Welcome to Centre for 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.


23 ways to benefit with UD

A modern kitchen with a bowl of fruit in the foreground and a stove and microwave in the backgroundAdaptive Environments is a Canadian website with design ideas. Good design means functionality while remaining nearly invisible. This is one of the difficulties of showcasing universal design – it is not always obvious until it is pointed out. It is more obvious when something is poorly designed. It is about being thoughtful in the design process. The kitchen and bathroom get good attention with great tips in this article on the Adaptive Environments webpage – 23 Ways you can benefit from universal design. There are lots of nice pictures too. 


GAATES Access consulting certification

Picture of a check list with Exceptional, Exceeds Requirements, Meets RequirementsThe Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), an international leader in the field of accessibility, has launched their International Certification of Accessibility Consultants – Built Environment (ICAC-BE) program. The key point from the media release is that almost anyone can present themselves as an access expert. This internationally recognised certification program will help validate those who have such expertise. The following is from their media release, with links to other pages for more information. They have included the concept of universal design in their processes.

“Significant time and contributions from recognized global industry leaders has resulted in the development of the first ever international-level certification program for built environment accessibility experts. The lack of a certification program has allowed people with little or no training or expertise to present themselves as accessibility experts. This has led to uneven and sometimes inadequate costly design solutions.

The identified need for validation of those working in the field was recognized by GAATES who has filled an important gap in the industry. Following internationally established certification protocols (ISO/IEC 17024:2012: Conformity assessment — General requirements for bodies operating certification of persons), a global panel of experts assesses the qualifications and interviews applicants. Evaluators have international experience in public, private and social sectors, and represent a worldwide vision of what constitutes a Universally Designed and accessible built environment. The evaluation is based on both regional practices and international ISO standards.

The program determines whether applications qualify for one of three levels of competency and confirms those professionals who are actively developing universally designed, accessible, and inclusive built environments for everyone, including persons with disabilities and older persons.

International certification will allow those working as accessibility consultants to demonstrate their expertise and it will provide them with a significant business advantage.  Interested applicants are encouraged to contact GAATES to review further details of the program. Please visit our website at www.gaates.org/certification. GAATES’ Program Coordinator may be contacted with specific questions and to begin the application process: certification@gaates.org  


Liveable Housing – your opinion counts

facade of a double fronted two storey home with grand entrance. A McMansionAustralian Network for Universal Housing Design (ANUHD) continues to advocate for all new homes to be accessible. They have a quick survey that will help identify:

  • the difficulties (if any) in finding liveable /universally designed housing
  • the cost and benefit to Australian society in providing universally designed features in all new housing
  • the features that should be in a Livable Standard for all new housing to be accessible/universally designed

As a result of ANUHD’s advocacy, the Australian Building Codes Board will be conducting a Regulatory Impact Assessment to see if access features should be included in the National Construction Code. Part of that process is to assess the need for accessibility. The information from the survey will help inform the discussion paper due out early next year. Please distribute through your networks.


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 next year – your ideas are welcome And if you’ve got part way through the course, get yourself to the end for that certificate! Jane Bringolf.


Become a member!

Show your support for Centre for Universal Design Australia and the cause of social and economic inclusion by becoming a member.  Your membership contribution will help show the widespread support and interest in Universal Design that exists across Australia and globally. It will also support us to maintain the website and regular newsletters. Join now and you will be paid up until 30 June 2019. The membership fee is $33.00 including GST.


You can pay by credit card through the PayPal gateway using the button link below. If you don’t have a PayPal Account scroll down to the credit card payment option on the PayPal site. You can also pay by bank transfer- see below. You can find out more about the organisation, its aims, and current Board of Directors by going to the About Us page on the website.

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Centre for Universal Design Australia Ltd

Ger Craddock at the lectern with the captioning screen behind himAt the close of the inaugural universal design conference in 2014 there was a call from delegates to set up a centre for universal design in Australia. In the final panel session  “Where to from Here”, Ageing and Disability Commissioner The Hon Susan Ryan spoke passionately for it, along with other members of the panel. Kathryn Greiner AO, Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Ageing, also added her support. This website was the first step.

The second step was to set up a not-for-profit organisation. That step has now been completed with the minimum three founding directors. There are five more positions on the board to be filled and the call for expressions of interest is now open. People passionate about universal design in all its forms are invited to submit. There will be two main tasks for the board: to oversee the governance of the organisation, and to seek funds and support. All tasks will need to be carried out voluntarily by board members until such time as we can employ staff. To be clear, there is no money as yet for travel for face to face meetings. The number and timing of meetings and operational tasks will be decided by the board members once they are appointed. The call for expressions of interest will close 12 September 2016. 

An announcement about the establishment of the Centre and call for expressions of interest will be made at the 2nd Australian Universal Design Conference on the afternoon of 31 August 2016. 

For more about selection criteria and other information download the document in Word or download in PDF. Please feel free to circulate through your networks.

Picture shows Dr Ger Craddock, Chief Officer, Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland speaking as a member of the final panel session.

Jane Bringolf, Editor


Accessible Design in Australia

Accessible Design in Australia 1999 front coverThis document was produced as a result of a group of passionate people believing in the benefit of setting up an Access Institute in Australia. They consulted widely and held two symposia, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. The document sought further comment, particularly from people with disability. For various reasons, the project ended at this point and no further action was taken. However, soon afterwards a small group, led by Dr Max Murray, started the Association of Consultants in Access, Australia (ACAA). Centre for Universal Design Australia has picked up the threads to follow through on the aim of having a central point for creating an inclusive Australia. Download the 1999 discussion paper in PDF: Accessible Design in Australia: A national approach for an integrated future.