Ger Craddock’s presentation of the UD Centre in Ireland

A picture of Ger Craddock speaking at the Australian Universal Design Conference 2014
Dr Ger Craddock, Chief Officer, Centre for Excellence in Universal Design (Ireland)

Embracing the whole mosaic that forms society, Ireland’s story 

This is an edited transcript from the live captioning of Dr Ger Craddock‘s keynote presentation made on the second day of the Australian Universal Design Conference held at the Sydney Town Hall in August 2104. He explains how the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design was set up in 2007 and the progress made to date.  He showcases how a dedicated centre can promote the principles, provide information and educational guidance, develop appropriate standards and be a driving force for inclusion.  

Ger Craddock’s transcript  PDF        Ger Craddock’s transcript  Word 

Ger Craddock’s slideshow PDF 4MB

Dr Ger Craddock speaking at the Australian UD Conference in 2014 showing the live captioning screen
Dr Ger Craddock showing the live captioning screen

Synopsis:  Dr Craddock outlines some of the challenges and successes of the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland. He explains the establishment of the Centre and its position within the government framework. He highlights the work they have carried out since its inception seven years ago and some of the key documents that have helped inform their work. Much of the Centre’s work has been engaging with stakeholders to develop many standards and guidelines, promotional material, educational packages, and award programs. Continue reading Ger Craddock’s presentation of the UD Centre in Ireland


Universal Design, Affordability and Cost in housing

Head and shoulders pic of Kay Saville-Smith

At a roundtable meeting following the 2014 Universal Design Conference in Sydney, Kay Saville-Smith  shared her experience on universal design and affordability.  She was happy to share her five key points about universal design in housing: 

“The usual argument is that universal design is consistently unaffordable (by which they mean more costly) than poor design because of the difficulties of retrofitting the existing environment and lack of economies of scale. Actually, the reasons why universal design is seen as costly can add cost. Five points are interesting: 

  1. Most products are not designed but driven off existing tools, processes and organisational  structures. To change these does require some investment (hump costs) but these are one off and should not be seen as an ongoing cost. Indeed, those changes can bring reduced costs in the long term through increased productivity etc.
  2. The costs of poor design are externalised onto households, other sectors or hidden unmet need.
  3. Comes out of an advocacy approach that pitches the needs of one group against another and treats universal design as special design etc.
  4. Win-win solutions need to be built with the industry participants that are hungry for share not dominant players who have incentives to retain the status quo.
  5. UD is different from design which is fashion based. The trick is to make UD fashionable so no one would be seen dead without it.”

Her keynote presentation provides more information about why it is so hard to get traction with universal design in housing. The picture is of Kay Saville-Smith.


Robert Jones Oration 2017: Economics of Tourism

Professor Simon Darcy presented the third Robert Jones Oration in Brisbane in February. The transcript and presentation slides are now available for download. Professor Darcy’s presentation covered the UN World Tourism Organisation and the economic benefits of accessible tourism, Universal Design as it is identified by the UN, and the Travel Chain. You can download a transcript, the slides and the videos from the presentation from the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland website.

Robert Jones (1958-2013) was a well-known disability advocate in Queensland. His evidence in the 1994 Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre case against the State Government was a turning point for all Australians in gaining equitable access to buildings. The annual Oration is supported by the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission.

The Inaugural Oration was presented by Dr Margaret Ward PSM, a personal friend of Robert Jones and gives an insight into his work before proposing some thoughts about the public interest in the design of private housing.

The 2015 Oration was given by Mr Maha Sinnathamby on visitability and equitable access in our homes and provides on economic overview of the costs of not providing accessible housing for all.

The picture above shows Kevin Cocks AM, Queensland Disability Commissioner; Daniel Gschwind, Chief Executive Qld Tourism; Hon. Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Disability Services; and Professor Simon Darcy



Auckland Conversations: a quick wrap-up

picture taken at the top of a flight of steps showing an open area in an urban environment in the distanceAs I reported last newsletter, I was invited to be a member of the panel session that followed Valerie Fletcher’s presentation at Auckland Conversations: Designing for People in Mind which attracted 500 people. Auckland Conversations is a regular and free event hosted by Auckland Council.

While much of what Valerie had to say is not new to followers of universal design, I was intrigued to hear about a neurological study using eye-tracking techniques that found architects view buildings differently from everyone else. I was able to mention Livvi’s Place (playgrounds), housing, and a few learnings from my Churchill Fellowship study trip.

I’ve made a few notes of some key points which include some of the key slides from Valerie’s presentation to emphasise the point. You can download in Word or download in PDF format. The other panel member apart from Valerie was Martine Abel who is the specialist advisor to Auckland Council.

The whole 2 hour event was filmed and is available for download from the Auckland Council website. The panel session starts one hour into the YouTube video.

Valerie Fletcher is CEO of the Institute for Human Centered Design based in Boston Massachusetts. 

Jane Bringolf, Editor


Braille Burgers

Woolies supermarket trolley showing two types of handle gripsSally Coddington provided us with three examples of businesses doing it better in her presentation at the Universal Design Conference. Sally was one of the panel speakers on the economics of inclusion. A South African Burger chain has a promotional video where sesame seeds are used similarly to Braille dots. Another example is the re-design of supermarket trolleys. There is a second video in the presentation, this time showing two deaf women communicating. 

Transcript of Sally’s presentation

Overview of the Panel Session

More presentations from the Universal Design Conference 2016


Seniors housing or housing for everyone?

Row of two storey houses, box shape, painted deep blue with white square windows and white bargeboardsI was delighted to be asked to make a presentation at Waverley Council’s seminar and workshop last week, Living Local, Staying Connected. My task was to cover the development, content and status of the Livable Housing Design Guidelines.

Other speakers were Professor Bruce Judd who gave a comprehensive overview of his research with older people and their housing preferences. In the process he debunked the myth of downsizing being “the thing older people should do”. Architect Guy Luscome presented the findings from his travelling scholarship in Europe and gave everyone some new ideas about design preferences – windows and natural light coming to the top of the list.

Joel Elboune and Shawn Neilson from Banyule City Council (Melbourne) gave an update on the progress of their Liveable Design Guidelines and the work they have been doing with developers. Also from Melbourne, Jeremy McLeod told us the very interesting story of the Nightingale Project – showing what can be achieved through new ways of thinking in terms of property development and building design to achieve sustainable and affordable housing.

The presentations will be available from Waverley Council soon, but in the meantime you can download

my presentation Livable Housing Design Guidelines: A new way of thinking or more of the same?

Guy Luscombe’s report on the NANA Project

Joel and Shawn’s Australian Universal Design Conference presentation,

A similar presentation by Bruce Judd An Ageing City – Are we prepared? (UNSW Utzon Lecture)

The Nightingale Project

Jane Bringolf, Editor.



Is UD measurable in the planning context?

wayfindingLindsay Perry posed this question at the ACAA/UD conference held in Melbourne October 2015.  In this presentation she provides examples that relate to the classic seven principles of universal design. The second part of her presentation contains a quick survey of friends, family and work colleagues. She asked them, “When you go out for the day, what is the main thing you rely on to be able to travel through and navigate the built environment? What irritates you?” The responses all relate to wayfinding – knowing where you are and having signs that make sense. Download the PDF of the presentation here. Lindsay Perry is Team Leader at Philip Chun Group.


UD and Sport and Recreation Facilities

Evan WilkinsonEvan Wilkinson outlines the process that Sport and Recreation Victoria went through to bring about a better understanding of the principles of universal design and how they can be applied to sporting infrastructure and recreational programs. One of his key arguments is that if universal design principles are considered at the outset, the cost implications are low. However, if left until later in the design and construction process, the cost of ‘adding on’ access features is far more costly. Download the PDF of the PowerPoint Slideshow. (5.5 MB)

Sport and Recreation Victoria have also launched their Design for Everyone Guide. The link takes you to the website that also has a very useful video on universal design shown below.