UD2020 Keynote speakers announced

Front entrance of Victoria Pavilion, the conference venueWe are very excited to have James Thurston join us to talk about inclusive smart cities. James is G3ict’s Vice President for Global Strategy and Development and previously worked for Microsoft on their accessibility policy. Philip Taylor will discuss the myths around ageing and work, and Paul Harpur will join us from New York via video link to take a human rights view of inclusion. 

The conference website has more information about the keynotes and concurrent speakers. 

The 4th Australian Universal Design Conference will be held 12-13 May at the new Victoria Pavilion, Melbourne Showground. 

Seasons Greetings from the Editor

Christmas banner with red and white baubles.Hello Subscribers! This will be the last newsletter for 2019. So time to say thank you to everyone who shared the posts with colleagues and on social media. This is a good way to spread the message of universal design an inclusive practice.

During the holiday period I will be compiling Summer Editions with some of the most popular and useful posts in 2019.

Next year CUDA will host UD2020 the 4th Australian Universal Design Conference in Melbourne, 12-13 May. CUDA members receive a discounted registration fee. Sponsorships are open now and range from as little as $500. We were very excited to receive so many high quality abstracts. So we are looking forward to an exciting event with lots to share! Watch out for updates.

You can support this newsletter and the work of CUDA by donating via PayPal, and/or by becoming a member. You can find out more about CUDA’s activities from the 2018-2019 Annual Report.  

Wishing everyone a safe and peaceful holiday period.

Jane Bringolf, Editor.


The feel of architecture

A bird's eye view of the main part of the State Library of Victoria showing long desks radiating out like spokes in a wheel.Some people are more sensitive to the feel of places than others, and this can have a negative impact on well-being. This is an aspect of universal design and inclusion. So, how does it feel when you walk into your local library, or hospital?  Civic buildings are becoming industrial mega-structures, and designing the feel of the building is getting lost. That’s according to Professor Alan Pert. His article in The Conversation begins a discussion about the feel of architecture in a hospital setting. Then he moves onto other civic and public buildings.

The title of the article is Build me up: how architecture can affect emotions. There are links to other interesting articles. Libraries shouldn’t be just about books, and hospitals shouldn’t totally focus on sickness. They should at the very least, make us feel welcome and comfortable, and that includes being accessible and welcoming to everyone.

The noblest architecture can sometimes do less for us than a siesta or an aspirin … Even if we could spend the rest of our lives in the Villa Rotunda or the Glass House, we would still often be in a bad mood. – Alain de BottonThe Architecture of Happiness.


Parks for Inclusion

Open parkland with St Patrick's Cathedral Melbourne in the background.When we talk of ‘inclusion’ and ‘inclusive’, have we thought of everyone? Older people and adults with disability are usually front of mind. But older people can have many different backgrounds and capabilities. Same goes for children and young people. The Parks and Recreation Report does an excellent job of covering just about everyone in terms of age, disability, cultural background, refugee status and sexual orientation. It has statistics on each of the groups which help focus the mind when it comes to designing parks and recreation facilities.

The Report is a concise document emphasising that everyone can take advantage of facilities, programs, places and spaces that make their lives and communities great. Published by the National Recreation and Park Association. 

Also, have a look at Advancing play participation for all: The challenge of addressing play diversity and inclusion in community parks and playgrounds. This is an academic article.

Abstract: Outdoor parks and playgrounds are important sites of social inclusion in many urban communities. However, these playspaces are often inaccessible and unusable for many children with disabilities. This paper presents findings from a case study of one urban municipality in Ireland. The study aimed to understand play participation in five local playgrounds by exploring the perspectives of play providers and families with diverse abilities, through the lens of universal design.

Attachment by design

A row of villa units with palm trees around.Attachment to home is a complex concept. For older people it is often interpreted as a place holding memories and providing security and peace of mind. Consequently, attachment to home is usually cited as the reason older people are not keen to move. However, it could be because there aren’t any better places to move to, and that includes retirement villages. The design of the dwelling might be more important than the “resort-style” features in the glossy sales brochures. And that comes down to the details of the design.

Residents in a retirement village were the subject of a recent study to find out what would help them become more attached to the place they might move to or live in. That is, what design features would make them feel happy. Functionality of the space turned out to be key – not the latest fashions. This excerpt from the abstract shows that:

“…having an open/semi-open layout of internal space, large windows and plenty of sunlight, accessible large closet and storage space, shared/public green space and accessible and age-friendly design of entry, bathroom and kitchen area are features most participants found to be important in raising their sense of attachment to where they live”.

While this study was not on a broad scale, it does indicate that these features, which would be attractive to any age, aren’t just needed in retirement villages. If we had mainstream homes with these features then perhaps more older people would “rightsize” to a new home.

The title of the thesis from New Zealand is, The Role of Architectural Design in Enhancing Place Attachment for Older Adults in Retirement Communities, by Masoumeh Shiran.


Homes of 2030

A woman stands holding a sheet of paper with her statement of what Home 2030 should be. A whiteboard with lots of post it notes is behind her.The Design Council in the UK ran a workshop to ask participants to think about the future and their homes. They presented a series of scenarios based on experts ideas about our living arrangements. There was a call for human contact, and for the public and private outdoor spaces and gardens by the homes. The group also wanted to see whole neighbourhoods that were “self-sufficient, sustainable and communal”. Homes would be “safe, comfortable and warm, for all the family from the cradle to the grave”. 

It is good to see that the concept of home does not end at the property boundary, but merges into the neighbourhood. It’s not clear who the participants were, how they were recruited, or what groups were represented. This is an ongoing project and it will be interesting to see if inclusive design gets a mention or whether getting older is outside the participants’ frame of reference. The title of the article is Our Home of 2030


This is Universal Design

Architectural drawings and a laptop.Making universal design standard practice is something the Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access (IDeA) has been pursuing for  almost 40 years. But there is still a way to go. To improve acceptance and application of UD, IDeA has a new research-backed assessment and certification program. It takes you through the entire process, from planning the project, through building design, and including facility operation. 

Design solutions and best practices gathered over the life of IDeA underpin the course units of a program called isUD™, or innovative solutions for Universal Design. Ed Steinfeld said, “This is the first recognition program to provide a comprehensive approach to user centered design, including attention to usability, wellness and social relations”. You can read more from the University at Buffalo Media release, which has links to more information.


Conferences and calls for papers

An external view of the venue showing level entry. 4th Australian Universal Design Conference

Early announcement of Keynote speakers: James Thurston from 3Gitc, the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs, will talk about smart cities for all. Philip Taylor will share his passion about older people and workforce issues. The conference will be held 12-13 May 2020 at Melbourne Showground’s brand new Victoria Pavilion. The theme is Thriving with Universal Design: Everyone, Everywhere, Everyday. It promises to be a great event!. Draft program available soon – lots of different topics for this conference. CUDA members receive a discount on registration.


Active Living Conference, 2-5 February 2020, Orlando Florida. Program now available. 

World Urban Forum, 8-13 February 2020, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Organised by UN-Habitat – the United Nations major conference on urban issues. Online registrations close 21 January 2020.

National Walking Summit, 10-11 March 2020, St Louis. Walking has the power to do many things- improve health, provide access, increase social engagement.

Transportation professionals conference: Joint ITE International and Southern District Annual Meeting and Exhibition, 9-12 August 2020, New Orleans. Call for abstracts closed. Program to be published soon.

International Council on Active Aging Conference, Summit & Expo. 26-29 October, 2020, Long Beach California. Theme: Aging well: the great disruptor. 


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

Active Living Conference, 2-5 February 2020, Orlando Florida. Program now available. 

World Urban Forum, 8-13 February 2020, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Organised by UN-Habitat – the United Nations major conference on urban issues. Online registrations close 21 January 2020.

Slips, Trips and Falls Conference 13-14 February 2020 Madrid. Topics include architectural design, ageing, ergonomics, footwear, and safety standards as well as falls prevention and analysing accidents. Website is in Spanish and English.

ITAC2020: Transforming Independence Through Innovative Technology, 3-4 March 2020, Brisbane. The theme emphasises the importance of assistive technology supporting service quality and independence. This is one for health professionals interested in IT developments.

National Walking Summit, 10-11 March 2020, St Louis. Walking has the power to do many things- improve health, provide access, increase social engagement.

Smart Accessibility 2020.  International Conference on Universal Accessibility and the Internet of Things and Smart Environments. 22-26 March 2020, Barcelona, Spain. Wide ranging topics: built environment, smart cities, techniques and tools, technology for independent living, digital inclusion, Internet of Things and much more. 

Designing for Inclusion CWUAAT. 10th Cambridge Workshop on Universal Access and Assistive Technology. University of Cambridge 23-25 March 2020. A cross disciplinary event with interesting and intersecting topic themes.

National Sustainability Conference, 27-28 April 2020, Brisbane. The theme is “Sustainable Solutions for a New Decade”. Now is the opportunity to see universal design and social inclusion in the sustainability agenda. Two topics relate: Good Health and Wellbeing, and Sustainable Cities and Communities. 

6th International Conference on ICT for Ageing Well and e-Health (ICT4AWE2020), Prague, Czech Republic 3-5 May 2020. Regular papers accepted until February 27 2020. Other deadlines for other types of papers. For those who study age and health-related quality of life and apply information and communication technologies for helping people stay healthier, more independent and active at work or in their community. ICT4AWE is organized in 3 major tracks:
1 – Aging well – social and human sciences perspective
2 – Ambient Intelligence and Independent living
3 – Telemedicine and e-health

From Access to Inclusion 2020; an Arts and Culture Summit 11-14 May 2020 Dublin, Ireland. Call for papers closed 12 November 2019. An international gathering of access professionals and advocates exploring how to provide seamless, person-centred experiences in arts and culture.

Not to be confused with the 4th Australian Universal Design Conference, there is another one in Finland 15-17 June 2020. This follows the four previous conferences in Scandinavia, UK and Ireland. This one will be Dipoli, Aalto University, Espoo.

International Dementia Conference 11-12 June 2020, Sydney.  Main theme: Care in the age of outrage. There are many topics including built environment. ePosters are still being accepted.

Liveable Cities Conference 22-23 June 2020, Perth Western Australia. Presentation Submissions Close 6 March 2020. Program Themes include transport and mobility, circular economy, community engagement, affordability and employment. The concept of inclusion is under the Community Engagement and Culture theme. 

M-Enabling Summit Conference 2020, 22-24 June 2020, Arlington (Washington DC). Call for Presentations closes 16 March 2020. This event is dedicated to promoting accessible and assistive technology for all. It is an annual meeting place for all who implement digital accessibility strategies or develop enabling ICT products, services for workplaces, learning environments or consumer markets.

Transportation professionals conference: Joint ITE International and Southern District Annual Meeting and Exhibition, 9-12 August 2020, New Orleans. Call for abstracts closed. Program to be published soon.

The Disability Innovation Summit will be run alongside the Tokyo Paralympic Games in August 2020. Call for papers will run between October 2019 and March 2020Priority will be given to submissions with: a passion to collaborate globally; products and ideas that are ready to go to market; or have the ability to be scaled; and tangible solutions that can impact lives around the world.

17th International Conference on Computers Helping People with Special Needs, 9-11 September, Lecco, Italy. Call for contributions for close 1 April 2020 for science track and 1 May 2020 for forum track. 

Designing Cities 2020: Boston 14-17 September 2020. Save the date. “The NACTO Designing Cities Conference brings together 900 officials, planners, and practitioners to advance the state of transportation in cities.”

International Council on Active Aging Conference, Summit & Expo. 26-29 October, 2020, Long Beach California. Theme: Aging well: the great disruptor. Call for presentations closed 10 January 2020.

National Parks and Recreation Annual Conference 27- 29 October 2020, Orlando, Florida.  Speed Session proposals accepted from 16 – 30 April 2020


Destinations for All 2021 Summit  19-21 September 2021, Miami, Florida. This follows from the one held in Belgium in 2018. Updates to follow.

Are we achieving inclusive design?

Front cover of inclusive designer book. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) asked Julie Fleck to write a book about inclusive design, which was published recently. Fleck was asked by Tourism for All whether she thought we are doing a good job with inclusive design. She said the UK has made huge progress since the 1980s when access became a town planning matter. Improved building regulation, including housing, have had a significant impact on the accessibility of the built environment.

The book also provided an opportunity for Fleck to look at what still needs to be done. She discusses the need to challenge perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. These are the factors that exclude and discriminate – often unintentionally. The book also looks at the London “Square Mile” and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has case studies and lots of pictures. The title of the book is, Are you an inclusive designer?  

Overview: Despite improvements in the last 20 years we still have a long way to go before all of our buildings, places and spaces are easy and comfortable for all of us to use. This book puts forward a powerful case for a totally new attitude towards inclusivity and accessibility. Exploring both the social and the business cases for striving for better, this book will empower architects to have more enlightened discussions with their clients about why we should be striving for better than the bare minimum, and challenging the notion that inclusive design should be thought of reductively as simply a list of “special features” to be added to a final design, or that inclusivity is only about wheelchair access. The ultimate aim of this book will be to help make inclusive design business as usual rather than something that is added on to address legislation at the end of the development process. Accessible and engaging, this book will be an invaluable resource for students as well as practicing architects, richly illustrated with case studies showing both good and bad examples of inclusive design, and celebrating inclusion. Rather than a dry manual, this book combines a powerful, thought-provoking polemic arguing for a step change in attitude, a guide for practitioners on how to have constructive conversations with clients around ID, and a learning resource for students and architects on how to adopt inclusive design and inclusive environment approaches in their work Offers an engaging challenge to widespread assumptions around what constitutes good, accessible design Provides practical advice, illustrated with case studies, for inclusive design principles The book will also act as a guide for practitioners on how to have more enlightened discussions with their clients around inclusivity

Housing: What next for an ageing Australia?

a blue glowing house icon is held in the handsIf you ask an older person if their home will suit them in their later years, they are likely to say yes. But how will they know and will they find out when it’s too late? That is the key issue when policy makers talk about ageing in place. Are we actually prepared for it? And not only are they people’s homes, they are potentially the workplaces for care service staff. 

The intersection of home design and support services is one of the factors looked at by Matthew Hutchinson from QUT. His thesis looks at a myriad of housing types including collective living and mutual support, which on the face of it, looks like group home living. Building design is mentioned in passing. The thesis proposes several ways of re-thinking the types of dwelling and dwelling arrangements that might better suit older people to age in place and receive care at home.

This is a very academic text with lots of diagrams and flow charts. Suitable for architects who are interested in housing typology and policy makers interested in ageing in place strategies. The title of the thesis is, Housing for an ageing Australia: What next?  

Abstract: Within the policy context of ageing-in-place aspirations, this thesis examines the potential nature of housing for Australia’s ageing population. By conceptualising housing and support together as an ecology and using grounded theory methodology to involve relevant stakeholders the thesis reveals both the desire and need for new urban and suburban based housing typologies arranged around collective living and mutual support. It further proposes a performance brief comprising desirable housing design principles. The thesis makes a contribution theoretically to the fields of architecture and critical gerontology.