Inclusive Housing – a pattern book

Steinfeld Inclusive Design and UrbanismProf Ed Steinfeld’s keynote address at the ACAA/UD Conference in Melbourne included an outline of the rationale for his inclusive housing pattern book. The book covers both home and urban design elements as well as architectural elements. He argued that in the same way that we transitioned from barrier-free to accessibility, we now need to move to more inclusive and universally designed built forms.  Download the PDF of his presentation here. (2.5 MB)


Notes from the ACAA/UD Conference: Ed Steinfeld’s Keynote

Ed SteinfeldProfessor Ed Steinfeld’s topic was shifting the paradigm from accessibility to universal design. “Universal Design” was coined in the 1980s and has moved on from functionality in the built environment (barrier-free) to embracing the concept of inclusion and addressing diversity in all its forms. But people want to know “what’s in it for me?” and how it relates to outcomes. Most people who know about universal design are aware of the seven classic principles attributed to Ron Mace. However, these principles are not tied to a database of literature. Also,they are generally not very instructional.  

Prof Steinfeld has translated the seven classic principles into eight goals – the eighth adds cultural diversity which is not covered by the seven principles. Briefly, the eight goals* are:

  1. Body Fit: accommodating a wide range of body sizes and abilities
  2. Comfort: keeping demands within desirable limits of body function and perception
  3. Awareness: ensuring that critical information for use is easily perceived
  4. Understanding: making methods of operation and use intuitive, clear and unambiguous
  5. Wellness: contributing to health promotion, avoidance of disease and protection from hazards
  6. Social Integration: treating all groups with dignity and respect
  7. Personalization: incorporating opportunities for choice and the expression of individual preferences
  8. Cultural appropriateness: respecting and reinforcing cultural values and the social and environmental context of any design project.

*Copyright Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012, Center for Inclusive Design & Environmental Access (

Prof Steinfeld provided examples of universal design when going through the 8 goals. He also cautioned against unintended consequences of being too smart with technology so that while it benefited some people, including people with disability, it may exclude others. 

The Association of Consultants in Access Australia held the conference in Melbourne 7-9 October 2016. The next Australian Universal Design Conference will be 6-7 September 2016 at the Sydney Town Hall.


Inclusion and efficiency in home renovations

logo-uhasselt_0_0This well designed Poster presentation is from Hasselt University in Belgium. Merging Inclusive Design and Energy Efficiency as a disruptive approach to housing renovation takes the position that comfort can be a unifying way of looking at both energy efficiency and inclusive design. The authors conclude: “When the concept of comfort is expanded to include the a full range of spatial, usability, and cognitive aspects, the merging of ID and EE can offer inhabitants a more complete sense of comfort, and by doing so increasing adoption of both types of measures, in line with wider governmental and societal goals.”

Abstract. There is a pressing need for housing renovations that both accommodate lifelong living and significantly increase energy efficiency. Much research has been done on both Inclusive design (ID), particularly in the context of accessibility, and energy efficiency (EE). However, they are treated independently and faced with limited adoption. A simultaneous renovation for ID and EE might lead to renovation concepts that better fulfil the residents’ desire for comfort in addition to savings in money and time. Comfort is an important driver for both types of renovations. As a result when the concept of comfort is expanded to include also spatial/usability, social, cognitive and cultural aspects, the merging of ID and EE can offer residents a more complete sense of comfort, thereby increasing the adoption of both ID and EE.



Redefining the Principles of Universal Design

Steinfeld Danford 2006 ICF presentation

In 2006 Ed Steinfeld and Scott Danford re-worked the classic seven principles of universal design to make them more understandable. They also ‘crosswalked’ the principles with the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) which is an international system that can be used as a basis for research world-wide. Download the presentation to the 2006 ICF Conference held in Vancouver.

Briefly the redefined principles are:

Body fit; Comfort; Awareness; Understanding; Identity; Social integration; and Cultural appropriateness. These formed the 8 Goals of Universal Design – a more practical approach than some of the classic 7 Principles.



Universal Access is not Universal Design

The next universal design conference (hosted by Association of Consultants in Access Australia – ACAA) is coming up on 7-9 October in Melbourne.  Here is a reminder of one of the panel presentations from the 2014 conference in Sydney.

UD Conference headerMark Relf traced the history of disability access and universal design in Australia. His presentation, Universal Access is not Universal Design, provided an excellent context to the position of universal design today. The transcript of his presentation is included in the Panel session on Day 2 of the conference:  Panel Session Day 2 in Word;   Panel Session Day 2 PDF.


UD Conference 2014 – featured session

The next universal design conference (hosted by Association of Consultants in Access Australia – ACAA) is coming up on 7-9 October in Melbourne.  Here is a reminder of one of the presentations from the 2014 conference in Sydney.

Chris Nicholls houseThe House that Chris Built: Chris Nicholls discusses the design and construction of his family home from the perspective of a wheelchair user.  He outlines some of the problems with applying standards such as AS1428 in homes and explains why some design features, which are often referred to as disability features, are not necessarily needed by every wheelchair user or person with a disability. He also explains which features were important and why. The slideshow presentation has many instructive photographs.  You can also download the transcript of his presentation: 

Chris Nicholls Transcript Word    Chris Nicholls Transcript PDF



Universal Design in Sport and Recreation

UD-logo-200x200Sofi De Lesantis is Manager of Metropolitan Community Facilities at Sport and Recreation Victoria.  Her team works in partnership with local government to plan and invest in new and improved sport and recreation facilities that aim to meet the needs of all users across metropolitan Melbourne.  

Sofi discusses how universal design thinking and principles can be applied in the sport and recreation sector, such as procurement and planning processes to influence design outcomes and how its use can lead to more active and engaged communities.

Sofi De Lesantis presentation slideshow PDF  2MB

Abstract: As Australians, sport and recreation forms an invaluable part of our cultural fabric. At the elite level it is a source of pride and unity, and at the grassroots level it is in many cases the heart of entire communities.  Continue reading Universal Design in Sport and Recreation