Establishing a UD Centre in Australia

Logo for Centre for Universal Design AustraliaFrom the Ground Up: Establishing a Centre for Universal Design in Australia charts the establishment and development of CUDA. This paper was presented at the UD Conference in Ireland held at the end of 2018. Here is the abstract – the full paper is available online.

Abstract: The universal design movement arrived in Australia well before the turn of the century. A handful of individuals, often working as lone voices, are doing their best to incorporate the concepts into their everyday work and promote the concepts more widely. As is often the case elsewhere, the term “universal design” is misunderstood and confused with special and separate designs for people with disability rather than inclusion for everyone. Compliance to legislated disability access standards has created further confusion and as a consequence many myths about universal design have emerged. Such myths have held back the implementation and understanding of universal design and inclusive practice. Australian governments at all levels have shown little interest in promoting universal design principles, save for a casual mention of the term in policy documents. This is in spite of changes to disability and ageing policies promoting more autonomy and independence for individuals. When political leadership is absent, leadership often defaults to the community, or to be precise, to a handful of people with a passion for the cause. In 2013 a chance meeting of two unrelated individuals set the wheels in motion to establish a centre for universal design in Australia. This paper charts the development and progress of the organisation through volunteer effort, harnessing community support, maintaining international connections, using social media, and establishing a resource-rich website and newsletter. 

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From the Editor: Season’s Greetings

Christmas banner with red and white baubles.

Dear Members and Subscribers

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.

Jane Bringolf, Editor.

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CUDA’s Reponse to Accessible Housing Options Paper

A modern single storey home.Friday 30 November was the cut off date for submissions on the Accessible Housing Options Paper. You can download CUDA’s submission, for reference. For quick reference here is the Executive Summary of CUDA’s response:

“Australia needs housing that is fit for purpose. The preparation for a Regulatory Impact Assessment for a change to the National Construction Code provides a timely opportunity to meet our policy commitments also create housing that suits people across their lifespan. Housing is an important factor in determining our health outcomes and accessibility is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a major element.

Apart from increased size, Australian housing design has changed little in the last 50 or so years, save for fashionable cosmetic changes. Population demographics, community expectations, and the way we live our lives, have changed. Now is the time to be more inclusive in our mass market designs and consider all households – without the need for specialised design. Indeed, the inclusive, universal design approach, underpins the Livable Housing Design Guidelines – the guidelines that were developed by the housing industry.

Taking a disability-only approach as suggested in the Options Paper will discount the other beneficiaries when counting costs and benefits. In the early 2000s researchers called for a change in housing design to reflect an ageing population and our commitment to people with disability. They make the point that designing for these two groups includes convenience for many others, and that costs, if any, are minimal if considered at the outset.

The attempt to effect change through voluntary guidelines has failed. This is not surprising for an industry that relies on mandatory regulation to keep the fragmented house building system running smoothly and to maintain an industry-wide level playing field.

Finding the right terminology will be critical to finding the right outcomes. Misunderstandings about “accessibility” prevail. This term is quickly translated to “disabled design”. When improved access features are included in the NCC, it will become standard Australian Housing and no particular term will be needed. If a particular term is needed for the process of discussing change, we recommend the term “liveable” as in liveable cities. Alternatively we can jump straight to what it is, Australian housing.

The Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) has asked that the Livable Housing Australia Guidelines at Silver and Gold levels be assessed. These Guidelines are well researched and tested over eight years and are referenced in many government publications and policies. For this reason, we recommend that the Gold level form the minimum requirements for inclusion in the NCC. Many of the elements over and above Silver level are cost neutral, are easy to apply and technically substantiated.

Gold level is framed around mobility issues (mobilising, reaching, bending, grasping).  Other disabilities can be incorporated within these spatial elements.  As these elements are based on the earlier Landcom Guidelines (2008), which were costed, we suggest that these costings be sourced and if necessary, updated.

Housing lies in a complex and contested landscape. While it is important for the industry to make a profit for shareholders, it is also important that they add value to the community from which they draw that profit.” 

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Accessible Housing Options Paper: A response from ANUHD

The Australian Network for Universal Housing Design made their submission to the Australian Building Codes Board. It is a lengthy document following the Options Paper format. The document responds to these questions:

  1. What is the policy that drives the Project?
  2. Who needs accessible housing?
  3. What gets in the way of building accessible housing?
  4. How urgent is the problem?
  5. What level of access is necessary?

ANUHD takes a disability rights approach and points out the National Disability Strategy should be a driving force for change and that the Livable Housing Design Guidelines Gold level is the best way to achieve our obligations to the National Disability Strategy and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We all have a right to appropriate housing that is fit for purpose.

However, we can also take a universal design approach. The Livable Housing Design Guidelines mentioned in the Options Paper, take this approach. The Guidelines recognise that universal design features (accessible features) are just good design suited to everyone. It isn’t just about disability rights, it is also about home safety, productivity and economic gains for the community.

For more help on how to respond, see CUDA’s summary of the key points and a questionnaire with your comments that can be your submission, or part of your submission, to the Australian Building Codes Board. This is about our future homes and those of the ones we love. 

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ATSA Independent Living Expo 2019

Advertising banner for ATSA independent living expos in Sydney and BrisbaneSponsored Content. Australia’s premier assistive technology, daily living aids and equipment show will be back and bigger than ever in 2019!  One of the most comprehensive events for people with disability, older people, allied health professionals, rehabilitation providers and the public, the ATSA Independent Living Expo will take place in Sydney on 8-9 May, Brisbane on 15-16 May, and in Canberra on 27-28 August as part of iCREATe conference.

The expos are set to bring together a number of assistive technology providers and suppliers under the one roof to showcase the latest equipment and services for the disability sector. A key feature of the expo is the free conference program, which is held in rooms conveniently located next to the exhibition floor. The program provides an excellent opportunity for allied health professionals, including occupational therapists and physiotherapists, to broaden their practical and theoretical learning. Seats are expected to book out well in advance of the event.

ATSA Independent Living Expo is open to visitors of all ages, including those with a disability, older people and their families, friends, therapists and carers. For more information, visit www.atsaindependentlivingexpo.com.au.  

This post is sponsored content.

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ATSA Independent Living Expos 2019

Advertising banner for ATSA independent living expos in Sydney and BrisbaneAustralia’s premier assistive technology, daily living aids and equipment show will be back and bigger than ever in 2019!  One of the most comprehensive events for people with disability, older people, allied health professionals, rehabilitation providers and the public, the ATSA Independent Living Expo will take place in Sydney on 8-9 May, Brisbane on 15-16 May, and in Canberra on 27-28 August as part of iCREATe conference.

The expos are set to bring together a number of assistive technology providers and suppliers under the one roof to showcase the latest equipment and services for the disability sector. A key feature of the expo is the free conference program, which is held in rooms conveniently located next to the exhibition floor. The program provides an excellent opportunity for allied health professionals, including occupational therapists and physiotherapists, to broaden their practical and theoretical learning. Seats are expected to book out well in advance of the event.

ATSA Independent Living Expo is open to visitors of all ages, including those with a disability, older people and their families, friends, therapists and carers. For more information, visit www.atsaindependentlivingexpo.com.au.  

This post is sponsored content.

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Annual Report 2017-2018

The 2017-2018 Annual Report on CUDA’s activities is available for download in Word. Key points are:

  • Website views increased by more than 11,000 to 39,300, and is now averaging between 3000 to 4000 views per month.
  • Newsletter had 360 subscribers at the end of June 2017
  • Online learning course, Introduction to Universal Design attracted 171 students with 78 completing the course
  • Seven conference and seminar presentations were made 
  • Ten sector consultations/roundtables were attended 
  • Social media continues to be a efficient way to promote universal design and inclusive practice

You can also download the member announcements made at the 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference held in Brisbane 4-5 September 2018.  

The 2016-2017 Annual Report is also available for download

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CUDA News Update

Newsletter Advertising: The Board of Directors have decided that one post per newsletter can be made available for advertising. The cost is $55.00 for CUDA members and $110.00 for non-members. Advertising content should be relevant to universal design and inclusive practice.  Contact the Editor for more information by email: udaustralia@gmail.com

Membership Types: Membership is a tangible way you can support the work of CUDA. 

  • Individual Membership is $33.00 for the financial year.
  • Liftetime Individual Membership is $110.00 so that you only sign up once and no need to renew each year. 
  • Corporate Membership is $220.00 for up to ten staff. 

All members are eligible to use the CUDA logo on their digital stationery. Members also receive preferred rates for any CUDA events and learning programs. 

You can download the full Member and Supporter Update with extra detail.

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Advertising Space in this Newsletter

A red star button with "new" on it and three gold stars.The results of our recent subscriber survey indicated that it was acceptable for CUDA to accept some advertising in the newsletter. It was recognised that this is one way of helping to fund the costs of providing the newsletter and keeping the newsletter open to all.

The CUDA Board of Directors decided that one advertising post per newsletter with content relevant to universal design and inclusive practice is acceptable. The format of the advertising will be similar to other posts with one picture and a short text. Links to external websites or flyers can also be included.

The cost of advertising is $55.00 (inc GST) for CUDA members and $110.00 (inc GST) for non-members. The Editor retains discretion regarding content in terms of relevance to CUDA’s aims. Examples of content that would be considered suitable are events, products and consultancy services. Contact the Editor for more information by email: udaustralia@gmail.com

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Tried our free course yet?

Title of course: introduction to universal design, yellow and orange blurred coloured background with dark blue text.From the Editor: We are very pleased to see the number of people signing up to our free online course, Introduction to Universal Design. Regardless of your level of understanding, why not give it a go? We’ve tried to make it fun as well as informative. Let us know what you think. After all, the basis of universal design is about the users and what works and what doesn’t. We are planning new courses for 2019 – your ideas are welcome And if you’ve got part way through the course, get yourself to the end for that certificate! Jane Bringolf.

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