Hearing Loops – fixed or portable?

A woman with dark hair wearing a light blue shirt holds her right hand up to cup her ear to indicate she is trying to hear somethingMany people have heard of hearing loops, but few understand the options and how they work. Ideas for Ears in the UK tweeted a blog article with some explanations of the differences. Some systems are suited for face to face customer service, others are suited for large auditoriums. Then there are others that are portable. Knowing which one to use and when is critical for people who need them. Yes, a reminder that one in six people have hearing loss. For an Australian look at these systems, ClearaSound has some good fact sheets that explain the systems really well. However, even when the equipment is installed, the sound professionals or other responsible staff do not check to see if it is working at all times. Also, most systems only work in conjunction with the speaker using a microphone. “Can everyone hear me – I don’t need a microphone?” is not what people want to hear.  You might also like to look at the Better Hearing Australia website. 

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Urban design for the not-so-average

Wide footpath in a shopping strip which has a veranda overhead. There are planter boxes and a seat.How fast can you get across a pedestrian crossing? The Department of Health says the average walking speed required is 1.2 metres per second, but the average speed of the older pedestrian is just 0.7 to 0.9 metres per second, according to an article in The Guardian. Cities are still being designed with a mythical average person in mind, but this so-called average is getting older. Have designers updated their data on this? The article goes on to discuss many issues that have been mentioned elsewhere: older people having problems getting outdoors; time to sit down; a bus driver who lets you sit before moving off; and of course, uneven pavements – or no pavements at all. Across the world 258 cities have signed up to the World Health Organisation’s Global Network of Age Friendly Cities. One has to ask “only 258?” A good article questioning the approaches of urban designers. It has links to other useful references. 

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Captioning – how is it done?

Front page of the video - deep yellow background with white text and an Auslan interpreter is standing readyThe Australian Government has produced an interesting video showing how captioning is done. It is a behind the scenes look and captioners tell how they do it. You can see them at their desks in action. One point of interest is that programs made overseas often have captions, but they don’t always come with the program when a network buys it. Intellectual property rights become problematic and in the end it is often quicker and cheaper to re-do the captions here in Australia. So that might account for why SBS is more likely to have uncaptioned programs than some other networks – unless they are subtitled of course. It is worth noting in live captioning situations that the captioner has to be able to hear the speaker and manage the speed of their speech. Good reason to speak up, speak clearly and not talk too fast. Good for other listeners and lip readers too! There is a second video showing how to turn captions on.  Note: automatic captions by Google can’t interpret speech properly and there is no punctuation. Some people call this “craptioning”. 

 

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Abstracts close 30 April for TRANSED 2018

A train is stationary at the station platform. The train is painted in many different designsThe next TRANSED 2018 conference on Mobility and Transport for Elderly and Disabled Persons is scheduled to be held in Taipei, Taiwan from 12-15 November, 2018. The theme is: “Mobility for All: Connecting the World with Accessible Transportation”. Abstract submissions close 30 April. Scholarships are being offered. More information is available on the conference website. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link TRANSED 2018 TAIPEI. Note the website and links are not easy to navigate. The conference languages will be Chinese and English.

Banner for the conference

 

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Festivals and markets for everyone

Delegates sitting at tables waiting for the 2014 UD conference to start. Sydney Town Hall (Lower)Lee Wilson makes a plea to organisers of festivals and markets for more inclusive thinking in his recent post on Linked In. He gives an overview of things to think about and that includes emergency procedures. Sometimes an accessible portaloo is installed, but no-one has thought about the grass or gravel leading up to it. Information should also be accessible, particularly to people who do not read English well, or have low vision. Auslan interpreters and audio describers make festivals and events enjoyable for people who are deaf or blind. There are several good resources on making events inclusive:

Accessible Events Checklist from the WA Government

Accessible Events Guide from Meetings and Events Australia

Event Accessibility Checklist from Australian Network on Disability (AND)

Vivid Sydney – example of a website with a section on the access and inclusion features of the event.  

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3rd Australian Universal Design Conference

Street view of the conference venueThe 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference will be held 4-5 September 2018 in Brisbane. The venue is the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (Grey Street side). The organising committee is in the process of finalising the program from the high quality abstracts received and inviting exciting keynotes speakers. It is promising to be an interesting, informative and entertaining event! Keep an eye on the conference website for updates

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Finalists announced for Design Council program

logo of Design Council. white lettering on red backgroundFor four years the Design Council Spark program in the UK has been mentoring and funding new designers to help get great products to market. The Design Council website has an overview of all the finalists and their projects – which vary considerably. Among the finalists are these products: 

- Making strength training easier for people with long term conditions

- Beautiful functional lingerie that works for women with dexterity problems

- Comfort and style after mastectomy

- A saddle for all riders

- Opening doors with ease

Beer, electric bikes, lemons, virtual reality, saving fingers, and exercise also feature. See the web page for more details.  

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What good is design if it’s not for everyone?

Johan Carey in jeans and black polo shirt is on the stage at a Ted TalkTed Talker John Carey makes some great statements. “Dignity is to design is what justice is to law and health is to medicine”. “The design reflects back to you your value”. “If good design is only for a privileged few, what good is it?” “Good design shapes our idea of who we are in the world and what we deserve.” John calls fellow architects to account – to design for people other than themselves – who, for the most part, are white males. Unlike law and medicine, architecture has failed to attract and sustain women and people of colour (in the US). A passionate talk that does not mention accessibility in particular, but is a call for good design for everyone – to consider everyone. Worth a listen/view.

 

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What is the meaning of inclusion in inclusive technology?

Line drawing of jon and kat. They re both wearing jackets and scarves around their necks. A very interesting conversation between a WordPress designer and an advisor to Automattic where they discuss inclusion and how people understand the concepts of inclusive design in different ways. They claim that a diverse team does not necessarily mean that diversity will be reflected in designs – it is a company-wide culture change that is needed. “Success is when inclusive design is the default way to design any aspect of society.” The conversation is between John Maeda of WordPress, and Kat Holmes the advisor to Automattic. Nicely written, large text, lots of good points and tips, and easy to read with extra links at the end of the article.  

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Google Maps en route for access

Picture showing the level access from the platform into the trainGoogle has officially introduced wheelchair-accessible transit routes in Google Maps. It will help people moving with wheels to get around more easily – assuming there is an easy option.  Similar ideas and apps have been developed elsewhere. However Google Maps already has such widespread use, any other apps will need to focus on niche conditions and areas. We might have to wait a little longer for the Google Maps app to include Australia, but they claim to be adding this feature world wide. Here is an excerpt from their blog on the official launch:

Google maps icon“Google Maps was built to help people navigate and explore the world, providing  directions, worldwide, to people traveling by car, bicycle or on foot. But in city centers, buses and trains are often the best way to get around, which presents a challenge for people who use wheelchairs or with other mobility needs. Information about which stations and routes are wheelchair friendly isn’t always readily available or easy to find. To make public transit work for everyone, today we’re introducing “wheelchair accessible” routes in transit navigation to make getting around easier for those with mobility needs.”  

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