Financial Literacy for Everyone

A calculator and a bank statement are sitting on a desk.Understanding finance-speak is difficult for quite a few of us according to the latest HILDA survey reported in The Conversation. Perhaps it is time to take a look at what they are doing in Universal Design for Learning on this topic. If curriculum designers can devise a program for young people with disabilities about to enter the workforce then perhaps it would work for the rest of us. The article in The Conversation highlights the inequitable divide by age and gender when it comes to understanding finances. This is another reason to apply universal design principles to financial literacy. While women scored lower than men, generally men still have low levels of financial literacy. Given that most adults can function well in other areas of literacy, the finance sector has much to do to bring us up to speed. Low levels of financial literacy are over-represented in poverty statistics so this has to be addressed from the perspective of equity and inclusion. The article in The Conversation has a five question test you can take and a video of 10 emerging trends in Australia as well as more information from the HILDA data. 



Constructing our World Conference 2019

Constructing our world conference bannerSave the Date for this Conference. How should we educate and train our builders for the future? Are our current systems keeping up with the demands of new technology? What might the buildings of the future demand of builders’ knowledge and processes? What are the politicians planning for our sector and how do the financiers see the future for building in our region?  The 2019 Constructing Our World Conference in Sydney will address these questions and more.  The organisers are planning two days of speakers and interactive sessions as well as time to enjoy the sights and attractions of beautiful Sydney. Builders, project managers, educators, students, government policy makers, suppliers and construction allied personnel are sure to enjoy and benefit from attendance at the conference.

There will be an extended program for international delegates which will include fringe events  as well as a welcome reception on the eve of the conference. Constructing Our World is an initiative in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Building, the New Zealand Institute of Building and the Singapore Institute of Building Limited.  

Save the date 18 – 20 September 2019. Expressions of Interest are being accepted now. 


It’s about the built environment

Square banner with conference date and theme, Home and Away, creating inclusion everywhere.And it about you! The 3rd Australian Universal Design Conference is focused on the built environment. That means anyone involved in planning, designing and building should come along. This conference is about all the people involved in creating built environments that everyone can use. The theme “Home and Away” says it all. Whether you are involved in housing, urban infrastructure, tourist destinations, heritage buildings, or transport facilities, this conference will have something of interest to you. Earlybird is closing 7 August.

With 30 speakers, including from UK, Canada and New Zealand, and from across housing, building, standards, tourism, transportation, local government, access consulting, architecture, planning, occupational therapy and research, there is something for everyone. An interactive eat and meet lunch activity, Table Topics, ensures you get the meet like-minded people and make the most of the event. 

Go to the conference website to register. One and two day registrations available.  See you in Brisbane 4 – 5 September!  

Keynote speaker presentation summaries and biographies

Concurrent speaker full abstracts and biographies

Latest program in Word including short abstracts, posters and Table Topics


10-step guide to queer UX

smoke swirls of rainbow coloursThe concepts of universal design are expanding to encompass marginalised and disenfranchised groups in our community. In the article A 10-step guide to queer UX, there is a nice quote “There’s nothing revolutionary about technology if it is only for a limited number of people.” Making products and places more accessible for gender non-conforming and trans folk is also making them more welcoming for everyone. Roniece Ricardo writes about her observations and interaction with software as a queer gender non-conforming woman. She makes ten points:

  1. Allow users to change or write in their own gender
  2. Consider not having users specify gender
  3. Allow users the choice to hide or display identifying information from profiles
  4. Don’t assume anything about gender presentation
  5. Don’t assume your user’s pronouns
  6. Be careful with your marketing materials
  7. Don’t make assumptions about who your users date (or don’t)
  8. If you are making a niche product, receive actual feedback from the people in the niche
  9. Be mindful of regionalisation
  10. Diversify your staff.

For more detail on these ten points go to the article on the FastCompany website.    


Retiring Retirement

Red Green and Yellow balloons with 100 printed on them in white.Is it time to retire the word “retirement”? Does it have the same meaning now as it did 30-40 years ago? Ending paid work, especially if it wasn’t enjoyable, makes the idea of a permanent holiday a dream come true. But is it? For those who are not the retiring type, the notion of being on holiday for up to 40 years is not something they relish. They want to keep going past the nominated pensionable age. So this area has no one-size-fits-all solutions. But one thing common to all, is having the ability to get out and about and access everyday activities and be welcome everywhere, and to have a home that accommodates issues of ageing. That is, let’s have more universal design rolled out so we can have the choice to do what we want as we age. The BBC webpage has an interesting story about a 106 year old man who continues his medical work on a voluntary basis. Examples of centenarians still working include a barber, who has been cutting people’s hair for 95 years, and aYouTube star aged 107, who teaches her million followers how to cook dishes such as fried emu egg.  


Dogs have more clothing choice

A small white poodle dog stands wearing pink ribbons and a pink and black coat that is similar to a human design.Wheelchair user Frances Ryan loves fashion, but “adaptive” clothing is dowdy she says. It’s one thing to have an accessible fashion store, but what if the clothing isn’t suitable for wheelchair users? Ian Streets writes in Linked In that shopping for clothes requires the key elements of access: fitting rooms, aisles, checkouts and toilets. Even online shopping has to be on accessible websites. Good fashion design means looking at the whole shopping experience. Izzy Camilleri is designing more clothes with wheelchair users in mind and some of the designs are going mainstream. When you are seated all the time, waistbands ride up or down, and slide down at the back. Coats need to be cut so they can be put on while seated and styled so they don’t bunch at the back. Camilleri’s new range goes beyond wheelchair users. Horizontal pull tabs, elatic waists and magnetic fastenings all help overcome dexterity issues. You can read more in The Guardian’s article, “Why are there more clothing lines for dogs than disabled people? “


2018 Assistive Techology Conference

ARATA logoThe Australian Assistive Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Association conference will be in Melbourne 14-16 November 2018. Three full days of evidence and practice-based sessions, discussions, posters and demonstrations, and much more. National and international keynote speakers, a breakfast session and trade display all make for a jam-packed event.

Universal Design and Assistive Technolgy (AT) are partners in the same quest – inclusion and participation for everyone. AAATE believes that UD (Design for All) and AT should be looked at as part of the same domain of knowledge, rather that deal with these as two distinct domains. Practitioners in the UD world focus on designs that are inclusive and enabling rather than excluding. However, UD is not the answer to everything and some people need individual solutions and specialised designs. The simplest example is a paraplegic needs both a wheelchair and a step-free entry. One is no good without the other. AT is now a major part of the NDIS and there is growing interest in this field

banner for ARATA conference


A Tribute to Universal Design Pioneer Ron Mace

black and white photo of Ron Mace. He is wearing glasses and has a beard. He is wearing a light coloured shirt and a dark neck tieRon Mace is often reported as being the “father of universal design”. While this is not strictly true, he was a passionate leader in universal design thinking. The 20th anniversary of his death gives us pause for thought about his vision that started well before the 1970s. Richard Duncan has posted a short biography of Ron Mace to pay tribute to his vision and work that lives on across the globe. Mace contracted polio as a child and used this experience in his architecture practice where he understood how much the fine detail mattered. He was instrumental in setting up the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. This anniversary also gives pause for another thought: Why hasn’t universal design been universally accepted after more than 50 years of talking about it?

Editor’s note: I was very fortunate to visit Ron Mace’s widow, Joy Weeber, during my Churchill Fellowship study trip in 2004. Joy invited me to her home and was very generous with her time. She showed me a video of his last interview two days before he unexpectedly died in June 1998.  Jane Bringolf  


Footpath no place to park

A white SUV is parked across the footpath nosing into a drivewayParking on and across footpaths in Australia is illegal. But how many times do you see this? Especially where the family has too many cars to fit on their driveway (they use the garage for storage). So what? For people who are pushing strollers or wheeling anything it means going out on the roadway. And not good for people who are blind or have low vision for the same reason. An article on the BBC News website explains some of the difficulties about this issue, especially now that the UK are providing designated places where it is OK now to Two cars parked with one wheel mounting the kerb of the footpathpark on the footpath. A backward step (excuse the pun). The article includes videos showing the problems. Hope it doesn’t happen here – legally, that is. 


Latest ACAA Newsletter

Front cover of the newsletterAccess Insight is the newsletter of the Association of Access Consultants Australia (ACAA). In the latest issue they have articles on designing for ageing communities by Lara Calder; designing for dementia by Paul Huxtable; and designing buildings for individuals with Autism by Shelly Dival. There is also some research on the shape and use of handrails (not grab bars) in aged care facilities by Nicole Maree Swan. You can read it online or download the PDF.