Fan Zone for the FIFA Womens World Cup Canada, 2015 TM is analyzed through the lens of transformative services. From this analysis future research directions are identified to benefit those with access needs who wish to participate in major-sport events.

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What drivers’ can’t see on the road

A red and white circular sign with a 20 speed limit showing.Here’s a call to traffic planners. A group in the UK is calling for slower speed limits on roads to help reduce pedestrian accidents.They list all the conditions where slower speeds could make a difference and allow people to cross the road safely. Drivers can’t tell if someone has anxiety, dementia, post traumatic stress or sleep disorder. Traffic can make them feel vulnerable and fearful. People who are deaf or hard of hearing, and people with low vision are also at risk of accidents. Pregnant women, older people, and people with prosthetic legs or chronic illness might not be spotted either. Even if they are, it is unlikely to change driver behaviour or alertness. The 20’s Plenty for Us press release links their call to the disability rights agenda which requires equitable treatment for everyone. Traffic planners should therefore assume everyone is vulnerable.

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Packaging Case Study

A glass container of flour is laying on its side with the flour spilling out.Struggling to open packaging is frustrating, and for some people it is almost impossible. A new research paper describes a design framework based on user experiences. The researchers use the case of opening a packet of flour. They looked at information, instructions, size, transparency, rigidity, shape, material, handling and opening features. They recommend that all these factors be considered at an early design phase. The language is somewhat dense, but it shows the importance of considering a range of user abilities at the early design phase. Here is a section from the paper outlining the issues they considered.

“In general, the aforementioned work can be divided into packaging usability and packaging design studies. Because usability studies focus on the interaction between users and packages with little effort applied to establish connections between packaging features and usability, they have been limited in capability for identifying the responsibility of different packaging features with respect to usability problems. On the other hand, previous packaging design studies have focused on aspects of accessibility and connections established mainly between packaging features and ability to open packages. Accordingly, there is a necessity to link aspects of packaging usability to packaging features to achieve a better understanding of potential improvements in packaging design.”

The title of the article is, A Design for Affordances Framework for Product Packaging: Food Packaging Case Study in the Journal of Applied Packaging Research.  

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Good Design is for a Lifetime

A luxury free-standing two storey home with a large green space in front. There is a for sale sign on display.An article on an American home builder’s website has some good information and dispels many myths. The one about “ugly and costly” is dealt with well. While they are American designs, the principles apply elsewhere. The title of the article is,How Great Aging in Place Design Prepares you for aLlifetime. There are lots of examples on the website of kitchens and bathrooms. There is also a section titled Universal Design.

Editor’s comment: Few older people will use a wheelchair at home, but they might like to sit to do some tasks. So the idea of lower benches could be a mistake unless you know all home occupants are either of short stature or wheelchair users. All family members have to be catered for in a workplace such as the kitchen. Lower bench sections or adjustable height benches help here. A pull-out workboard in the drawer section of the cabinetry is also another way to provide a low workspace for children and others who might need it. Also, in Australia and elsewhere, few homes have the kind of space shown in the pictures to allocate to a kitchen, so designs need to be considerate of all likely kitchen users. Creativity is required. Lowering benches and not having under bench cupboards is the easy solution.

Image by Paul Brennan 

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Crash testing women

A red car has crashed into the back of a yellow car and crumpled it in the process of a crash test.Nowadays, most of us use gender-neutral language, but has the design world kept up with this philosophical change?  An article in The Guardian discusses how women are mostly left out of designs whether it’s films, science, city planning, economics or literature. In the case of crash test dummies, it seems that only man-sized dummies are used. That is, European man-sized. The article ranges across workplace accidents, stab vests, and personal protective equipment among others. The article claims that research on workplace accidents is focused on men as if that will cover everyone. There are many thought-provoking ideas that challenge the status quo. Even crash test dummies need to reflect the diversity of the population. 

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I haven’t been asked that before

part of a computer screen with black background and some words indicating coding.The answer to “Is your site accessible?” is sometimes, “I haven’t been asked that before” or “I’m not sure I understand what you  mean”. Some website managers will quote that they are WCAG2 compliant, but that doesn’t mean they know what it’s about. Some parts of the website design might be compliant, but some of the content might not be. So things like e-books, e-learning or customised apps could pose problems when it comes to accessibility for all. An article by Andreea Demirgian takes a look at these issues and more by using real examples of online chat conversations with web operators. 

A related article, Do you see what I see… Accessibility challenge – CSS! gives instructions on how to find out if the CSS of the website is a barrier to accessibilty. A bit technical but gives insights into what web design should consider. The article is by Herin Hentry of the Reserve Bank of Australia.  

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Conference on Urban Health – China

A distance view of a city across a river.A call for papers is now open for 16th International Conference on Urban Health: People Oriented Urbanisation – Transforming cities for health and well-being. It will be held 4-8 November 2019, in Xiamen, China. Abstract submissions close 19 April 2019.  The key topics are:

1.         Integrated Governance, Resilience and Health Risk Reduction
2.         Climate Change and Healthy Cities
3.         Economy, Trade, Employment and Social Inclusion
4.         Emerging Diseases, Healthcare and Public Services
5.         Urban-Rural Recoupling, Soil Security and Migration
6.         Liveable Urban Environments, Urban Planning and Design

“While urban infrastructure development and population dynamics continue to be major drivers of urbanisation, cities need to transform to achieve the ambitious goals of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). People’s health and wellbeing are at the heart of any urbanization process and calls for innovative, integrative and intelligent transformations in all sectors of the urban system.”

The venue is the Swiss Grand Xiaman Hotel with views of Gulangyu Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Conferences 2019-2020

A large room with a power point screen at the front and people sitting at tables cabaret styleATSA Independent Living Expo: Sydney on 8-9 May, Brisbane on 15-16 May, and in Canberra on 27-28 August as part of iCREATe conference. Call for abstracts closes 28 March 2019.

Australian Network on Disability Conference 14 May 2019 in Melbourne. This conference is employment related. Registrations are now open.

Liveable Cities Conference, 12-13 August 2019, Adelaide. Call for abstracts closes 26 April 2019. Key themes: Happiness, Health and Wellbeing, and Strategies, Planning and Design for People. Call for abstracts closes 26 April 2019.

ACAA Access Consultants National Conference, Theme Inclusion by Design: Equality, Diversity and the Built Environment. 14-16 August 2019, Luna Park Sydney. 

AAATE 2019: Global Challenges in Assistive Technology: Research, Policy and Practice. 17-19 August 2019, Bologna, Italy. Note that Universal Design is included in this conference. AAATE is sister organisation to Australia’s ARATA. See conference flyer for more information.

Constructing our World: People, Performance, Politics 18-20 September 2019, Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney. Joint hosts are the Institutes of Building of Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Earlybird Registrations open now.

​​International Conference on ​Transport & Health – theme: Smart Cities. Disruptive Mobility. Healthy People. 4-8 November 2019, Pullman Melbourne on the Park. Abstract submissions close 8 May 2019.

International Conference on Urban Health: People Oriented Urbanisation – Transforming cities for health and well-being. 4-8 November 2019, Xiamen, China. Abstract submissions close 19 April 2019.

World Engineers Convention – theme is Engineering a Sustainable World: The next 100 Years. 20-22 November 2019, Melbourne. Call for papers has closed.

Space International Conference 2019 on Housing: 29 November – 1 December, London, UK.  Call for papers closes 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.

Florida State University AMPS Conference: Experiential Design – Rethinking relations between people, objects and environments. 16-17 January 2020, in Tallahassee. Abstract submissions close 20 June 2019  

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Program: Design for All Week 8-12 April Brisbane

Design for All Week is hosted by Queensland University of Technology Design Lab. Check links for details and campus locations. All events are free.

Monday 8 April
2 – 5 pm Industry Engagement:  Symposium and Panel Discussion Vis-ABIITY through DesignThis symposium reflects upon the added value of Design for All (DfA) as a strategy for inclusion. It is lead by a line-up of international speakers
5 – 7 pm TouchABLE imageries exhibition opening from Belgium
Tuesday 9 April
9 am – 12 pm Education and Training: Co-design workshop with international experts on creating tactile imagery with the QUT Art Museum for the Vis-ability exhibition.
12.30 – 1.30 pm Exchange: In Focus curator and artist talk at the QUT Art Museum
Wednesday 10 April
9 am – 12 pm Education and Training: Co-design workshop with international experts on creating tactile imagery with the QUT Art Museum for the Vis-ability exhibition.
5 – 8 pm International Engagement: EIDD-DfA Europe Keynote Lecture and Design Exhibition at The Cube.
Thursday 11 April
9 am-12 pm Education and Training: Co-design workshop with international experts on creating tactile imagery with the QUT Art Museum for the Vis-ability exhibition.
Friday 12 April
6 – 8 pm Community Outreach: International Inclusive Film Screening and Moderation at The Hall (Kelvin Grove). Discussion lead by international experts
Close of the Design for All Week.

To see all the events and the details in one list, and to register, go to the Design for All Week webpage.

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