This article comes from the Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research.
Abstract: Dwarfism is commonly defined as anyone 4ft 10″ (147.32 cm) or below and whose short stature involves a medical condition [Adelson, M. B. 2005. The Lives of Dwarfs, xv. NJ: Rutgers University Press]. Whilst it recognized that the built environment is unsuitable for dwarfs [see Kruse, R. 2002. “Social Spaces of Little People: The Experiences of the Jamisons.” Social and Cultural Geography 3 (2): 175–191, Kruse, R. 2010. “Placing Little People: Dwarfism and Geographies of Everyday Life.” In Towards Enabling Geographies, edited by V. Chouinard, E. Hall, and R. Wilton, 183–198. Surrey: Ashgate; Shakespeare, T., M. Wright, and S. Thompson. 2007. A Small Matter of Equality: Living with Restricted Growth. Newcastle: Newcastle University], this paper critically examines how spaces and facilities designed with other users in mind, including disabled people and children, can have unintended consequences for dwarfs. The data used in this paper are taken from semi-structured interviews and photo elicitation exercises conducted with 22 dwarfs living in the UK. Overall this paper shows the spatial experiences of dwarfs, which are a result of the unintended consequences of disabled child spaces and facilities, and suggests how Universal Design may be a more appropriate design concept. You will need academic library access for the full paper or it can be purchased. Here is the link.
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.
This article focuses on the importance of social connectedness for older people and how this is essential for ongoing health and wellbeing. However, environments continue to be designed and built in ways that are often detrimental to older people being able to get out and about and socialise.
The research showed that the qualities of “safety”, “attractiveness” and “inclusiveness” respectively are the most influential factors on the sociability of older people. The results also determined that fear of injury is the most limiting factor in using urban spaces.
Download the article by H. Khosravi , F. Gharai, and Sh. Taghavi, in the International Journal of Architectural Engineering and Urban Planning.
Abstract: Due to the change of lifestyle and improvement of public health the number of aged people has considerably increased. Considering the relationship of the environment and people, the built environment features could exacerbate or facilitate the elderly people’s vulnerability and social needs. Recently, a large number of studies have put emphasis on the relationship between the neighborhoods’ open spaces attributes and seniors’ social needs. This study seeks to investigate the impact of the built environment indicators on the time the elderly spent in urban spaces of Banafsheh neighborhood in Mashhad. In order to do this, through a cross-sectional survey research, 33 indicators were collected from recent studies and categorized in seven main urban design qualities based on perceived and self-report data collected by questionnaire. A regression analysis revealed the impact of each quality on the sociability of the elderly. Results demonstrate that in this context, “safety” is the most effective factor on the elderly presence in open spaces. “Attractiveness” and “all age presence” are at the next points.
This book chapter by Julie Melville and Alan Hatton-Yeo discusses how the generations are separated by life activities and dwelling places. However, interaction between generations, particularly younger and older people, is considered beneficial for individuals and society as a whole. The chapter discusses the benefits and includes the concern that the design of the built environment is not conducive to sharing spaces across the generations. The WHO Age Friendly Cities and Communities program, which is underpinned by universal design, is starting to take off in Europe and this is discussed further as a means of bringing the generations together.While this book is not specifically about universal design, it is about inclusive practice and social inclusion.
What do industry stakeholders think about incorporating the eight key features in the Livable Housing Design Guidelines? An article by Margaret Ward and Jill Franz explains their findings. By inspecting eleven new dwellings in the Brisbane area the researchers found that none of the dwellings were visitable:
“In summary, when providing the eight features for visitability, the interviewees identified two themes for non-compliance (“lack of thought” and “otherness”) and three themes for compliance (“fashion”, “requirement’ and “good practice”). Although all dwellings provided some features, no dwelling provided a coherent path of travel necessary to make a dwelling visitable. Some examples of this incoherence were: a step-free driveway which led to a step at the door; a wide front door which led to a narrow corridor; and a narrow internal doorway which did not allow entry of a wheel-chair to a spacious bathroom. The provision of these access features separately and severally did not provide visitability as an outcome in any of the dwellings.
AbstractIn response to the ratification of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), Australian housing industry leaders, supported by the Australian Government, committed to transform their practices voluntarily through the adoption of a national guideline, called Livable Housing Design. They set a target in 2010 that all new housing would be visitable by 2020. Research in this area suggests that the anticipated voluntary transformation is unrealistic and that mandatory regulation will be necessary for any lasting transformation to occur. It also suggests that the assumptions underpinning the Livable Housing Design agreement are unfounded. This paper reports on a study that problematised these assumptions. The study used eleven newly-constructed dwellings in three housing contexts in Brisbane, Australia. It sought to understand the logics-of-practice in providing, and not providing, visitable housing. By examining the specific details that make a dwelling visitable, and interpreting the accounts of builders, designers and developers, the study identified three logics-of-practice which challenged the assumptions underpinning the Livable Housing Design agreement: focus on the point of sale; an aversion to change and deference to external regulators on matters of social inclusion. These were evident in all housing contexts indicating a dominant industry culture regardless of housing context or policy intention. The paper suggests that financial incentives for both the builder and the buyer, demonstration by industry leaders and, ultimately, national regulation is a possible pathway for the Livable Housing Design agreement to reach the 2020 goal. The paper concludes that the Australian Government has three options: to ignore its obligations under the CRPD; to revisit the Livable Housing Design agreement in the hope that it works; or to regulate the housing industry through the National Construction Code to ensure the 2020 target is reached.
This document was produced as a result of a group of passionate people who believed it was important to have a centre for accessible design. 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.
The Norwegian Government has taken the principles of universal design and applied them across all policies to create maximum inclusion. This makes everyone responsible for inclusion at every level – in the built environment, outdoor areas, transport, and ICT. In 2008, the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, launched its first Action Plan 2009-2013, which sets the goal of Norway being universally designed by 2025. In 2010, Norway amended its Planning and Building Act to include universal design. In 2016, The Delta Centre was given responsibility, and funding, to coordinate the actions in the 2015-2019 plan. This plan is more comprehensive and covers ICT and communications to a more detailed level. This is in recognition of how we are becoming more reliant on digital applications.
It’s in everyone’s interest to have our homes accessible for everyone no matter their age or circumstances. But the private housing market isn’t coming to the party. Margaret Ward challenges popular assumptions about how accessible housing will be achieved using the evidence from her PhD study on the private housing market. In the inaugural Robert Jones Memorial Oration in Brisbane in 2014, Margaret recounts the life of Robert Jones and his dream to make public spaces and places accessible to everyone. She also uses the experiences of her father and daughter to illustrate the importance of living at home until your last days.
“It takes many things for people to remain at home. Australians have agreed that it is in the public interest that people receive reasonable and necessary supports and affordable medical services to keep participating and contributing in community. There is no equivalent public interest in the design of their housing.”
From the Editor: I prepared a 2000 word version of my PhD thesis which is worth another look given the proposed changesto the National Construction Code for housing. Basically, my question was, why we are still building and designing homes as if none of us is ever going to grow old? The simple answer is that the industry runs on regulations to hold the house building system together, so nothing will change without regulations.Readthe paper to find out more about the complexities of the house building industry and why there is resistance to change from both builders and purchasers. You can also download the accompanying slide show from the 2011 FICCDAT conference.
(FICCDAT is, Festival of International Conferences on Caring, Disability, Aging and Technology.)