Welcome to the Universal Design Australia website

The aim of universalising design is to create a more inclusive world. Universal Design, as an endeavour in its own right, is being used internationally as a vehicle for bringing about wholesale change in design thinking throughout the design process so that all people are considered regardless of age, capability, or background.

Universal design is a design concept not a design product. The principles of universal design can be applied to concrete things like products, buildings and open spaces, to intellectual activities such as designing learning programs, and to conceptual things such as policies and practices.UD Australia logo


From the Editor

Distance view of Tashkent Airport showing people lifting their luggage up the steps to the entranceI am back from my travels along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan and Western China. Uzbekistan is no longer under Soviet rule and is re-emerging as a vibrant country with a rich culture. Tourism is a key factor and new infrastructure for roads and very fast rail was a surprise. New airports, train stations, and hotels abound. I could see some attempts at accessibility, but nothing was joined up. It was a great pity to see a brand new airport with six steps to the entrance. This was a recurring theme.

Picture of people carrying luggage up 56 step to the train platform. There is a wheelchair platform lift folded up at the bottom.Over the border in Western China the station for the very fast train has 56 steps up to the platform and many more before that. The  escalator needed a key to start it, but no person with a key could be found. Regardless, managing bags on an escalator is not optimum. The presence of a wheelchair platform lift gave the idea that compliance to some sort of standard was considered, but not the regular travelling public with their bags. So no passenger lift. Much of the rail infrastructure is elevated hence the steps both up to the station entrance and then more up to the platform.

A short steep ramp next to steps to an exhibition area. It has a portable sign displaying the access symbol.On arrival at the heritage site for the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, men with wheelchairs approached us and vied for customers. For a small fee you could be pushed around the very large area of three warrior pits and a museum. However, only trolley ramps were available and most people had to get out and walk up the steps. I did find one access sign though. One person in our group took advantage of this service. It was interesting to see how popular the Silk Road journey is for residents of both Uzbekistan and China – both are keen to re-discover their heritage.

Brightly coloured three tier Chinese PagodaTravelling the Silk Road is not for the faint-hearted. Steps abound due to the nature of the heritage buildings that include many steps as a matter of course. Major hotels are not much better, but it is expected that staff will help.  And the many security checks mean lots of lifting and shifting of luggage too.

Many thanks to fellow director, Queenie Tran for looking after the newsletter and website in my absence. 

Remember you can support the hosting of the website and newsletter by becoming a member for just $25 a year.  Jane Bringolf, Editor


From the Editor

Head and shoulders pic of Jane. She has blonde hair and is wearing glasses, and a bright blue jacket. She is smilingWhile I am away taking a break, fellow director of Centre for Universal Design Australia, Queenie Tran, will be taking over the newsletter. With a background in architecture and access consulting, she has extensive experience in the built environment from residential to commercial, including home modifications and renovations. Queenie’s interest in universal design and inclusion extends beyond the built environment as you will see in the next three or four weeks. 

Queenie Tran head and shoulders photo. She is wearing dark clothing and glasses. She has short dark hairAs always, if you have any news or publication related to universal design, diversity and/or inclusion that you would like to share, let us know by email udaustralia@gmail.com

Jane Bringolf, Editor (pictured above)



Queenie Tran pictured above.



From the Editor: Guides and Guidelines

Head and shoulders pic of Jane. She has blonde hair and is wearing glasses, and a bright blue jacket. She is smiling Easter holidays gives time to reflect. So, this newsletter brings you some previous posts. I’ve chosen some of the most popular guides posted during the last year or so. They will serve as a reminder to long-standing subscribers, and will introduce them to new subscribers. There are almost 600 items to search on this website – it has become a major repository of information on universal design, inclusion and accessibility. Remember you can help support this work by becoming a member for just $25.00. Centre for Universal Design Australia is a not for profit organisation supported by volunteers, membership fees and donations. Thank you to newsletter subscribers who have become members in this last month.

Also, if you have a news item or find a good resource, send to me on emailHope you enjoy these posts. New posts next week.

Jane Bringolf, Editor


Livable Housing Design Guidelines

Front cover of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines showing a modern house facadeThe Livable Housing Design Guidelines are a great resource for individuals purchasing or renovating a home, builders – small and large, and building design professionals. It can serve as a rough checklist, but much of the information is a common sense guide. It advises what to consider in home design to make it more comfortable, easy to use no matter what your age or level of ability. Not all homes will be able to apply all the good ideas, but just doing what you can is a good start for both occupants and visitors alike.

The original idea behind these guidelines was to have them applied to all new housing by 2020. However, it is difficult to apply voluntary guidelines in an industry governed by mandatory building codes and standards. These Guidelines were endorsed by COAG and are cited in government policy documents. Note the spelling of Livable is particular to these guidelines and is considered a brand name by Livable Housing Australia.


Inclusive Hotels and Tourism

Hotel bedroom with polished floors, orange and red pillows on a couch and textured wallpaperBelow are links to four previous posts on hotels and tourism. More can be found on the Travel and Tourism menu tab on the left hand side of the website. Tourism is leading the way with the economic arguments for universal design and inclusion. Other industries could follow their lead for increased profits and enhanced branding.

Listen up hotel managers! You’re missing out

Inclusive Hotels: A guide

Queensland Inclusive Tourism Guide

UK Tourism guide for business


Media and Communications

Front cover of the guideMedia Access Australia has produced a comprehensive quick reference guide for accessible communications.  Although the target audience is service providers that deliver support to NDIS participants, it is useful for all organisations that want to make their information accessible. The contents include information on how people with disability access online information, producing and distributing messages, publishing content online, accessible emails, and engaging with social media. The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013. The website has more useful guides, see link below as well.

Cognitive disability digital accessibility guide


Guides for Play Spaces

The purpose of this guide is to examine the reasons why play spaces can limit access to some children and identify how improvements can be made to increase participation by all children in play. The aim is to help providers meet the needs of parents and children through the planning, design and management of inclusive play spaces.  Download the pdf guide here.

The Touched by Olivia Foundation also has some excellent resources on inclusive playground design.

See also the Launceston PlaySpace Design Guidelines – It  recognises the intergenerational aspects of playgrounds as more grandparents are caring for young children.